In a small, non-descript house across from Viroqua, Wisconsin’s Eckhart Park, resides a man, his wife, their two delightfully charming children and a business working with customers across the globe: a perfect combination of small town life and big city work.
Gregory Splinter is an architect and mindfulness facilitator who holds meditation and intuitive drawing workshops as a process for dynamic transformation for businesses, individuals and designers. The heart-mind workshop he offers encourages participants to tap into their inner creativity to solve problems in ways using rational thought processes alone could not. So while his kids are walking to school, Gregory may be Skyping with a client in Europe, or personally leading a workshop group somewhere in southwest Wisconsin.
Throughout his career as an architect and urban designer, Gregory has applied mindfulness in his designs. As a graduate student, his thesis explored “Design through Contemplation” and over time, the more his mindful technique worked for him, the more he recognized that it could have meaningful applications for others as well. These days, Gregory has restructured his business model, and he offers his mindfulness techniques to benefit both businesses and individuals, addressing their own specific “issues, challenges and situations.” Through his facilitation, Gregory’s clients take a journey of deep curiosity applying meditation and intuitive drawing techniques to experience the Eureka! A-ha! moment they seek.
Beginning by talking with the individual or group about what they are trying to create, resolve or make clear, Gregory then leads them into meditation for about 15 minutes. Afterward, each person expresses their mediation on paper, using abstract shapes, lines and color. “Draw not what you know. Draw what you feel.” he counsels. Next, the group works together to interpret the metaphor behind each of the drawings. It’s in this stage that the breakthrough becomes apparent, as new ideas come forward —ones that no one had been able to articulate in previous discussions.
“This is a way of breaking away from linear thinking,” says Gregory “and tapping into what our hearts are telling us.” He says intuitive thinking is the key to solving problems in today’s world, and often refers to this quote by Albert Einstein: “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”
Gregory refers that leap in consciousness as “coherence”: the brain and heart working together wherein the heart’s intuitive feelings elevate rational thought. If you haven’t yet heard about coherence, he predicts that you will soon. A number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, provide regular opportunities for their employees to use coherence to open their minds to innovative possibilities. “Soon it will be more widely known that the heart is a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. It’s not just a pump. The heart learns, remembers, and makes decisions independent of the brain” notes Gregory.
To conduct his workshops, Gregory sometimes travels to see his clients in person, but he can also frequently be found sitting in his small home office in Viroqua, using Skype to communicate with those in distant cities and towns. “I always participate in the workshop, too,” he says. “I do the meditation with them, then we both show our resulting drawings via video call.”
The option to both travel and stay home with his family makes this an ideal career for Gregory. “I love big cities, but I’ve lived in them for most of life. After living in L.A. and Chicago for many years, my wife, Diane, and I were looking for something different, so about 16 years ago, we bought some land in Soldiers Grove, WI and plunged into rural life there. Our new neighbors welcomed us with kindness. Some families were transplants like us and other families have been on the land for generations.” But as Gregory and Diane’s children got older, they found themselves driving more and more to Viroqua —nearly 20 miles away— and quickly recognized that one of the reasons they left Chicago was to enjoy a simpler life and avoid all the driving. Shortly thereafter, they made the decision to move into the town of Viroqua.
Gregory admits it would have been difficult to get an international business off the ground without the connections he made while living in Chicago, but he says he hasn’t looked back once since they made the move to a small town. “Because I am relatively new to town, it’s especially important to be “mindful” of Viroqua’s multi-generational heritage. I’m enjoying connecting with the variety of Viroqua citizens: Church-goers, new-comers, farmers, Pleasant-Ridgers, born-and-raised, city government, and the Amish. It’s the diversity which is the richness of the experience. All of us are offering the very best of ourselves. I feel a heart connection with people in Viroqua, and when they see value in the talents I have to offer, it is incredibly validating. I feel grateful, and it really keeps me going.”
To find out more about Gregory’s work, visit www.splinter-inc.com.