Meeting notes: December 4, 2016 – “The Felt Sense of You in Community”
On December 4, 2016, thirty focusers participated in a conversation about community facilitated by Joan Lavender. As an introduction, Joan shared this quotation from a member of the focusing community.
“For the first time in my life I feel that I belong to a group of people whose way of being with themselves and others expands, rather than contracts, my best sense of myself.” From The Focusing Institute, on Felt Community
Joan began by telling us about her personal story of her experiences over the years in different kinds of community. These experiences led her to thinking about what community is and does.
“We need ‘communitas’ for a sense of belonging, especially in times of personal transition or upheaval. Community can hold us steady. In return for the security that community can offer, we must grapple with the delicate balance of individuality vs group needs. And, as a living being each community goes through its own change process, evolution or devolution, depending on whose perspective.”
Then Joan told us that the recent election transformed her philosophical musings into a desperate need for community. “Even though I have been through challenging times in communities, there was always a mostly unified group providing a place to stand. Now, in this national situation I can’t feel that. I don’t always know where I stand, I don’t know where anybody stands. Uncertainty. With it came a felt sense of the Challenger disaster.”
Joan began the evening’s experiential process by guiding us, too, toward focusing and finding our individual life journeys with community, without community, and with whatever came for us.
She next asked the participants to get a felt sense of “how you are here and now? What might be hard to say and yet important” People were to express what came and as they did, all were asked to listen from a felt sense and encouraged to to reflect what was said. The participants took this to heart and offered reflections readily. This contributed to a feeling of community despite some quite disparate statements.
Following is a selection of phrases and sentences from what was said:
"an inner weep, a group moan… nobody in charge of the world, no moral compass…
afraid of Nazis in the night…
It’s the first time I have a sense of belonging, feeling a sense of calling…. exciting… fueled by the grief…
no energy, out flat… a long cosmic scream… helplessness...
a dream… a feeling of being unprotected… Good vs I don’t want to say Evil…
Outnumbered… I chose to not vote…. a group left behind, like dragging a toddler…
The election result: an invitation to pause…
I’ve lived through Junta terror… After three days of mourning democracy with clients, now I feel more connected.
a waking up
a sense of personal sovereignty
a fish without water, fishbowl of friends
broken idea... broken ideals
What I believe in is unsafe. I would be banished or burnt at the stake.
I’m an Asian. You invaded us.
trauma in my body..
The focusing community is a facade. How can we embody our values?
Speak up from a higher level. This is not all there is. Pick up the pieces and make something different.
Neither candidate felt like they would help me. It’s an uncovering of what was really here. People will have to do something now.”
After people spoke, Joan stated what many people were observing, that we are not all the same. Yet, people reflected without arguing.
Lastly, Joan asked people what they were wanting and what a growing edge could be. Many people wanted connection, groups that did not fall apart as they had in the past, and wondered whether Metro Focusing could provide that.
A participant pointed out that groups naturally form around shared projects or purpose, or around like-mindedness. Perhaps what we need next is to form groups around the commitment to listen as we had been listening today. So that we can practice listening across difference, to be able to be with unlikemindedness, as well as likemindedness.
A participant said that it was important not to drift into good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. We not only do that with each other but it's easy to feel that if we say something that the other person doesn't like then we are bad.
At the close of the evening, many people expressed appreciation for the rich and complex experience they had in community and a need to develop something further.
Joan invited us to consider how we can find ways to listen across difference going forward.
Prepared by Susan Deisroth, Naomi Glicken, and Diana Kirigin