Julian Hauer’s Workshop– thinking wider and deeper

In our workshop on transformative learning spaces Julian Hauer took the participants to the heart of his inquiry by sharing his personal issues and struggles. That evoked compassionate support and encouragement for Julian among the other workshop participants and catalyzed insights and learning for him.

Julian’s Context

A little over a year ago, Julian encountered Theory U, which became the catalyst for a significant shift in his life. Previously, deeply immersed in extreme sports, travel, and excessive socializing, he lived a somewhat superficial existence, albeit with an underlying connection to nature and altruism. Since then, he’s been undergoing a continuous process of self-discovery, feeling a profound calling to support personal transformation and planetary regeneration integrating awareness practices into daily life and fully committing to this path. He’s compelled to nurture change and regeneration, particularly among young and envisions creating spaces where people from diverse backgrounds (across cultures and generations) can co-shape a better future. Currently, he and his partner are developing Students of Life/” SoL”, a project centered around holistic well-being, mutual learning, and growth in community. It combines creative expression, diverse joint activities, dialogue and other practices. Their intention is to establish a network of authentic relationships that harmonize life, work, passion, and collective well-being, allowing individuals to thrive while contributing positively to society and planet. Julian found AR+ and joined as a guest in our annual Gathering in Brixen/Bressanone in 2023 helping us to get to know the beautiful Dolomites region.

Finding AR+, thinking wider and deeper

Coming from a level of awareness where he wasn’t thinking about his impact on self and others, constantly living on the edge of extremity, he started to transform, now holding this huge vision and intention to support, he looks to grow in collaboration. The process of personal development, letting go and letting come, being in between, trying to get comfortable in the unknown and unpacking negative cultural and personal patterns constantly requires all of his attention. He struggles with self-doubts in engaging in writing his thesis to complete his degree in business and economics. Julian nonetheless strives to connect his academic pursuits with his “calling” to convene and co-create community, seeing it as the first cornerstone on the way to embodying his vision. For him, these endeavors (life & work/studies) should intertwine seamlessly. Yet, he struggles to break down the big into the small pieces. He interweaves (self-) awareness and personal growth with hands-on contributions to sustainable well-being of all, focusing on the power of communal support and collective practice and learning to foster growth and transformation.

Julian prepares for the transformative learning spaces workshop with Ilaria DiStefano

“Two and a half months ago,” writes Julian, “I saw this workshop as a huge opportunity and also as a deadline for my thesis project to be well established. Still in the old mindset, conned by rapid outcome orientation and short-term time horizons, I watered the seed of pressure of finishing my career finally, after almost two years of “writing my thesis”. I would constantly force myself to get something onto the paper to advance in a way that something tangible and visible for others would be there to share. What I absolutely underestimated was the breadth and depth of the process of my personal growth in awareness that it would take for bringing my vision into life. I wasn’t aware of the “divine timing” of the journey that I embarked on and what that implies. I did not realize that it maybe was not the right time for writing up things already. On one hand I was fueled and hindered by perfectionism. Additionally, I assumed that the whole project process has to be defined already so that people would want to be part of it. – Otherwise, nobody knows what it’s about and where to, I thought. I was constantly being plagued by self-doubts which caused hesitating in prototyping or taking a next step. These insights about my journey emerged in meetings with Ilaria leading up to the workshop, in which she compassionately reflected back to me and made me realize that I had an inadequate perception and way of approaching the thesis, and even life. At this point I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to Ilaria for being there with me.

The workshop with other participants

After a short period of check-in, sharing where in our personal life we are calling in from, Ilaria introduced into the space by inviting mindfulness and sharing the protainer enablers. A short period of silence grounded participants and allowed Julian to relax a little from his inner mix of nervousness and excitement. 

The power of communal mutual support

Julian started by sharing that he had been struggling with developing his thesis project, which he had intended to present in this workshop. He expressed feelings of disappointment in himself for not being able to share anything concrete due to challenges he faced during the development process. However, with encouragement from Ilaria and Carol, Julian realized the value of the support system around him and found motivation to continue working on his project. Julian acknowledged his struggle with self-doubt and the pressure of comparing himself to others in the field.

“Two days prior to the event I wanted to write a mail to all the participants asking for their opinion on the sense of my presentation and if anyone wanted to take my slot as I had no concrete project to present. That, now I know, came from my wrong perception. When reading through the text I wrote, I realized that I would have just run away from the difficulty. So, I only sent the mail to Carol asking for her thoughts on my situation. What came back was such a beautiful and empowering answer that encouraged me to just try and go for overcoming myself. Thank you, Carol!”

