This page gives you access to information to help set up a support group, starting with a set of suggested, exercises and meditations you can share with the group.


Discussions Topics

Take a topic and use it as a basis of discussion i.e.

• Family of origin
• Legal rights
• What helps? Positive solutions to difficult situations
• Positively building trust
• Destructive patterns
• Disclosure of the abuser
• Good therapy techniques

You might also take an emotion and use it as a basis of discussion, such as:
Shame, guilt, fear, anger, rage, hate, jealousy, love, joy, bliss, calmness, harmony, contentment, etc…

Suggestions of Things to Share

Part of building a group is celebrating together and acknowledging each other's successes.  It is important to have meetings like this if you have spent quite a few previous meetings discussing difficult topics or sharing painful emotions.  Give yourselves time out to celebrate each other and have fun together.  Sharing laughter is a great healer, just be aware to involve everyone in the group in a positive way.  This is a list of traditions you can create within the group to have fun and share laughter.
 
• Bring healthy food to share
• Bring gifts or make gifts within the group and use them as the basis of the gift meditation
• Celebrate birthdays
• Celebrate personal growth
• Bring relaxation meditation downloads for the group to listen to
• Practise some form of healing touch together such as massage, foot rub, or aromatherapy
• Bring books, magazine and other resources related to healing and personal growth to share
• Try some singing and chanting or bring a selection of percussion instruments for you all to play together
• Book a night out at a bowling alley or a dance workshop.  Chose a date when everyone can go and enjoy having fun together
• Create an event where you help those who are in need.  Helping others is a great way of helping you connect with your heart and compassion.

Lemon tree

 Photograph by Jennifer Weston © 

Meditations and Exercises to Do in Pairs

Pair work is literally about working in pairs.  This means if you cannot do the meditation you support the other person or another pair.  This has  double benefits;  firstly not dwelling of any feelings of failure or inadequacy, and secondly by focusing on giving your unconditional support generously to the other person.  The meditations and techniques are as much about giving to yourself as they are about giving to the other person. 
You may find it hard to relax with someone else next to you if you were sexually, physically or emotionally abused as a child.  If you do find it difficult to relax with someone else these meditations and exercises may well bring up strong feelings for you.  You may feel like distancing yourself, making excuses for doing them, feel scared or shy.  If this happens it will help if you voice your feeling to your partner and group.  It is fine to state your boundaries within the group and probably very empowering for you if you were physically or sexually invaded as a child.  Having said this it may also be useful for you to develop some trust with someone and after a while try the meditation again.  Facing your fear of contact and moving through it can also be very empowering.

Here are a few suggestions of pair work to get you started:

Connection

This is a good exercise to do if you are feeling lonely, isolated or disconnected.  Stand or sit opposite a partner.  Relax as much as you can and look at each other for a while.  Notice how the other person appears to be.  If they look tense around the neck or shoulders encourage each other to relax.  Focus your breath coming into your chest, and out down your arms and hands.  When you are ready hold hands and imagine your breath going out of your right hand and coming in through the left hand.  Allow the energy to flow between you and really let yourself feel that connection.  Notice how this is for you and share with the other person how this is.  This exercise could be done at the beginning of every group to help the support group get established.

Grounding in Pairs

Stand back-to-back swaying and shifting your weight until you can both balance well.  Notice your posture and relax your neck and shoulders, unlock your knees and bend them slightly.  Now imagine an invisible cord that runs from the top of your head down through your spine and sacrum.  This cord holds your body upright but relaxed.  You should be standing straight, but not rigid and be mindful and supportive of the other person.  Acknowledge each and give yourselves the time to close your eyes and go inward.  Bring your attention down into your feet and imagine big thick tree like roots growing down into the ground.  As you deepen into the experience you can gently tell each other what you are feeling, encouraging each other to ground more so you both feel immovable.
 
If you have trouble grounding during this exercise try not to distract the other person but generously let them feel supported by your body and your verbal encouragement. 
You can also try this exercise facing each other holding hands, or hugging each other.  This could also be done in a group hug situation, or around a group member who finds grounding difficult.

