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Group Practices: Vulnerability

In the situations of several participants in the Group Magic dissertation research, vulnerability caused by outside factors, factors completely beyond their control, precipitated a breakdown of the usual defenses that human beings have to protect themselves but that sometimes serve to keep them isolated and alone. Examples included physical illness, fatigue, difficult physical surroundings or danger. The collective resonance that was emerged in each of these kinds of situations was reported to have contributed to a positive outcome.

A homemade painted banner hanging inside St Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan during the nine months of its Ground Zero relief operation read "Courage is Fear That Has Said Its Prayers". Especially in the early days, being there was frightening, chaotic. The volunteer coordinator described it as "like being in a war zone." See Story That simple banner acknowledged that outside factors were creating a sense of vulnerability, and also that a kind of surrender, “saying its prayers”, allowed the effort to go on. I think this banner holds the key to why in some situations resonance, and not other, more negative, outcomes occurred. What made the difference, it seems, was a kind of allowing of the group process, a willingness by each group member to let go, surrender, or release into the collective.

The practice then, is to create a sense of safety and trust, so that the group can become aligned as a collective to face the challenging outside factors. Establish guidelines that make self-revelation safe, that make it okay to acknowledge that these factors are creating a certain real or perceived vulnerabity. Then assure people that, in the words of one facilitator I interviewed, “we’re all here, we can do this for each other.”

SOURCE: Renee Levi, Group Magic interviews See Profile

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