This is a spiel that I give when beginning work with a new group.
In this course there is one rule: feel free. To me this means three things:
- Feel free to be comfortable. Feel free to stretch, to sit comfortably, to stand, to use the bathroom. Feel free to make a phone call (outside). Feel free to sleep (outside).
- Feel free to be uncomfortable. Feel free to be confused, to be shy, to be ashamed, to forget, to be stumped. Feel free to be frustrated, even angry. Feel free to be ignorant, to be mixed up, to be off balance.
- Feel free also means to feel adhesion in Whitman's sense, to feel a personal or human connection to others. "Free" comes from the Sanskrit "priya", meaning "beloved" or "dearest one." So feel free also means to find the connections between us. To respect and be respected.
I have followed this with the Me/You game, in which people recognize each other as individuals in a context of collective play and switching leadership roles. "Feel free" can become part of the debriefing, since the combination of play, confusion, and basic recognition that you practice in the game is a good example of feeling free in the three senses.
Feel Free can also be the basis for an evaluation or check-in. I have used a radar chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_chart) with COMFORTABLE, UNCOMFORTABLE, and LOVED, as the three axes. The chart is drawn on big paper or a whyte board on which each participant marks his/her degree of comfort, discomfort and belovedness, connecting the dots to form a triangle.
(If you have more than eight people, you may want to use multiple charts so that each triangle can be seen. It's best to use various colors.)
The resulting chart gives the group a sense of how the group as a whole is feeling and how the feelings differ within the group. It is important for everyone in the room to be in the chart, including teachers, jokers, facilitators, what have you.
Interestingly, one can be comfortable (in the sense of relaxed, physically comfortable, accepted, having fun) and uncomfortable (nervous, shy, unsure, foolish, embarrassed, frustrated) at the same time. I experience this when I sing karaoke, for example, or in a good activist meeting.