From Resonance to Coherence a path in pursuit of We-Space with Dr. Tom Habib

A conversation at the Wisdom Factory prior to the presentation at the Integral European Conference on May 30th 2020

Heidi writes

Everyone knows this phenomena: you enter a room and you immediately feel that there is something “strange”. The people, despite they might be friendly to you newcomer, emanate an energy  which makes you feel uncomfortable and you want to leave as soon as possible. Or, the other way round, you meet people and immediately you feel at ease, ignited, inspired and you wish this moment would never end.

What is happening there? We don’t have good words for it, we just feel it. We enjoy the positive moments but have no clue how to create them – while we have some idea how the negative energies have been created. That’s not difficult to do, we all have rich experience and certainly would be able to create these situations consciously, by flipping out with anger, aggressivity or all forms of misbehavior.

How can we learn to create these positive and fulfilling moments? Realising the “ingredients” which lead to them and finding words to describe them. From there practice the skills to help emerge these times of shared  joy and awe.

Dr. Tom Habib is doing exactly this in his research in human collective behavior. As a couples’ therapist he is well aware of the difficulties couples go through, of the blockages to intimacy and of the experience of deep connection and intimacy which everyone of us is craving, but rarely reaches. 

In preparation for Tom’s presentation at the Integral European Conference 2020 I invited him to a conversation about his findings. He emphasises the development from “resonance” to “ coherence” to “we-space”, which is best realised without words, in a deep mutual and embodied understanding, by just being in collective presence. Listening to Tom’s explanation I immediately thought about making music together. 

Sometimes a performance reaches this level of “WE” where everyone intuitively connects with their individual actions to the whole. When we “just know” , we start at the same millisecond,, develop the line like riding together on a wave and we fall into this highly energetic silence together which marks the end of the piece, without even needing to look at each other: this is “better than an orgasm”, as many musicians confirm. This is to say: these are so deeply fulfilling moments, highlights in our individual lives which come about by the collective, or “we-space”, as Tom calls it. It doesn’t happen often, but when it happens, it is a deep experience you don’t want to miss in your life!

As to Tom’s presentation at the conference. Although he showed mainly the same slides there, it had a different character. The audience engaged in small groups, the format was presentation and question and answer – not a perfect demonstration of a we-space. In our conversation we at least communicated directly with each other and my role was not just listening. We certainly were in resonance, but certainly not in that we-space Tom was talking about and which I had the privilege in my life to experience as a singer in a few concerts and also in some other group settings.

Since 2016, when Tom did his first presentation at the Integral European conference in Hungary, I followed the development of his research into the behaviour of people when being with others, mainly intimate couples. I recorded his presentations during the years. They are accessible at, search term “Tom Habib”

Videopost for July 15th, 2020

0:00  Heidi Intro and naming where to find more videos with Tom

1:05 Tom introduces himself

2:00 First slide, intro to the topic

3:30 Slide: Social interaction

4:30 Slide: The states of collective presence

5:15 Presence as an individual state

6:30 slide: tools of individual & collective presence

8:05 Resonance, external and internal source

12:45 Experience of resonance

13:30 Slide: levels of collective presence

14:45 reference to Jamie Wheel and Benita Roy

15:20 Example: doing music together. Memories of Hungary

17:00 Back to collective presence: it needs shared resonance

17:38 Vertical vs. horizontal communication.

18:45 Here the video of Mandy would be shown in the presentation, you can watch it here: 

If this link doesn’t work, try this one:

19:15 Idea of questions for the breakout groups

20:10 Explanation of the content of the video

20:50 Questions about resonance, contraction, transparency and horizontal communication

21:20 Heidi gives the example of Evelyn Glennie, the world’s only solo percussionist – who is deaf (Watch the documentary “Touch the sound”

22:00 Heidi cannot respond to Tom’s question about contraction which would need to have watched the video. Tom explains about the origin of contracting and the way to transparency.

24:00 Coherence

27:00 Poem by Rumi, Heidi’s share of how she recognises coherence, 

30:50 Tom talks about his observations. Co-creative dialogue.

32:10 Tom cites Barbara marx Hubbard and the integral map. Tom’s experience of working with couples.

33:56 Slide of collective presence. Tom remembers a situation in Hungary of group recognition. 

35: 25 Ignition and extinction of this collective space.

37:10 need of practices to contain the space. Attunement to what is unfolding.

38:00 The “Shengelaw” of the we space

39:00 Shift of locus of awareness.

40:40 Tom’s example of an experience of this kind during the conference in Hungary.

41:45 Dancers and singers have strong embodiment.

43:00 Heidi goes back to couples. Why can’t we hold this space? Shyness? Tom’s response. Compartmentalisation? Special situation in a couple who is together all the time, as opposed to a momentous appearance of presence among strangers. Other example of highly sensitive people who have strong presence ability.

47:00 FInishing up: know how to utilise the gift, don’t mythologise! (Jean Houston)

About Dr. Tom Habib

Tom Habib was founder and managing partner in a private group Clinical Psychology practice for 26 years. He is also adjunct faculty at Center for Integrative Psychology in the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. Tom is serving as the Chairperson for the IEC’s International Consortium of Integral Scholars. He is currently developing We-space experiences at San Diego Integral and utilizing these findings to help intimate couples’ stage and state development.