We know that coming together supports healing. The obvious reason is because in a group, we are not alone. But what makes it lighter to go through our challenges in the company of people we just met? Why do we grow exponentially when we support others in their own growth? How does healing really happen in a group?
Partly by being seen, listened to and witnessed in my own vulnerability. I share my story, my struggle and I know that I am heard with compassion and without judgment. The group allows me to come into relation with others, so I no longer need to deal with my troubles alone. When I speak my pain and others listen, the pain is absorbed by their open hearts. What felt overwhelming a moment ago lands softly into the circle. It loses its edge when together, we create more space around it. When we are seen, we know we matter. The more I shine, the more we all shine. The group is the bridge between all our stories. It takes a village to keep us sane, to normalize our quirkiness, to be seen in our truth and to be loved for that very truth. In a group we can very quickly achieve, sometimes in a matter of minutes, a degree of intimacy that we may not attain with some of our next of kin. In the safety of the group we slowly take off our masks to reveal our rawness and beauty.
Healing in a group also happens through participation, by being part of the whole. When I choose not to be a simple spectator, nor a consumer, nor an observer. When I dare to give. When I am committed to contribute to the well being of others, listening with awareness and bearing witness to their story. We can help write each other’s stories, weaving a chapter of our life together. Realising that we all have unique circumstances, but the same universal themes: how do we belong, become, give and take in our life? What are we here for? When we take turns to speak around a circle of people, we influence each other and we contribute to the healing of all. We can feel the energy building up as the turn moves around. One by one adding our voice to the group, we join the choir of humanity.
Groups also bring together old and young, a mixture of genders, cultures, beliefs, give us a sense of belonging and a place in the context of humankind. Sitting in the circle with our elders brings us calmness and strength. Witnessing how younger people are committed to grow is inspiring and uplifting. It is comforting to be together in our differences. Taking various positions, as teacher, student, representative, witness, supporter and seeker enriches our experience and connects us to life itself. Beyond labels and roles.
However, there is another aspect to healing in groups that I especially cherish. It’s what I call “accidental healing”. This happens when we drop our own agenda, when we come without too many expectations of healing this or that and we are open to “whatever we are meant to learn today”. Often life has its own purpose, and comes up with something unexpected. Life likes to play peek-a boo with us: sometimes it’s someone’s comment during a coffee break that carries the answer to my question, or a hug that lessens my shaking. Perhaps it’s someone else’s constellation that triggers my dormant grief, or a smile, a quote, that touches my heart. Those are the little and great moments in the life of a group. I have experienced and witnessed many of those magic moments in constellation workshops and training, as a participant, a seeker and a facilitator. To those moments, I will be forever grateful. They are the zest of life, cheeky and unpredictable.
Photo: Pep Gasol