WHAT IS AN EXPERIENTIAL WORKSHOP?
My workshop practice is evolving. It’s something I have been passionate about for years and I wanted to share with you some of my thinking about this kind of work. One thing I am very sensitive to is being talked at.
I have had so much of it. My particular nervous system and mind needed so much more in terms of facilitating my own thinking and my own safety that I can find it almost unbearable.
After years of going berserk in long lectures a core value has emerged: from those facilitating experiential work - words should be kept to a minimum.
There is only so much human beings can take in.
More is not better.
So often we will give our energy and time to a gathering - to have logistics become an unwieldy group discussion the first 15 minutes.
Or to have the lecture go past the point of being able to listen.
One of the things I am becoming more and more clear about is the need for containers to hold our process.
Therapists do this in their clinical hours.
In groups the pressure rises.
The container needs to be strong - the practicalities need to be taken care of and communicated in advance.
Those holding space need to be attentive to what is happening in the room and to provide individual attention as necessary.
When we open to ourselves, information suffocates our soul. It hurts. Lectures are not required.
Receiving information and doing personal work are two separate things that need to be kept separate.
I have a passion for creating that space.
Space where we can unfold together.
I am coming to understand the strength it takes to hold that space.
To hold the silence. To let the practices take lots of time. To trust the group wisdom.
To hold strong boundaries so individual expressions of emotion are expressed and not sent to others.
It would be easier to give lectures on theory.
It would be easier to pack the day with activities.
It would be easier to give advice.
Instead, the day starts with each participant writing down where they are right now. What is happening for them. We are trying to catch the messages as they come - with our first thoughts and reactions.
The writing is put in a bowl and we go around the room - each person reading the piece of paper they take out of the bowl.
Between each reading we breathe.
In this way we are physically experiencing each other.
Seeding the room with each other’s experiences.
Next we stand up and move.
We end up in groups and are asked to get to know each other without words. Looking at each other. Taking each other in.
It’s difficult. Hard to bear. Am I really here? Part of this little group and enough just as I am?
And then in twos we talk. We speak without a verbal response from our listening partner. We are heard. Our words stand. Kleenex is distributed.
There is no information here. Just an opportunity to express ourselves with others.
The exercises sound simple.
They are simple for the mind.
They are a lot for the heart.
I write a lot about our own thinking. Having our thoughts. Having our feelings. Our own agency.
These values underpin the workshops I facilitate. I am committed to creating a strong container where what is happening for the participants is paramount.
In groups we have the opportunity to augment our daily work and have powerful experiences of love and connection that propel us forward into ourselves.
It is my belief that each of us needs this kind of holding. We need a lot of it. We needed a lot of it. We need it before we can do it for others. We need it while we do it for others.
We need to be held as we are, as we think, and feel, and express. We need to be accompanied as we explore ourselves. This is the work of healing and it happens moment by moment, hour by hour.