The Principles Of Surrendered Groupwork
These principles are interdependent on one another in their capacities to transform our consciousness, just as we humans are also interdependent on one another for our healing and forward movement in life. The Principles themselves are like reference points in consciousness, doorways through which we can enter into new paradigms of living. Through embodying these principles over time we slowly begin to radically and positively change our way of living to find greater resonance with our true calling.
There are 9 main principles with many other minor principles strewn across the landscape of this work. A little like a starry night sky with a major constellation of stars and many other beautiful tiny dots twinkling in amongst them.
The Principles we work from are as follows:
- Slowing Down, Pausing & Deeper Listening
- Honouring limits
- Presence & Helping
- Allowing feelings
- Awareness of bodily sensations
- Being In Resonance / Exploring Resonance
- Gratitude & Appreciation
- Celebrating What Is
Slowing Down, Pausing & Deeper Listening
"Be patient and keep reminding yourself that you don’t need to experience everything now.
This hero’s journey we are on proceeds one tiny step at a time"
- Dr Peter Levine
The first of the principles is slowing down. Slowing down & Pausing is something that most of us find challenging most of the time. Slowing down & pausing powerfully increases our capacity to be harmoniously present in all of our relations. In the work of Somatic Experiencing we understand that trauma is something that happens as a result of experiencing ‘too much too fast too soon’. Through slowing down and being aware we can begin to heal & integrate difficult past experiences that are being held in our body-mind in the form of unresolved stresses and tensions. Deeper Listening happens naturally as we begin to slow down and transform the inner tensions that we carry in our bodies. The space within us gives birth to new horizons and it is from within the depth of this inner landscape and fertile emptiness that deeper listening grows. If we are constantly trying to fill this space with stuff then we become numb to the beautiful and subtle rhythms of life that it is possible to experience and enjoy. In summary Slowing down & Pausing is about carving out space, Deeper Listening increases in strength and depth alongside the volume of inner space available to us.
Acknowledging & Honouring Limits
The second principle is Acknowledging & Honouring Limits. We so often get caught up in living out of beliefs such as ‘anything is possible’ or ‘I can do anything I want’ or romantically and fantastically chasing goals and big dreams whilst wondering why we continually seem to fall flat on our faces. We have been conditioned into an insensitive culture of aggression which constantly pushes at limits without listening. We so rarely pay much or any attention to the deeper level of feelings and past experiences who lay distraught and undigested within us like heavy impossible weights tied around our souls. Our limits are basically our unresolved past and it is by turning towards the past, facing it, acknowledging it, honouring and celebrating it that we can really become more available to the aliveness of presence and mysterious beauty of life. Positive growth happens when we learn how to both regulate & integrate the pushing and honouring of limits with greater skill and finesse. Knowing when to push and when to honour is an art. The first step is to stop pushing and start honouring.
Relating with our limits
"You don't truly love someone until you love their fate, too."
- Bert Hellinger
When we are not honest about our limits in relationship then often what happens is we unconsciously project these limits onto the other person and then try getting them to change to fit with some idea of what we need in the relationship rather than just accepting the other person as they are. The other person is likely to feel very unseen and the opportunity for real alive contact and intimacy in that relational moment is lost. Being honest about our limits is about taking the risk of sharing our vulnerable feelings. Some people build entire relationships on the foundations of being each other’s limits rather than fostering the potential for real presence, aliveness and beauty in the relationship. Rather than saying to your partner or friend ‘you are my limit’, how would it be to say to them ‘you sometimes remind me of my limits but you are actually my freedom, thank for you being you’. When we relate with our limits in view then greater possibilities are born into the field of that relationship for healing, growth and the widening of access to wondrous new worlds of experience and learning. When both parties in a relationship honour their own and each other’s limits then a truly alive intimacy becomes possible. Of course developing presence and the capacity to parent ourselves is primary to being able to relate so consciously with our limits. Developing stronger relational presence is something we practice in this work.
As I look back towards my parents and my ancestors and recognise how small I am in contrast to them, as I recognise their greatness, all of their love, their strength and their blessings begin to flow through me and carry me forwards in my life. Through accepting my place as a child of my parents and giving up the wish that anything would be different I gain access to infinite ancestral resources, core inner strength, I become big in life. I become the stoic stillness of trees. I am able to call on my ancestors whenever I am in need of support. I learned this from Daan Van Kampenhout in Systemic Ritual. He once said to me, “Isn’t it amazing that whenever we are feeling stressed or tense, getting identified in some kind of suffering, we can pick up our drum and choose to call on our resources through song”. So Resourcing is active self-care. It is about becoming aware of what we need in the present moment and then calling on whatever resources we can access in service of coming back to the experience of our own essence. Whether they be inner resources or outer resources. Sometimes the resources we need in a given situation in order to come back to ourselves are not accessible internally, then we have to find the courage and humility to reach out and ask others for help, whilst accepting that it may not be given. Resourcing is basically about actively connecting with expanded states and frequencies of being as a pathway to healing and transformation. We can do this through conscious relating, positive sensational awareness, creativity, imagination, prayer & meditation. The culture of Resourcing is about orienting ourselves towards the light and trusting that the shadow will dissolve into it as and when it is ready to do so.
