Sharing some of the principles in our Barefoot Beach Babies course, I am sharing some more insight into what makes groups connect with flow and ease. It is also very useful to do your own self-reflective practice to see what resonates with you.
Insight on Optimum Group Size
This is taken from the Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
A group of 6 – A group of six is seen to be conducive to creating intimacy and connection. Smaller group sizes don’t allow as much diversity in terms of viewpoints but are seen to create a safe space for people to open up, share and contribute.
A group of 12 – This group size can also build trust and intimacy but is not too overwhelming for you to facilitate as a Guide. Any more people you may lose connection to the group. Bigger group size allows for a greater level of diversity and more opinions to be shared.
Taking on authority in your group
In BBB classes we stand together in a circle. However, as you have called the gathering there is a need for you to have some authority.
The three main reasons for this are;
- To protect your clients
- To equalise your clients
- To connect your clients
Sharing the structure of the class will make parents feel at ease as they can trust that you are leading and they can relax into a “receive mode” guided by you and the group. Creating the opportunity for introductions is very important for you to lead connections to be made. Humans thrive in environments where there is both compassion and order.
There is a suggestion that 90% of what makes successful gatherings happens before they occur in the connection and communication. When a parent comes to a class we can already make them feel like they belong to the community. There are lots of ways to do this;
- Create a Facebook group for those attending the course.
- Send Spotify playlists.
- Send a lovely postcard in the post.
- Send a PDF journal before the session.
- Ask them to bring something to the session that is special to them to share with everyone.
- Ask them to share an intention with you.
- Ask them to bring something to share with you.
Opening Ideas – I see you
Being seen and heard in a group can really create a connection and communicates that everyone is equally valued.There are a number of ways to do this;
Call and response
Each person says “Hi I am xxxxxxx”
The group responses “Welcome xxxxx”
You then go around the circle and do the same for the babies so each parent and baby is honoured as an individual.
When each person shares you pass a talking stick or a crystal, shell, or rock for them to hold when it is their turn to speak.
Endings – There will be an end
It is important to manage the end of a gathering of a group as much as it is to create the flow and energy at the beginning. Relationships will have been created, experiences shared and deeper bonds will be beginning to form. In order to encourage connection to continue at the end of gatherings, especially one-day retreats or longer sessions and courses, we can ask reflective questions of the group so that the experience that has been shared has more value and purpose;
- What does it mean to return home from this experience?
- How are you feeling now?
- Is anything making you anxious?
- What are you feeling excited about?
- What might come up for you now the gathering is closing?
These questions can be asked to the group as a whole or they could be used as journal prompts.
A lovely ending exercise is to use a woven thread to link your parent’s wrists together so even though they are apart they have a reminder of that bond (see Tree Babies for how to do this). You can also ask parents to write a small promise or intention on a piece of paper and tie that into the bracelet as a reminder for a few days of their connection to the group.
Another nice ending to a gathering or a retreat is to ask the group to write a self-addressed postcard to their future selves which you can post back to them in a year’s time.
Giving a meaningful parting gift can also be a lovely idea as a reminder of the gatherings. Perhaps a shell or rock from the beach.
End with a thank you
It’s tempting for the last words that you say at the end of a gathering or retreat to be the practical ones like “make sure you take any rubbish with you” “hope the car parking hasn’t run out” This can make a jarring return to reality.
To take a moment to say thank you is very powerful. To stand and say thank you to each parent and baby by name and for bringing something wonderful to the class.
For example,” Thank you for being part of this gathering Gayle and Emily and for bringing your smile” or ”Thank you for being part of this gathering Jo and Matilda and for helping others”
Reading a poem is also a powerful way to end the session.
Often in yoga classes, there is a closing greeting such as Namaste. This can be a peaceful way to end the session or you might like to have another phrase specific to the class that you share. A simple mantra that is easy to remember and recite.
You can also have a clear ending whereby you say
“I now bring this gathering to a…”
Then use a sound such as a drum, clap or bell
Then the group feels released from the group energy and free to take their own experience with them.
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