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Stories: Dialogue and Workshops

Interview with Dr. Kaye Moore

When women come together in groups to explore life’s questions, something magical can happen. How personal and group transformation can occur is discussed in Renee Levi’s interview with Dr. Kaye Moore, facilitator of Connections groups.

RL: Kaye, please explain why you thought of your women’s groups when I mentioned collective resonance.

KM: I experienced collective resonance many times when facilitating gatherings of women using a format of question-guided interactions in small groups. The questions served to usher women into speaking about their own experiences in a deep way. I call the process “connections” and it is a process that allows women to feel connected to others in a very meaningful way and in a short amount of time. I have used this format with groups of 6 or 8 and with ballrooms full of 500 people. The needed elements are small groups, a safe structure in which women can be honest, and time! Women take care of the rest.

When women gather there is often a felt sense of apprehension, curiosity, and a general sense of apathy, boredom, and what I call group “deadness” because there is a cultural expectation that they will sit there and a speaker will speak AT them for a time. I perceive this as individuals sitting in a room together but with very rigid boundaries set up for protection. Everyone feels separate from everyone else.

Then as women begin to share their personal insights, feelings, and stories about life (elicited by these carefully crafted questions which create a richer dialogue) something begins to happen in the room. Women become more animated, there are bursts of laughter from around the room, participants are riveted in their eye contact to the storyteller/participant and they physically lean forward and nod their heads in response.

The energy in the room begins to physically shift and there is a sense of movement…. a flowing energy, almost an “electric” resonance that can be felt. I walk around the room observing what is going on. I see joy and aliveness in women’s eyes. That deadness and boredom drops away. My understanding of this is that as they connect with one another the boundaries dissipate or dissolve completely and they are united in their commonality as human beings.

When a woman hears the story of another that is so like her own she literally is quickened in her spirit by the sense that she is united with this other in a very mysterious way. “I feel exactly that way!” “That happened to me too!” “Oh I am so glad to hear you say that…I thought I was the only one who did that. Maybe I’m not crazy after all!” Barriers go down. Stereotypes and prejudices are suspended if just for that time.

I think there is a healing, therapeutic transformation happening and I call this the therapy of being listened to, being understood, and being accepted for who you are in your essence. The energy in the room and among the women lifts up and it calls forth so that women really begin to tell the truth of their experience more and more authentically and easily. So as the energy is freed up in each woman it can unite with all the other energy in the room and it is a powerful thing! In a sense there is a recognition of the spirit in each one and a common Force/Source/God is tapped into.

RL: It sounds like what you are saying is that the doorway, the access point to the spirit within or without is the commonality of experience…seeing oneself in somebody else’s eyes. And once that resonance happens, that‘s a doorway into the God within or a bigger universal source.

KM: I think that is true and I think everyone feels the energy shift. They feel that this is different, important, bringing a relief from their isolation in a real way. And this feels good….lightens the load. Many laugh out loud! And women report that they had no idea they thought or felt a certain way until they answered that question. Self-revelation is increased and magnified because of the witness and acceptance of others. There is a group shift and an individual shift. We are different in some way from the way we were when we walked in the room.

RL: Kaye, you are in this room and in this energy…what do you feel?

KM: I feel very excited and joyful. I laugh. I clap my hands a lot because I am so entertained by what women are saying. I feel uplifted…like I can go out of this room and be better tomorrow because I have connected with these women in this way. I am not alone. My perceptions as a woman have been validated.

I feel the energy most in my heart chakra. Really I think that is happening in the groups as well. The hearts of the women facing each other are being knit together by their common experience. Oh, I just thought of this…they are creating a mandala with their energy exchange in the circles!

RL: What value or significance have your experiences of collective resonance had for your life or work?

KM: This kind of collective resonance absolutely keeps me going in my work. I think that women very infrequently have the experience of being understood and validated for who they uniquely are and I believe my purpose here is to provide that experience for women, whether it is one on one or in a group.

In therapy one of the goals is to give perspective, to normalize experience. Many people do not know that what they are going through is usually quite common to the human experience. They believe that they are somehow exhibiting aberrant or pathological behavior when in fact they are just being human! When they learn experientially that this is so-that they are just human and not crazy- there is a lifting of a burden and a sense of lightness (because they have seen the light!) that transforms forever.

RL: And so you believe, then, that you can re-create this experience?

KM: I absolutely can. There are a few elements that have to be in place. First, I have to be holding a very high intention in my own spirit for the good of all in the room (or in the counseling room). I need to create an atmosphere of trust through sharing some of my own stories. I think energetically I have to be approachable, safe, warm, loving in a way that gets communicated and felt by the participants. I never know exactly how this will come about but if my intention is strong and pure, Spirit takes care of the details of how that happens.

Then I think there must be a vehicle- the questions-that usher the women into a deeper level of communication. They must be facing one another in a circle and everyone must respond to the same question in turn. An optimum size of group is 6-8 people. I always say that if you just set up the experience and give women time and opportunity they will do the rest.

RL: So you’re saying that whatever is necessary for connecting is already there. It is not you who are creating something.

KM: I am doing nothing but showing up to set the tone of safety and warmth and caring. I state a basic rule that no one responds or judges or comments after each of the responses. The participants are there to listen. This careful listening with no commenting is very valuable to the speaker. She can see that her words are having an impact through the looks of understanding in eye contact, the body language, and I think through the energy exchanges of the participants. It always feels to me that some of the women in the circle may have never been listened to before. I sometimes have a feeling of joy that this is happening for women now, but acute sadness that they have not had more experiences of being truly listened to.

RL: Kaye, when you speak about your experiences with these groups, as we are doing here, what are you actually feeling while describing it?

KM: I feel excitement and a feeling of being fully alive even as I talk about the experiences. There is a kind of vibrating going on in my body, especially in the heart area. I get that overwhelming joy as I see in my mind’s eye the happy, animated faces of women being themselves and being loved for being themselves! I have this description for myself that when I get really excited, when I am touched, when I am learning something really new and important, that I feel my cells moving!! And that is what it feels like in the group experiences and often in a counseling session.

I always say to groups that this is live theater. Together we create that drama of that moment in time and it will never be created in exactly the same way ever again. And the most important part of it is that women are invited to take center stage. Their normal lives are worthy of center stage and telling their individual story is the most riveting and compelling drama there is. And, perhaps for the first time for some, they get a felt experience of being the leading lady on that stage. This is transformative.

Kaye Moore continues to work with women all over the world to honor and amplify their inherent capacity to connect.

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