Presence & Helping
One of the biggest confusions we have about love in relationship is believing that love and the need to help someone is the same thing. In actuality these two realities are very different, opposites in fact. Love is the capacity to remain present and empathic without reaction or a need to do anything. Love is a state of being not doing. Love is effortless. The presence of love dissolves all tension and brings everything into a state of softness, ease & harmony. When we are consciously aware of the emotional and sensational effect that the suffering of the other has on us and we have developed the resources to empathically be with that then we have a choice about whether to remain lovingly present or not. When we come into contact with a person’s emotional suffering and react immediately and unconsciously into trying to help them, this type of reactive helping behaviour often mislabelled as love is known as rescuing. Psychological Rescuing is a covert form of narcissism, the rescuer prioritises their own need to avoid difficult feelings over a genuine care for the well being of the other. This type of helping is reactive rather than compassionate. Rescuing can have a significantly re-traumatising effect on those identified in suffering. I don’t say this to demonise rescuing behaviours, only to show them for what they really are which are behaviours associated with the survival of the ego. The survival self is the part of our ego that from a very early age has taken care of us through difficult times, rescuing is a survival behaviour, an echo from the past. When I am identified in rescuing behaviours I am trapped in a relational paradigm where I am unable to experience true aliveness and the beauty of real intimacy in relationship. Often we end up here because we don’t have the necessary resources available to grow beyond this paradigm. Through resourcing ourselves and each other, we can move beyond this old paradigm and into a state of love and presence with deep respect for who we really are.
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
- Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi
Feelings are like layers of an onion, one often covers another and that one is covering another one and ultimately the road leads deeper into the centre, towards healing and connecting with the essence of who we are beyond feeling. However in order to make that conscious journey into our true essence we need to practice allowing feelings. That means rather than feeling something and reacting immediately to defend ourselves against the experience of feeling, that we begin to practice a culture of noticing feelings, allowing feelings & being with feelings. Of course our capacity to allow feelings increases as we feel the safety, holding and experience the resources available in the group space, then allowing feelings becomes much easier. Over time we can learn to cultivate a greater integrity of inner space within which we can more easily parent challenging feelings. Until we have developed that inner space then we may need to receive more support from the outside in order to more effectively adopt this new paradigm of feeling. It may come as a surprise to some but it is possible to experience feelings such as sadness, shame, guilt and despair and not let that effect our overall state of happiness and presence. It takes time to arrive here, like anything we have to invest the time to learn these new pathways for progressive living. Being true to ourselves and our feelings takes time, it does not happen overnight. Through this work of allowing feelings we carve out greater space in our souls so as our true passion and purpose may take up residence and begin moving us towards our true destiny.
Awareness Of Sensations
“A few moments of feeling it in your body allows it to change. If there is in you something bad or sick or unsound, let it inwardly be and breathe into it. That's the only way it can evolve and change into the new form it needs to become.”
- Eugene T Gendlin
I want to introduce this guiding principle with the words of John O’Dononhue. “The earth is our origin and destination. The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within us: the clay from where the tree of the body grows”. The source of life itself lies within each of us. Sensational awareness is the forgotten language of the earth. Each sensation is a doorway to a deeper truth about who we are, where we have come from and what we have experienced. Through reclaiming our awareness of sensations and their rootedness in the present moment we are reclaiming our belonging and our connection with the strength, beauty, aliveness, resilience and fruits of the deep and ancient wisdom that the earth has to offer. Our bodies are the earth and our sensations are the bridge toward home, coming home to who we are. Through practising awareness of sensations we are making the slow trek home to ourselves, across mountains and through wild vistas of earthly wonder. Of course there are tigers and lions to face along the way, there will be storms and cold nights but each day is also blessing us with the stillness of trees, the beautiful way in which sunlight floods through their branches & the nourishing fruits generously offered by them to sustain us on the journey home.
In this embodied experience we are having there exists a diverse spectrum of sensations all belonging to the darkness, the light and those twilight spaces in between where owls hoot and stars twinkle. Some sensations we experience represent our limits and unresolved traumas. Some sensations we experience represent our resources, the things in life that feel supportive, inspiring and seem to bring us closer to touching happiness and contentment. In reality all sensations are gifts in one form or another, the only difference is that sensations associated with the suffering of the past that remain heavy in our unconscious have not yet realised their true destiny, they are waiting patiently for us to gain the strength to give them birth into the sparkling light of the world.
Being In Resonance / Exploring Resonance
We have been blessed in this life to be born into such richness and diversity of colour. The Principle of Being in or Exploring Resonance offers us the opportunity to grow beyond our limits and begin to embrace each other’s differences. Finding new ways of being in relationship with ourselves & each other.
