November 18, 2018

Trust Games

Last night, my youngest sister called me looking for a few new acting exercises to lead a group in a residential treatment facility. I was grateful that she called me. Grateful that the 9 years between us and any sisterly rivalry that may have cropped up over the years had disppated so that we were able to draw from each others expertise when needed. Since this smart sister of mine got her Ph.D. in psychology, she has often been my first call in the morning, so to be entrusted with the last call of her day felt especially good.

I first asked some questions: how well do the teens know each other, is this a one time group or a series, and is the group co-ed? We started tossing around some games that required eye to eye contact in order to instill a safe practice space, but these games often required touch. The residents here are forbidden to touch one another. While that rule felt appropriate, it also made me sad. Physical touch has always been an important gesture of assurance to me. In fact, it is often difficult for me to trust people who are reluctant to make physical contact with others.

I started relating it to my own “groups.” The eye contact I demand of my children, the physical contact I design when one of us walks into our home after being away. Though we see each other daily, ish, and have built up our circle of trust if you will, things happen that threaten to disrupt this circle daily. Within our friend circles too. Disagreements. False interpretations. Conjecture, speculation, gossip… Hurt feelings that lay in wait, pouring into the space without always adequate time to process them.

I guess that’s why I rely so often on touch. A simple touch on the arm can be enough to slow me down. To come back to basics, the basics of my breath and to look truly in the eyes of the other. For I do know this person. The story of the wrong-doing I may be telling myself is only one piece of the person in front of me. In a group, however, like the one my sister would be leading, they come together from varying degrees of healthy and harmful connections to trust. Their challenge is to live within this new group in order to create healthier patterns of trust from the ground up, and move forward in their individual lives. In the games we were considering, the physical contact could be eliminated while keeping the intention in tact. With touch being a such a potential trigger, it would likely have to remind off the table. Today, however, I am remembering the simple yet effective tool I learned last year at INSIGHT LA in Santa Monica. During a mediation in Loving Kindness, the actual instruction is to lay your own hand on yourself, either on your cheek or on your own heart. This small gesture, which often feels forced or silly at first, can become the nurturing needed to take that first step. Creating a circle of trust come from the belief that we are deeply ok, flawed and lovable all at the same time. I don’t mean loving yourself necessarily- that might be too tall an order for some of us whose hyper critical sense of self remains in charge. This gesture of loving touch is a deep and quick start toward so much more.

Maybe try it today. On or off your mat, as you work to continue your own personal practices while we are not meeting in the trusting circle we have created.

If you do want to continue your practices with a teacher, I suggest you check outOMKAR 108 YOGA. in Culver City. The main teacher, Jorgen, is wildly skilled and educated in Ashtanga yoga, but also creates a very adaptive space for practice. I know they offer deals for new comers, and have many different practice times.

I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you in AUGUST!

In peace and patience, and practice,