Gates are a particular part of any boundary. They are moments of time, or particular places, where things are most able to enter and leave a system. While movement across a boundary is inherently emotional, movement in and out of gates is less emotional, or at least more acceptable (though emotion is still inherently present).
In simple terms a gate could be a door, the way we enter and leave a room. A window is another type of gate in a room, though it would be more surprising (though not impossible) for someone to come in or leave a room through a window. What would be very surprising (and therefore extremely emotional) would be for someone to walk into your room through the wall. They would either be a ghost, a superhero or have destroyed your wall. Any of these would be shocking although we don’t go round day to day thinking that we are emotional about our walls. This illustrates how emotion at any boundary reflects our deeply held concepts about how things are and how things should be.
In our bodies, our mouth, eyes, ears and nose are gates. Part of how our bodies function as a system is that things are meant to come in and go out of these places. Similarly when we go to the toilet, things no longer needed by our bodies pass through other bodily gates. Notice how so things such as food, snot and shit can all be emotive, even though they are also day-to-day functions. This is because in Centre Edge terms they relate to gates on the physical boundary of our body system.
Gates as moments of time when things can change:
Gates are also moments of possibility, in other words gates of time rather than of place. These are moments when things change, or could change, ‘sliding door moments’. We talk about ‘windows of opportunity’, ‘stepping across a threshold’, ‘a door opening’. These are metaphors representing the gate principle and the possibility of moving over some kind of boundary or threshold. There is of course nothing physical going on at such times, it is rather that there is a time of possibility, a particular opportunity for something to enter or leave our personal or social sphere, or perhaps for us to step into some new world of possibility.
Paying attention to gates is very useful when thinking about change processes in organisations. It is an important part of sensitising groups and teams to seeing and taking opportunities with skill and sensitivity. In Centre Edge training and workshops we explore gates using simple movement exercises or very basic rituals. We can start to notice emotions and thoughts as we move from one system / space to another, or even from one emotional space to another across gateways.
Gates as inner experience of possibility and creativity:
It seems that part of genuine meditation practice is to be able to see vast possibilities in every moment. In this sense a very experienced meditator might perceive their world as open and creative in every moment, with no rigid, solid boundaries. Thus they experience freedom to move, change and act according to whatever is needed and responsive to the situation. Many of us perceive our lives as rather constrained by what we take to be solid boundaries. Learning to perceive the gate principle, and gradually deepening our experience to embrace the possibility of every moment as a potential gateway is one area that this principle can eventually point us toward.