As we sit down together, let us recognise that each of us has been through our own journey before we got to this place. Each of us will have gifts and joys to bring, though we may have to dig long and deep to find them. Each of us will probably have been wounded in some way, emotionally, psychologically, physically, and group may be a place to find healing for some of those wounds.
As we look across the circle into the faces of the other men, we realise that each of us holds in our heart hopes and fears; hopes for a new beginning, new possibilities, a new connecting and breaking free of isolation - fears of what may happen, fears of failure or inability to 'bridge the gap' and being 'alone' again once more.
Each of us digs into our reserves of courage, without knowing what our limits are. Each of us works to find the words that say what is true for us - for some they may flow more easily than for others. Beneath it all, we are implicitly saying: 'I am here to do the work of getting to know myself better, to reveal myself, my issues, to a depth I may never have reached before; and I am here to get to know you, and witness you, and ultimately to honour you and your journey'. Through it all may there be insight, wisdom and growth for all of us.
But in these first few meetings, what are our major (inner) concerns?Firstly:
'Do I fit in, am I included?'
'Can I work with this group of men?'
'Am I ready to reveal myself, take that risk?'
'Can I trust these men, will they shame me?'
'What issues are being revealed - what's not being revealed?'
'What does my intuition say? - What's my gut reaction?'
'How does it feel to sit-in with this group of men?'
'Which man/men do I react to? - Why? - What don't I like? - Who do I like? - Why?'
'Does anyone not feel included? - Why?' 'Who is being excluded? - Why?'
'Am I being heard?' 'Does what I say/want mean anything to these men?'
'Are they able/willing to respond to my concerns?'
'Will I have sufficient influence (to satisfy me) with how the group creates and runs itself?'
'Am I ready to do my inner work, and be vulnerable/intimate with these men?'
'Is this enjoyable, or just a pain in the neck?'
We will probably be acutely sensitive and observant of what's going on, what kind of attitudes are being shown. We may be aware of a lot of energy stored up, looking for a place to come out… We may be pleasantly surprised if it goes smoothly, and flows. We may leave the meeting feeling buoyant and supported already. Or we may realise and be confronted by all the work there is to do, and have a sense of needing to find even more energy and courage. We may decide that now is not the right time to do this work… Or we may reserve judgement for a few more meetings (ideally, at least five); or we may be ready to commit right now, knowing that this is what we've been looking for all along. Good luck!
1-1 Listening and speaking from the heart
1-2 Mission Statement - attempting to define what the group is all about
1-3 Initial Guidelines - starting to create the 'container'
1-4 Speaking your Truth
1-5 Naming the group, Initial Commitment Period, Working Guidelines
1-6 Statement of Group Agreements