In everyday life by and large we expect each other to present a ‘social face’. How we do this is shaped by childhood experience, and how not to do this is largely forgotten. We long to let go of all the bodily and mental contractions that hold the character mask in place and we relish situations where we can let the guard down. But success in letting go and feeling open-hearted is often quite accidental or tied to very specific situations (being in love, dance, alcohol, friday after work, a bodywork session…).
A group provides the frame in which all group members can agree to share the discipline of examining what happens when we allow the mask to drop. By trying it out gradually you find in yourself the means to expand and connect and to live with a more open heart.
There is ample help: Music, movement and breathing create a wave of energy that begins to wash through everyone, allowing the spontaneous expression of the body to take over. Sometimes the expression the body produces at first is a reflection of whatever experience caused the contraction in the first place. Then it can look, sound and also feel like anger, horror, envy and such like come forward; this needs to be welcomed and safely held but it is only a passing stage in the process.
When all in the group give their good intent and a high level of energy and openness is present, we can work with this vitalized state. There may be inward journeys to luxuriate in the feeling connection to the own body, or outward directed group sessions or paired work. There are many forms for this; just meeting each other’s gaze or joining voices into a single vibration that lifts the roof may be as powerful an experience as any.
‘Streaming Theatre’ stretches all the way from simply standing on stage, feeling the attention of the others directed towards oneself, to improvisations and whole plays, truly feeling what you embody.
Then there are rounds where it is right to talk, not ‘from the head’ but with a feeling connection to what you say and hear, whether that is speaking of your experience or sorting out a conflict.
The group provides a space where you can realise through trying it out that a sense of deep wellbeing and feeling connection to the world is possible. Ultimately it takes no more than a deep breath to get there.