Tuscan mountains

 Photograph by Jennifer Weston © 

Buddy System

The support group may decide that if a member goes into crisis then there is a buddy system in place.  This could be structured as follows:

• The person who lives the nearest goes over to support the person
• The person who has free time goes over to support the person
• The person who is emotionally closest to the person goes over

There are problems with all these approaches; as the nearest person
 might not be free, the person with the freest schedule might end up doing all the call outs and the person who is closest might get very upset at her friend's distress.
It maybe that if the task of looking after member falls on one or two individuals and unless their needs are being met too they may become resentful and leave.

If one person is consistently going into crisis then this needs to be addressed by the group as a whole with the person present.  Positive solutions can be discussed but the person's therapist or doctor also needs to be involved.  Perhaps the person needs short or long term medication or treatment that the support group does not have the professional expertise to provide.  Ideally everyone in the group looks after everyone else.  But in some extreme cases this may not be possible.  The group may not have the resources or expertise to be on suicide watch for long periods of time.  In which case a positive course of action needs to be discussed.  This maybe one of the ground rules you chose to have.

 Asking for Help

For some people asking for help is difficult.  This exercise is designed to help create a better balance in the group between the people who regularly ask for help and the people who don't.
In pairs discuss how you feel about asking for help.  The following questions can act as a prompt to get you started:

• Why you like asking for help?
• Why don't you don't like asking for help? 
• Could you ask for help from your family as a child? 
• Did you get help if you asked for it? 
• What kind of help did you get? 
• Who did you get it from? 
• Was there a payback for that help? 
• What was it? 
• Who do you get help from now?
• Do you feel you have the help you need now?
• Is there anything you would like the group to help you with?

Write down the key points of the answers for each other as this can then aid your healing journey.  Feed this back to the group so you are all aware if anyone has any deeper issues about asking for help.  The group can then decide ways to offer support.
 
Throwing Out the Old

In the group discuss the things you want out of your life.  This can be old feelings, beliefs, or ways of thinking that are no longer useful.   Or  they can be tangible things like outgrown relationships, difficult people, or places that you no longer want to go back to.  Bring to the group objects that are symbolic of these issues and things.  Perhaps a photo, or a letter, a stone or pebble or just words written on a piece of paper also bring to the group something that represents the new feelings you want to create in your life.  This could be more love, self-cherishing, kindness, contentment, bliss, joy etc...

Take in turns to share with the group your feeling about the objects you have brought.  The objects that symbolise things you want out of your life can be burnt or buried as part of the group experience.  The objects that represent what you want to bring into your life can be energised by the group.  If they are jewellery or pebbles they can be cleansed first by placing in water in a sunny place  Energising the items can be done in a number of ways. 
The objects can be passed around each group member in turn whilst the group has a whole states over and over what each person wants.
The objects can be placed in the centre of the group as the group members hold hands, closes their eyes and recreate in themselves the feeling they want to have more of.  These feelings can be passed round the group through holding hands passing from right to left.  Once the feeling have been passed on each object can be handled with love by each member of the group  make sure everyone in the group has touched each object before handing it back.
This exercise can be done by gifting objects from group members to group members.  These can be symbolic items of jewellery to be worn or crystals that can be kept in a pocket or handbag.  This can be done in an organised way much like a Secret Santa would be organised but with the emphasis on giving each group member an object that symbolises their heart's desire.

What Makes You Happy?

Relax fully using the heart chakra guided meditation download.  Remain tuned into your heart and remember the times when you were happy doing something for yourself.  In your mind's eye imagine doing what makes you happy.  Let yourself bathe in these happy memories for a while.  When you have finished thinking of them write them down in your diary or discuss in your support group.  Think about what you can do to make yourself happy today.  Try and incorporate some of the things that make you happy into the work you do in your support group.

. Snapdragon flowers

 Photograph by Jennifer Weston © 

To book therapy sessions contact: hmeditations@googlemail.com