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Peer residential group, first full day: pain, challenge, sunshine, love & dancing (2nd post)

After a rather inauspicious start on Friday (see yesterday's post), the next day - Saturday, the first full day of the group - was, for me, deeply wonderful.  One of the really special days of my life.  An ocean of a day, so much happened. A bit like a lifetime in itself.

So up and writing early after sleeping poorly.   And then several of us meditating together.  Loving kindness practice - wishing us all so well for this challenging coming day.  Breakfast and into the full group. Quiet and then people sharing.  Honesty.  Opening up pain.  Unchangable difficulties.  Hearing and feeling the suffering of it. Looking at it straight in the face.  Silences.  Being together.  Crying ... and warmth ... care ... laughter emerging through the tears.  The changing weather of suffering, kindness & even joy.  Coffee and then back to the previous night's jammed process of trying to select small support groups from the eighteen of us participating on this weekend.  Doing the selection process standing in the September sunlight on the back lawn. 

This is such a good example of one of the key themes, the key lessons of this kind of group, of life too - how do I stay true to what's emerging in me, the emotions, the impulses, the images, the thoughts ... while also caring deeply for others and how they are experiencing what's happening?  And this small group selection process can be this challenge in action.  And surprisingly quickly and easily we selected into three groups of six.  Great. 

And then our sixsome - who had agreed we would focus during the time we spent together particularly on here-and-now interactions - met in a small sitting room.  Three sofas making an as-close-as-we-can-bring-them triangle. And the feeling/speaking 'mindfulness practice' of "How am I feeling right now with the five of you?" Such practice in awareness, in honesty, in caring.  So rich.  So relevant for our lives more generally, our work as health professionals, as parents, as husbands & wives, as friends, as inhabitants of this earth!  I have talked about this territory before in posts such as "Emotional intelligence: the potential value (and potential cost) of identifying and naming what we're feeling" and "Is interpersonal group work better than sitting meditation for training mindfulness?"

Not easy.  Challenges.  Expressing difficulties & uncertainties.  Expressing love.  That fascinating question from Irvin Yalom to look at, sense into, and articulate - "How do I feel about the space between us?"  A bit of a jargony way of putting it, but so often helpful.

Then to lunch.  Yummy soup and yummy conversation.  And then walking up into the countryside in the delicious September sunshine.  Oak trees. Beeches.  Such old favourites.  And in the late afternoon ten of us meeting for a "special interest group" on love.  So many aspects.  People sharing now from their hearts & guts as much as from their heads.  Our lives.  What have we learned?  How does it overlap with the travel reports from others' life journeys.  Divorces. Deaths.  Romance. Passion.  Children.  Friendship.  Working with clients.  Giving.  Guilt. Pain.  Kindness.  Learning from each other.  Tea and the full group and the theme of love re-emerging.  But more on the shadow now.  Shame.  Sharing.  Sadness.  And always the holding sea of kindness.  Tears now coming to my eyes thinking of it.

Then supper.  And dancing.  Crazy, wild, in & out, laughing, joy, exuberance.  Rocking & rolling and then an eightsome reel.  How wonderful.  And to bed.  Happiness, like the sunlight, soaked into my bones ... one of the really precious days of my life.  

And see tomorrow's post for how the "group river" changed.

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