At Monte da Vida one of our core practices for the community is to gather for a group meditation, presence and sharing circle. Occasionally we hold a group that is open to people outside of the community who are interested in a truthful and open meeting. Please contact us if you are interested in participating or wish us to host a group for you.
Our sessions normally take place in two parts. In the first half of the session we learn Taoist presence practices that help get more into the body, the basis for any powerful meditation practice. These practices are used interactively with others in the group to give you insight into how other people can affect you, and how you affect them.
In the second part we move into a spontaneous group dynamic with the goal of finding and learning to express and accept what is really true for you in the moment. This adds aliveness and an unknown element that lets you hone your presence skills in a more real world format.
Guidelines for the spontaneous group.
1. Aim to speak from the heart
2. Aim to stay in the present moment and in touch with your body. Avoid ‘discussions’ in the abstract.
3. Aim to keep all discussion about the here and now. Express what is going on for you in relation to yourself and others in the group.
4. Aim to discover and refine your own personal way to support others in the above three guidelines.
Miles Davis the famous jazz musician said “There are no wrong notes.” the same applies in the group, everything can be used as part of the play of your own discovery if seen in that light.
The group process is sometimes dynamic and sometimes very still. We hope it to be supportive as a very powerful tool to help you let go of the hidden and unconscious behaviors adopted as defense mechanisms.
Details on spontaneous group practice
The group is often a powerful experience and can be challenging if you are not used to a higher level of in the moment honesty. When people are prepared to risk their vulnerability and discover what they honestly think or feel in front of others, the group becomes increasingly intimate. Daring to enter the unknown to explore, and then share it, while in others’ presence nearly always creates a powerful transformation in whoever gives it a go.
Sharing can include: judgements or triggers from what other people have shared, as well as support, provided it is given honestly (i.e not as an avoidance of something in you). Be prepared to be challenged to help you discover this. It also includes learning how to share your presence with others in silence; the most absolute truth to share is that you exist here and now, and that needs no words.
Sharing yourself in this way is uncommon, but it can, and over time will, feel like the most natural way to be with others. This naturalness is often experienced by others as a sense of presence or power.
How to best use the group process: ‘exploring your edges’
Ideally your goal in the group is simply to be available to discover the truth, your truth, in the moment, whatever that is, even if it keeps changing, and then to practice and play with sharing that with the group within the guidelines above.
More specifically, if you want to use the group to transform your hidden beliefs about yourself, aim to find:
a) What feels challenging or vulnerable for you to bring out and share. This is often called ‘your edge’.
b) Practice bringing that forth into the group. ‘Exploring your edges’ in this way can help you to discover you are ok there. Being present with yourself while allowing yourself to be vulnerable on your edge, no matter what others may think or do about it, will transform you, as once you have done this, what was your edge, is no longer your edge. You know you can exist there and be ok. Exploring your edge with a high degree of presence is the key, hence the value of the presence practices training. If you can’t stay present with the process it can be traumatic, repeating an old trauma is not the same as leaving it behind for good.
Presence and honesty to oneself is the key. You must come to the group with an open attitude to explore this, otherwise the group is not for you .
The process is simply an interactive mindful meditation, showing you opportunities to go inward and transform, while the rest of the group do the same thing for themselves individually. At an advanced level this simply becomes a group meditation.
Things to check in with
The group is only for people that sincerely want to experiment with being ‘seen’ in this way by others. Individuals who want to stay closed diminish the experience for the others in the group. Its fine, and even recommended, to take your time though. Being totally open if you are normally closed might be a shock, even if it were a relief to let it all go.
b) Fixing or being fixed
Its not a therapy group, trying to ‘fix’ or change someone is discouraged if it is not an honest expression of what you are really feeling. Also going to a group expecting to get fixed by others is a bad idea, unless you are really prepared to say what you need upfront and are really ok not to get it.
Be prepared to be called on any irresponsibility. Blame or Complaint are good examples of irresponsibility as they make what ‘you’ are feeling about the ‘other’. So be sure you are grounded in the fact that what anyone and everyone says, particularly about you ‘is their own story’. What you believe about what someone says about you ‘is up to you’.
If you are offended in any way by someone’s comments, this is a clear sign you already believe what they say about you. So just remember this is useful and empowering to recognize (ie that you already believe the offensive content). That belief is your responsibility and so you can change it.