The format/concept behind this 'class' is kind of like a book club but instead of delving into the depths of the characters or writing style, you are connecting with your own story and your own character. Our group takes ideas from spiritual leaders, writers and experts. We will sometimes watch video clips of interviews or TED talks to stimulate the discussions and often it is centred around one theme each class- for example :EGO or FEAR or VULNERABILITY. I encourage the group to bring a notebook to write down their thoughts about the topic or to share some of the insights with their loved ones. It is expected that all personal sharing stays within the group and that is one reason why we practice "holding space" for each other in each class. This somewhat daunting task is also called "co-listening". It is an opportunity for each member to 'check-in' with the group by sharing what is on their mind without any judgement or anyone trying to fix what is happening or to try to relate to the experience. It is simply a chance to let this person share/feel and express- no one needs to respond/nod, agree or interrupt. It is a practice in listening (and most of us women weren't very good at it because we want to take away pain/discomfort/etc). It was a challenge for us to feel comfortable enough to do but slowly over time it has become a very valuable tool for each of us in creating a space where we can be ourselves and get rid of some of that 'stuff' that gets carried around. I recommend introducing this communication tool/exercise after a few sessions have been established and to keep it a regular thing at the beginning of each class. The sharing can be limited to time (ex. 2 minutes per person) or just a 'go with the flow'. I lead the co-listening and thank each person for sharing to close the experience and once the sharing is complete, we move onto our theme. Sometimes the theme doesn't end up being the actual discussion, which is neat- it feeds into another cool world of discussion. As the 'moderator', I try to include each individual in the topic if one or two people tend to be "hogging the microphone". (lol This is our funny way of asking others to share the spotlight- we DO NOT use a microphone) Topics and some of our resources and links are listed here:
What I will personally say about my experience, after 2.5 years, is that I have learned as much about myself through these 'experts' as I have through my fellow spirit lifters. Each person brings a unique perspective and story. I am a more well-rounded and compassionate person after hearing and sharing with this group of women. In fact, this group has 'shared the love' with the community by reaching out to our neighbours in need and donating hours of time to our City's vulnerable populations including homeless youth, children in palliative care and our local Women's Shelter. It might have been easier to start a group or 'class' with the focus on helping people in our community but I believe in more than that. Our 'book club' is a group that works on their own character development, works with their villains and sees that the good guy was there all along.