The bridge from personal development to global challenges

Julian shared his ongoing struggles with self-doubt, perfectionism, and a fear of not conveying his thoughts effectively, with Ilaria offering support and encouragement. Julian discussed his concept of SoL, representing a project aimed at creating safe and conducive spaces for personal development and positive change. He expressed a desire to contribute to tackling global challenges, including ecosystem crises, by first overcoming his own internal issues. Julian also highlighted the need for practical solutions to these challenges, the importance of empowering a wider audience to think critically and develop, and the power of collective intelligence, the shared sense.

“Even though our gathering spaces invite to fully let go of any fear allowing to show ourselves as we are without being judged, my nervousness and all the above-mentioned fears manifested in this space of crystallization and consumed me. The perfect room to grow as I understood, only afterwards though. I knew that I speak better when unprepared and felt confident until shortly before the meeting, I fell into the trap of my doubts and the last-minute quick fix. Then, when I started, my nervousness and the feeling of not speaking well enough and not conveying what I wanted to, got me off track, and I lost my red line. It felt as if I was being tortured, not by anybody else but my own brain, its thoughts, and my feeling of not being good enough – I was my own co-pilot. More and more it was taking over until I fell into the void and totally blanked on what I would say next… silence – the one where you hear a pin drop. It felt terrible and like an eternity”

The power of silence

“The moment of maximum felt inconvenience was the one that shifted me and the conversation. So many times, I’ve been in and heard of this unknowingness, the void, the silence, and just being with it, but I never experienced it in that way consciously and therefore wasn’t comfortable, at all. Just before I almost wanted to switch off, feeling embarrassment for my “performance”, something told me to just say exactly what’s happening to me in that very moment, and I did. Immediately the heavy weight on my heart and shoulders lifted and a swell of confidence and clarity with broader awareness overcame me. – Now I know, there was no need to worry or feel bad in anyway. That’s where the magic lays. I can try my best to be aware and get more comfortable, put trust in “the silence”. “

           We explored authenticity and regeneration

Julian shared his vulnerabilities, which resonated with many attendees, including Andrea, Malida, Ilaria, and Hilary. The group agreed on the value of authenticity in communication and personal growth. Julian also shared his observation of sometimes getting stuck in concepts he’s learning about with Malida emphasizing the importance of breaking free from frameworks and theories. Hilary shared on the concept of regeneration, drawing parallels to personal growth and development. She expressed her awe at the possibility that we get to regenerate within our lifetimes, because we can consciously expand and raise our consciousness to include what we have previously been oblivious to.

The conversation concluded with Julian expressing gratitude for the reflections and the opportunity to explore these ideas.

Personal growth in supportive spaces 

The group named its own experience with Julian and Ilaria conversing about insights gained from facing complex situations. Julian shared his realization about vulnerability and connection, expressing his intention to support others’ development and create a mindfulness space in his local surroundings. Ilaria encouraged Julian’s path, and the dialogue ended with his commitment to his goals.

Julian also shared his ongoing journey of self-discovery and communication experiments, facing daily struggles with confidence and self-doubt. Malida and Hilary admired his proactive approach and willingness to explore different forms of communication, ending with Julian advising himself not to fear failure – to take steps forward overcoming himself by simply trying out different approaches. – “So easily said.”

Julian expressing gratitude for all the support he received and highlighted its value, pledging to reciprocate by supporting others. Planning future workshops, the group discussed logistics and implications of alternating between 8:30am and 4PM Universal Time monthly, so Americans can join in.


“In my journaling entry referring to the workshop I wrote: It felt like severe torture and then glorious success, and, both at the same time too. – I wasn’t really able to make meaning yet at that moment, “divine timing – attention!”.

Thanks to the loving support and mindfulness of our community, insights emerged, learning, and transformation happened. To create and hold such authentic and powerful spaces within and in between, is, what makes meaningful growth and development possible, to me. I believe that such spaces can be cultivated anywhere, anytime – if we commit in time and energy and take courage in showing ourselves vulnerable, for the well-being of ourselves and “others”. The amazing support that I receive, actually all my life from family and friends, and now on this journey, being in community with developmental friends, drives me to give mutually to others too.”

“The shifts that crystalized for me during that time, in the process, and its inner proliferation in the following days in my life are major. As far as I am aware, as follows: THANK YOU FRIENDS, for the opportunity and the immediate insights and reflections that emerged in sharing together! I take with me that, just as I have been doing in sports, I tend to push and force myself in doing things, not respecting myself and not being aware of the time I (we all I guess) need for energetic (and physical) recovery, regeneration. Life really seems to have its divine timing, especially when I am (we are) committed to growing in awareness and consciousness – developing vertically. There seems to be a possibility for us, as Hilary mentioned (that’s how I understand it), to regenerate – be someone new, by regenerating, in the sense of recovering, taking time, honoring the silence attentively, getting comfortable with it. And, we are all in the same boat – only united we stand.”

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