Gratitude practices are a powerful way to begin a session. Appreciation and attention can be given to each participants experience and reasons for coming. We can also be thankful for the love, integrity, and courage that motivated each person to come.
“Why am I here?” – 20-25 minutes (15-20 person group)
5 min – Sharing in pairs: Each person has approx 2 minutes to answer this question, while their partner listens. Facilitator keeps track of time, and let’s group know when it is time for the second person to speak.
15-20 min – Whole group share: Each person has one minute to introduce themselves and talk about what brought them to this workshop or gathering (building on the longer, more intimate sharing experience they had with their partner). To keep track of time, a time piece is passed among the group. After a person shares, they receive the time piece and keep track of time for the next person. When the time is up, the person holding the time piece can simply pass it to the person who is sharing, who then wraps up what they are saying and keeps track of time for the following person.
Introductions: Each participant is asked to state their name and the gender pronoun they prefer to be called by (she/her; he/him; they; etc). Allowing participants to establish their own gender identity to the group, rather than making assumptions, establishes a gender inclusive space.
In some groups, the facilitator may also ask that each person share what organization or spiritual community they are affiliated with (if it is a gathering that includes people from different communities). (back to Index of Practices)
“The Milling” adapted for White Awake – 10 minutes
The Milling exercise can be found on pages 94-98 of Coming Back to Life, Macy & Brown. While this exercise is placed in the “Despair Work” chapter, many of the partner meditations found within this version of the Milling focus on gratitude.
Stand up and begin with a short body scan (see Mindfulness Practices). Then begin to walk with awareness of your body … of your body in space … of the space around you (the facilitator can list some features of or objects in the space) … and of the other people in the space with you (“including me, the facilitator, sitting here talking to you!”). Begin to play with moving at different speeds, using a soft focus so that you don’t run into one another or objects in the space, while continuing to maintain a broad awareness.
After playing with speed (sometimes fast, sometimes very slow), begin to slow down and make eye contact with the other participants as you pass them. Know, as you make eye contact, that each one of these people is someone who cares. Continue to walk and make contact with the people you pass. (Pause). Now, stop in front of the next person you make eye contact with. Maintain a eye contact with them, while allowing your vision to remain loose and taking in the entire presence of this other person.
This person before you is someone who cares – about life, about our world, about justice and injustice, about exploitation. This is someone who lives with a certain kind of privilege in this world – and whose experience in other ways is undoubtedly marginalized at times. But today, they are showing up with courage to look at the privilege they live with that they have not earned. They are taking the initiative to look at things that are uncomfortable, because they care. And because if they had to choose between integrity or comfort, they would choose integrity. Honor this desire, this natural impulse of life: to want to be whole, to long for the truth, to care about the experience of the whole. And thank this person for coming. (back to Index of Practices)