Thursday, January 21, 2010

The group voice

This past weekend I began a year's worth of training at the Indianapolis Gestalt Institute, where I will add a specialization in Gestalt approaches to the MDiv in pastoral care and counseling. I love both narrative and Gestalt and find that they work together harmoniously to help us be aware of the energy that's arising in the present moment and notice the story that is shaping the expression of that energy.

One of the areas that fascinates me is the idea of the arising field--the idea that we aren't separate individual beings but part of an interrelated field of events in each living moment. (That's a deeper subject that requires lots more explanation, but I'll tackle that in a future post.) The piece that's resonating for me this morning relates to a conversation I had with two others recently. We were discussing different stories in our lives, and I noticed that as I talked about my own awareness, I used the word "violence," which isn't normally part of my vocabulary. Hearing it come out of my mouth was jarring--I felt the energy leap out of me with the word. It shook me up.

Just moments later, one of the other people in the group described a story that included the theme of being forced to do something--the image she painted was not peaceful, and, in fact, I thought, "Oh my goodness, there's that violence theme again!"

The third person (whom I had never met before) was very high energy and had a loud voice. All movements and expressions seemed exaggerated, put-on. In the moment I was aware and curious about the expressions of "violence" that came from two of us but not the third. Then the person mentioned a difficult conflicted power struggle with his aging father and I thought--"aha...there's the source of that energy."

So my curiosity and my question is this: How much of what we express is really "sharing the burden" with another and helping them manifest emotions and circumstances they need in order to heal? Is your anger your anger? Or are you assisting me by feeling something for me until I'm able to feel it for myself?


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