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Group Practices: Container Contraction
Human Containers
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Why DO football players go into a huddle before each play, or performers gather in a tight circle before they go on stage? Why is there a ritual at business meetings of exchanging handshakes, or, as the Japanese do, presenting business cards? The importance of these practices goes beyond sharing of information and instructions. The study of collective resonance suggests that these “teammates” are contracting their environment with their bodies to contain the resonance they hope to feel with each other in the activities to follow.

People will also spontaneously gather in a tighter group after a moving experience, as if to create a human container for the resonance they are feeling.

Creating human containers is relatively simple. A speaker or facilitator might suggest that people draw their chairs in closer, or if people in an audience are spread out, that they take seats in the front, close together. After an experience where resonance emerged, don’t hurry people out of the room. Allow them to congregate, to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle, or even to hug.

Of course, be sensitive to cultural or gender differences. People from Latin and Asian cultures, in general, tend to have a more contracted personal space and congregate in tighter groupings than do Western Europeans. A women’s circle might find a group hug natural and comfortable, while a group of men might not—and a mixed group might find it uncomfortable for different reasons.

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