Introducing a “Trust Group”
(This as a simple, short term, safe and interactive small group experience. Easy to set up and run, based on: Parker Palmer’s “A Hidden Wholeness.”)
Creating the Container
1. Boundaries that work
a. Clear Limits, “a small circle of limited duration that is intentional about it’s process.”
b. Group size: 5-8
c. When and how long to meet, Ex, twice per month for 3 – 4 hours
d. End point: Example, agree to meet for 8 meetings, or 4 months,
2. Leadership/facilitator, “the first among equals in creating and protecting a space where everyone’s soul can feel safe.”
a. Thoughtful preparation of group agenda
b. Assist the group to hold a safe space and witness the story of others. “Thou shalt not even try to save each other.”
c. Authority of leadership must be granted by the group.
d. Leadership also includes being a participant in the group.
neither too “fragile to lead” nor taking up space from others.
3. Open Invitations, “this is not a share or die event.”
a. Everyone’s participation is voluntary.
b. Create an open space from which to share “when someone is ready to speak, that person is invited to do so, followed by whoever wants to go next, until the last person who wants to speak has done so.”
c. No coercion in action or word, questioning looks or directly asking, if someone chooses to not speak respect their silence and their soul.
4. Common Ground, “on which people of diverse beliefs can explore issues of the inner life”
a. Frame exploration through the use of “The Third Thing.”
b. As the soul is shy, we use a metaphor through the use of poetry, song, observation of the natural world, etc. which helps people to speak in a way that has meaning for the speaker.
5. Graceful Ambience
a. The room should not be cramped or cavernous, allow for a comfortable Circle.
b. Provide visual relief, eye level windows or art on the walls
c. Décor warm and inviting, candles, flowers.
d. Acoustically quiet space, use of carpet or drapes.
e. Lighting, incandescent and warm.
Rules & Agreements: Depth and trust in our relations with each other
1. Listen & speak from your heart. Speak from your own experience. Relax and trust another’s inner teacher. Don’t try to fix each other or the situation.
2. Stay in the moment. Be present to witness others. Don’t rehearse or plan what you will say.
3. Be concise. Be of lean expression
4. Hold confidentiality. What is said in the group stays in the group
“Third Things” we have successfully used:
o Reading from: As Far As The Heart Can See, The invitation to grow, Mark Nepo.
o Reading from: My Grandfather’s Blessings, All in the Family, Rachel Naomi Remen
o Leonard Cohen song: Anthem.
o Theme of “harvest,” looking back at the year, Rosh Hashanah.
o Reading: The White Bear, King Valemon.
o Telling the story of Persephone.
o I Ching group/individual reading. This was truly amazing!
o Nature walks with assigned themes.
Important Books to explore Gift Group or Circles of Trust.
o We Need Each Other by Bill Kauth and Zoe Alowan
o A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer
Dinner 6 – 7 PM
7:00 1. Share intention, offer invocation, silence, review ground rules & agreements and give agenda for the evening
7:10 2. Check in: 2 minute each share of: How are you? What would you like us to know about you right now? Remember: not a time for crosstalk ? Timekeeper?
7:40 3. A “third thing”: Reading, poem, art or activity.
7:50 4. In whole group, each member responds to the “third thing” by offering a personal reaction or insight.
8:15 5. Break out into 2 groups and share about your relationship with the “third thing.” When has it been difficult or easy. How would viewing others and ourselves in relations to this feel?
8:45 6. Back to the whole group for a quick share popcorn style. What surprised you? Touched you? Inspired you? Personal Story share.
9:15 7. Give feedback: people share about what touched/move them in the group this evening. Not that: Responses are about you, not about the person who shared their journey. Reminder not to give advice or try to fix anyone.
9:25 8. Last circle quick go round: How are you? Anything to give, or needed?
9:30 9. Next meeting date and place?