Horizontal Resonance is about taking the risk to listen deeply inside the world of the other, letting go of our own way of seeing things and taking the time to come into deeper resonance with others, letting ourselves be changed by the experience of relating more openly whilst also remaining aware of our own needs and staying in touch with our own presence. This is something many of us find challenging in relationship, being present and aware of our own needs whilst also being connected inside the world of the other. Horizontal Resonance is very much about developing empathy for (the capacity to feel) others whilst maintaining our own integrity of presence and being. It is when we practice consciously being of service to others by feeling their world whilst staying present in our own that true relational alchemy can really begin to happen. Like flowers slowly starting to come into bloom we open to one another as our unique frequencies begin dancing together in the space between us, discovering together a new frequency that opens doors to unknown and magical places that we could never have found without each other.
Vertical Resonance is where we temporarily let go of identity and resonate with different frequencies of feeling in service of healing. This may mean resonating with limits or with resources. We do this in service of healing ourselves and each other. Vertical Resonance is about learning the art of feeling and presence. Vertical Resonance is born out of my experience with the representative experience in the fields of Family Constellation & Systemic Ritual. It is about gaining access to the strength available through our deep roots, coming into presence and reaching for the stars. I believe our collective purpose as humans is to remember that we are like trees, we are bridges between the earth and the sky, Vertical Resonance is about remembering this deep purpose, reclaiming the intelligence of vertical connectedness which many of us have lost.
Gratitude & Appreciation
"To suffer is a lot easier than change. In order to become happy, one needs to have courage"
- Bert Hellinger
It is through appreciation and in gratitude that I discover the true essence of my being. As I bow in gratitude to life I say, “You are big & I am small, thank you for blessing me with all that I have and all that I am, I take your blessing as a great gift and with them I have the strength to embody the gifts that I was born into this life to realise". Life, love, passion, aliveness, strength & beauty are all given to us from somewhere, through acknowledging the source of these gifts, through appreciation and in gratitude to all our ancestors, we enable a forward movement in life. We naturally begin to embody these gifts and pass them forward with great effortlessness. Gratitude & Appreciation is the key to healing past trauma and moving beyond unnecessary suffering into a life paradigm where magic happens in every breath. Gratitude & Appreciation is about making the invisible visible, it is about acknowledging that we have received something great, it is a way of saying, “I see you, I acknowledge in this moment you are bigger than me and I thank you for what you have given”. In this movement of humility and acknowledging from where our strength and inspiration has come from we shift into a natural state of generous overflowing that benefits all those we come into contact with. True giving is not something we need to do, it is something that happens when it is ready to and it is more likely to happen as a result of us being grateful for what is rather than wanting to be ready before it is time. ‘Those in a hurry will be delayed’. Through Gratitude & Appreciation our level of presence and awareness increases, along with that our capacity to respond openly to what life brings rather than reacting defensively against it. When we find the integrity of being to be able to say a full yes to life we begin shifting into a much larger and more expanded paradigm of living, rather than reacting against what life brings and living out of a much poorer space. Would you rather live out of a shoe box or a countryside estate? Through practising Gratitude & Appreciation over time we can begin to find greater fulfilment in our lives and in our relationships.
Celebrating What Is
“I don’t think existence wants you to be serious. I have not seen a serious tree. I have not seen a serious bird. I have not seen a serious sunrise. I have not seen a serious starry night. It seems they are all laughing in their own ways, dancing in their own ways. We may not understand it, but there is a subtle feeling that the whole existence is a celebration. Celebration is without any cause. Celebration is simply because we are. We are made out of the stuff called celebration. That’s our natural state – to celebrate – as natural as it is for the trees to bloom, for birds to sing, for rivers to flow to the ocean. Celebration is a natural state”
As the frozen cold of winter starts to give way to gushing birdsong. We are born again into movement, energy and life. Trees celebrate their stillness in swishing and swaying, birds celebrate through singing, celebration is about doing what we naturally do with great joyfulness. Celebration is an uprising of self-hood, it is a state of oneness with everything as it is. All difficult feelings dissolve into it. Celebration is the act of letting go of the ego and coming totally into the joy of the present moment. First we learn to acknowledge and allow feelings, then we learn to honour them and give thanks and finally we celebrate them, no matter what they are and from where they are have come, we celebrate them and we celebrate ourselves because we are happening right now in this very moment! How miraculous this reality of being alive really is! Through the practice of celebrating what is we learn to not waste our energy fighting with life but instead we learn to welcome the surprises that come our way with lightness and ease, no matter how challenging they are. We learn to not take everything so seriously and approach dealing with the challenges that life brings us with greater lightness and welcome because we understand that these challenges are simply gifts waiting to be given birth through us. Rather than seeing life as a problem that needs to be solved, an injustice that needs to fought or a wrong that needs to be put right, we can see life as a gift that is asking to be realised and celebrated.