Meeting 1-1
Focus: Listening & Speaking from the Heart

The basic structure of this meeting is very simple (and all following meetings):

1 Welcome ie greeting the men who have taken the risk to show up (and at subsequent meetings any new men who arrive) - men will be introducing themselves - let's not leave anyone out who may be shy
2 Introduction The man taking a leading role in initiating/facilitating ('leader') the group briefly introduces
  1. The initial aim of the group, as he sees it - But - also invites the men present to participate in creating and defining the group - ie this group belongs to everyone
  2. The basic structure of the meeting
3 Opening Ritual Some groups may like to explore the tradition of opening and closing rituals, these are used widely in men's groups and could be eg lighting a candle (s) - 'smudging' - banging a drum - group hug etc
4 Check-In The 'leader' will announce a round of 'check-ins'
"Each man will now have 5 minutes to 'check-in' - this is 5 minutes of UNINTERRUPTED time to say what's going on for you right now. or what significant events occurred for you during the week. Please focus on the feelings you are experiencing or experienced. We are not here to advise or fix or blame or judge each other - in this exercise we focus on listening and speaking from the heart".
5 The Big Bit in the Middle For meeting one our obvious focus is on getting to know each other - so at this point (with check-ins completed), we have an opportunity for each man -
  1. to give a little biography of himself by way of an introduction
  2. to say what he hopes to get out of being in a men's group
  3. to say if he has a specific issue or focus or ideas he wants to explore
This is an opportunity for more interaction eg discussion, questions etc but we are still focused on really listening to and hearing another man's story.
6 Check-Out The 'leader' will announce a round of 'check-outs' -
"Each man will now have 2 minutes to 'check-out' - this is 2 minutes of UNINTERRUPTED time to say what's going on for you right now, how you experienced the meeting, what feelings came up for you - what sensations you have in your body right now - compare how you felt at the start of the meeting. Also do you want to set a challenge for yourself for next week?"
7 Next Time? Set the time and place for the next meeting, exchange phone numbers/addresses. Call if you can't make_it - it's disappointing waiting to see if you will show up. Usually the host will lead the meeting, ie establish the exercise/issue to work with
8 Closing Ritual eg blowing out the candles - a poem - a chant - group hug - a minute of silence - a minute of noise! - a short saying or story from a book etc

Notes for Meeting 1-1

On Rituals

Rituals have numerous benefits

  1. a therapeutic benefit - signifies this time as 'special' or 'sacred' and helps to imbue this meeting with significance - let's get some special time in our lives! - guess what else starts to feel special…
  2. Defines a boundary between outside and inside (the meeting) - here is different - here is a different focus, different rules - what are they? - let's work at being conscious…
  3. An opportunity/challenge to celebrate our diversity - everyone likes to celebrate don't they?…
  4. ?

As each man takes on role of hosting a meeting in the weeks ahead, he may like to experiment with the ritual and this is one way we can support each other & celebrate our diversity.

On Check-Ins

It is always a good idea to get into check-ins quite quickly; it helps men be 'present', after all, it is 'their' meeting - someone may have an issue he needs to get into like right now and it may be difficult for him to wait too long…

Options - go around the circle (alternate clockwise, anti-clockwise each week?), or just leave the floor open to any man to speak as he chooses (talking stick?).

The 'leader' will need a watch to keep track of each man's allocated time, only he may interrupt a speaker to let him know his time is up (one minute warning?)

Noticing the energy…

Sometimes a man checks-in with an issue that is so profound and happening right now, that it is obvious this needs to be focussed on and given more time. The best way is to follow agreed-to time limits, so all men are allowed to check-in, but then to ask that man, and the group, if they wish to spend more time on that issue. Other men also may have significant issues to discuss and so the group negotiates and allocates time to each issue (timekeeping is important). It's ok for a man to ask for what he wants. If a group can dynamically respond in the moment to this energy and these issues it will better serve men's needs than by rigidly hanging on to a predetermined program.

Periods of silence are ok - the men are processing/getting ready to speak - it is also ok to pass, occasionally - but if a man passes consistently, week after week, he should be gently encouraged or invited to speak - ask him to try to focus on what he's feeling, or one specific issue - often he's wrestling with too many items and doesn't know where to start.

Each man has 5 minutes (or 7 or 10 minutes, by group consensus) to speak uninterrupted and especially to focus on and say what he is feeling (are there any sensations he notices in his body, for instance?).

This is designed to help a man get into his feelings/body (and out of his head).

UNINTERRUPTED? Yes! - There are direct therapeutic benefits we can share and give to each other simply by listening without interrupting.If you have a question, (ie something wasn't clear to you) please wait until he has finished speaking - and then ask permission to ask a question - respect his answer - he may not be ready to hear you - he may need to sit in his own space without disturbance - this is one way we can support each other.

Some groups like to use a 'talking-stick' - a first nations tradition that encourages listening and respect for the speaker by establishing the requirement that only the man holding the 'talking-stick' may speak.