Review: Group Awareness from a Contemplative Perspective

This one day workshop took place at the Institute of Group Analysis on the 6th of July. The day had been designed to bring fields of mindfulness and group analysis together. The participants were a rich mix of group specialists and mindfulness teachers with varying years of experience in groups or in mindfulness practice. They worked in the group with good humour and inquisitiveness. The structure consisted of periods of silence and speech, body sensation and feeling tone as the objects of mindfulness.

The struggle to stay in awareness and not be distracted or be absorbed in thinking was articulated by the group. The power of the group to hold awareness was acknowledged. Periods of speech were enfolded in silence, silence which was not avoidant or reactive. Practice with speech then captured the passing stream of moment to moment sensation and feeling. Thus both silent and speech periods were experiences of group mindfulness practice.

Themes of application emerged during discussion periods. Of particular interest was the role of group awareness for clinical applications. The complexity of posture and the gaze prior to speaking was investigated, for example how shifts of mindfulness may occur as the eyes are opened, the head raised, and when eye contact is made. By proceeding slowly, each nuance that might trigger a loss of presence was appreciated. We could also sense how these potential losses are more radical in a clinical situation. There was a desire in some of the group to continue to explore group awareness from a contemplative perspective and for some others to enquire about trainings in group processes.