Group Exercises

Guiding Group Work outlines the White Awake educational approach, the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects page takes a deeper look at sequencing, and Themes and Resources outlines concepts and offers resources for exploration. The Group Exercises page links to different sets of activities that can be drawn upon when planning an educational group experience.

The emphasis, within these practices, is on two things:

  1. the cultivation of mindful presence as a foundational tool in race awareness
  2. the development of a collaborative, collective experience

The purpose of the practices linked to here is not to be exhaustive, but to serve as a reference and starting point for further creative exploration.


Whether a participant is mindful of their own thoughts, feelings, body or breath, to the words or actions of another, or to the logic of a new paradigm of thought, White Awake always emphasizes nonjudgmental, self reflective presence. We release judgment, and turn our minds away from distraction, in order to expand our awareness – of ourselves, one another, and the societal patterns we are immersed in. Mindfulness practices during group work help us maintain an open, inquisitive attitude. They allow us to touch in with our own inner process, and help us calm and quiet the mind at periodic intervals.

Mindfulness Practices:

  1. “Body Scan” Sitting Practice
  2. “Present Moment” Sitting Practice
  3. “Warm-Ups”, see Coming Back to Life

Storytelling, Group Process and Collaboration

Coming together for group work makes transformation possible in ways that cannot happen through private study alone. Listening to one another’s stories, sharing insights and responses to new information, engaging in discussion, role playing, and holding space for community ritual has a synergistic effect. When we engage in this work, we are building an experience together: a new language and a common culture of greater racial awareness.

Exercises that emphasize collaboration and interaction are categorized according to the four stages of the spiral of the Work that Reconnects. This sequence is described in detail on the Spiral of the WTR page.

*Note: you may choose to use Seeing with New Eyes practices/discussions toward the beginning of the workshop, and again after Honoring Grief and Strong Emotions. More discussion about this can be found on the Spiral of the WTR page, linked above. These practices are ordered here after Gratitude, as this is the first possible location for their use in a group work setting.

Gratitude Practices:

  1. “Why am I here?”
  2. “The Milling” adapted for White Awake

Practices for Seeing with New Eyes:

  1. “Group Reading and Incremental Discussion”
  2. “White is a Racial Identity”
  3. “What is White Supremacy?”
  4. “Levels of Racism”
  5. “What is it that we need to heal”
  6. “Honoring Origins”

Honoring Grief and Strong Emotions:

  1. “Remedial Education”
  2. “What did this bring up?”
  3. “Cultural Ancestors” or “‘Their’ story is ‘our’ story”
  4. “Breathing Through”
  5. “Open Sentences” to illuminate privilege
  6. “How does healing happen?”
  7. “Small group/Large group share”
  8. “Water and salt”
  9. “Truth Circle” adapted for White Awake

Practices that Prepare for Going Forth:

  1. “Free-writing”
  2. “Building relationships with people of color”
  3. “Specific Application”
  4. “Allies and Intervention Playback”
  5. “What am I taking away?”
  6. “Truth Circle” modified for Going Forth
  7. “Toning”

Return to Manual for Group Work table of contents page

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