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Group Practices: Truth
Horses Don't Lie

If one member of a horse herd gets nervous, the feeling seems to ripple instantly through the entire herd. If the human handlers are nervous, a horse will become nervous, even if the humans act aggressively or pretend to be calm. The work on Emotional Intelligence suggests that emotions are equally contagious among humans in a group.

One of the reasons why equine-assisted therapy and educational programs are gaining in popularity is that "horses don't lie" and therefore they are accurate mirrors for humans they encounter. In fact, horses exhibit strongly negative reactions to a person whose outward affect and behaviors contradict their true feelings. It is as though, as prey animals, they are highly suspicious of the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.

I was reminded of this lesson we can learn from horses when I read in Renee's Group Magic study about one of the people she interviewed, the manager of a campaign team. He reported that as she interviewed him and brought the felt phenomenon of collective resonance to his attention, he realized that he had been guided by his body's signals in intuiting people's intentions and deciding what actions he or the team should take.

Somatic awareness is an important, but usually neglected, group practice. Members of a group can learn to watch one another's body language. They can tune in individually and then ask what others are feeling to confirm their own body's messages. Asking, "Jennifer, I notice you seemed to withdraw when we talked about the last candidate. What are you feeling?" or "I'm suddenly a bit off-center. Does anyone else have a sense that the decision we just made was not quite right, that we are missing something here?" can bring the group into a shared awareness that can, at best, develop into collective resonance.

SOURCE: Beth Thoma Robinson, Ph.D. See Beth's Profile.

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