In this exercise, we are bringing a concept to life through our imaginal and felt sense of it. Rather than taking the words conceptually and assuming we know what they mean to us, are opening an explorative investigation into the images, associations, energies and embodied feelings that they bring up in us.
This is an embodied practice that involves connecting with every aspect of our beings and each other. It can be deeply revealing, insightful, transformative and fun.
One of the important parts is that we are making space for things that are sometimes uncomfortable to emerge. By consciously bringing them up in a safe and connected space, it can change our relationship with them.
There is an example of the exercise in action at the bottom of the page.
This exercise works in small groups of 2 – 3 people. Before people are split into groups, bring everyone together.
It’s important for this exercise that people feel safe, welcome and empowered to speak their own truth in a way that doesn’t feel too vulnerable for them.
If you have time, allow each person to introduce themselves. Then someone invites people to close their eyes and guides everyone through this mini introduction:
“We share this practice together for the benefit of ourselves and each other.
As we enter the shared imaginal space, we can imagine arriving at a bonfire and gathering around it together.
We are entering a different realm, where we have more space to show up with the whole of ourselves. In this world there is no such thing as sin or getting it wrong. You are invited to step into experience, take up your space and embrace every aspect of yourself.
We commit to holding the space together, to create a strong and welcoming container that can handle the full force of our joy, sadness, strength and vulnerability.
When it is your turn to share in the practice you can imagine that you are bringing a piece of wood to add to the fire. Take time to consider what feels safe for you to share and what feels meaningful for you to share.
There is no pressure. It can go as fast or as slow as it needs.
May we be present to the process of our inner worlds emerging. May we connect more deeply with ourselves and each other. May we enjoy gathering around this fire.”
Split the group into smaller groups; it can be done in pairs or threes. There are three roles:
- Witness (optional)
In groups of three, rotate around the roles so that you each have a chance to try each role.
Steps of the Exercise
Each round of the exercise will last 15 minutes.
- Assign roles – one person as speaker, one as question-asker, one as witness.
- The speaker chooses a concept from the list below that they would like to imagine
- The practice is started by everyone closing their eyes. The question-asker guides people to take some deep breaths and arrive in experience. If anyone prefers to open their eyes at any point that is welcome.
- The question-asker asks the speaker questions about their concept and experience. They can use questions from the list below or follow their own style of guiding and curiosity.
- Remember that the speaker can’t get it wrong – they can share whatever is in their experience. They can also go at whatever pace feels comfortable to them.
- At the end of the 15 minutes, the question-asker lets everyone know and gives people a bit of time to come back to the room.
- Thank each other and share any reflections you have.
- Swap roles and start the exercise again.
List of Concepts
The speaker chooses one concept that they would like to explore. They can come up with their own concept or pick one from this list:
- Practice for the benefit of all beings
- Pressure to succeed
- Coming home
- The spiritual path
- The centre of being
- Objective reality
- Subjective experience
- An ocean of uncertainty
- The present moment
- Letting go
- Flowing with life
- Feeling supported
- Being brave
- Feeling seen
List of Questions
The question-asker asks questions that helps the speaker explore their concept and experience. They can trust the process; whatever needs to emerge will arise and holding space for it and seeing it is enough.
You can ask questions from the list below. You can also rephrase the questions or follow your curiosity and ask your own questions.
- We can start by closing our eyes, arriving in the moment and taking a couple of slow breaths.
- Can you repeat the concept you have chosen out loud?
- Where do you feel it resonating in the body?
- What emotions does it bring up?
- Does it have a colour? Or a shape?
- Can you see an image of it? What is in the image?
- Is it moving or is it still?
- Do you feel like you are in the image? Would you like to be in the image?
- What does it mean to you personally?
- Would you like anything to happen in this image, energy or felt-sense? Or does it feel like seeing it is enough?
- Is there anything you need?
- Have the emotions changed?
- Is there anything you’d like to share with your past selves from this place? Is there anything you’d like to share with your future self?
- Is there anything else that feels important or that you would like to recognise?
Some key things to remember:
- The speaker can’t get it wrong
- There is no rush or pressure for either the question-asker or the speaker to respond
- Hold a space of compassionate presence, openness and curiosity for the speaker
- If something feels emotionally loaded or charged in some way, feel free to take some time to sit in silence, breathe into it and come back to a sense of safety
- Trust that the process of things emerging and being seen is enough – nothing needs to be fixed or changed