The benefits that I have felt
It immediately feels like a risk to tell you about the benefits to me of going to Here and Now Groups. This is because I am worried that I am portraying myself as some kind of ‘sorted person’, and risk coming across as superior: ‘do as I do, and you will become enlightened, like me!’. Ugh!! Squirm squirm. The reality is that whilst I do feel great benefit from having been to these groups, I am still at it, both learning from and enjoying these ‘moments of real life’, with all their vagaries and variations of tone, twists and turns, joys and irritations, intensities and calms: I am still going through moments when I get embarrassed about something I said or thought, and going through the sometimes awkward or painful process of learning about myself.
Now I will tell you what I think I have got so far:
What this word means for me is being real, honest, or true, and it’s up to me whether I communicate any of my truth to others. So, there is no pressure on me to ‘tell everyone how I feel, all of the time’: that is not always the best course to take. But it’s great to have the choice, to know how I feel and to make a conscious choice about what to reveal. These groups give me a kind of training in authenticity, and in having control over what I let the world know about me. It’s a safe place to experiment with that, and not be punished if I get it wrong.
I go about my business each day, and sometimes in those mundane everyday moments – you know the kind… in the bus queue, at the checkout, putting the bins out – I remember to feel present, connected with myself and my environment. But so often, I forget to do it (feel present). My mind is distracted by some preoccupation, and I am thinking about the next moment rather than the present one. This can stop me feeling as alive as I know I can sometimes be. These groups remind me about enjoying and taking in my experience of myself in the Now, and… I end up feeling alive!
Getting in touch with myself…feeling ‘connected up’
If I am preoccupied with the shopping, the bloke over there, the rusty bike chain, I risk being out of touch with what I am. This is not a suggestion that we ignore the shopping or the bike chain, but these groups give me a training in proceeding though life and attending to these issues whilst remaining in touch with ME.
Getting in touch with others…connections
Well, I sometimes feel lonely. Do you? I forget to connect with others, or I don’t have the energy to do so. Or worse, I am not in contact with myself. Inevitably, these groups create connection between people. I have seen such connections happen right there in the group, and of course felt the connection I have had with other individuals. And then, I walk away from the group, but I don’t forget what happened. I feel valuable, and in my aloneness I don’t feel lonely… I am a contactable person, after all.
What will happen next? What am I supposed to do? Should I say something or remain silent? What does she/he think about me? These are questions that may go through my mind in these groups. To start with, this may seem scary, as we live is a world that has built into it a large degree of predictability. We almost have an expectation that we have a right to know what will happen next: the customer must be told what to expect. The problem is, life is not like that. It then becomes hard to sit with uncertainty. These groups give the opportunity to experience uncertainty without trying to pre-empt or second-guess it: we face it, instead.
The ability to wait
I remember reading in ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha’s stating his skills: ‘I can think, I can wait, I can fast’. At first I thought that these were ordinary skills, and surely anyone can do all these things. Now I realise that it’s not quite so simple. The arrival of the internet, google, smart phones, and amazon etc. pull us even further in the opposite direction. I have noticed in Here and Now Groups how impatient I can be, how I can’t stand waiting, and how I want to have something interesting right now, preferably delivered to me by someone else.
I now realise that it’s up to me to create life inside myself when outside of myself nothing is being brought to me. As the group has no predefined structure or task, it’s up to me to provide ‘authorship’ for my own experience, and I believe that to have a fulfilling life I must be the author of my life. This then helps me in being proactive rather than reactive.
Getting feedback from others
In my efforts to get something exciting right now, in any given moment, I have done things that were pretty provocative in these groups, and some people got irritated with me. I started getting feedback about this, which means people would tell me how they experience me, and what their own internal reaction was when I would do X or Y. This was really valuable! It’s not as though people gave me a hard time, though sometimes I felt hurt. Usually when people gave me feedback in this way, it’s a gift. Where else could I find out how I was going down with people?
The feedback hasn’t always been stuff that I found hard to hear. I would get very nice feedback that helped me feel valued, and that let me know about the ways in which I used to devalue myself. This could feel painful, but somehow it was ‘sweet pain’: it put its finger on something that was true but hidden, and so I felt great relief.
Really, this is the outcome of all the above. The feedback, the connection with myself, the authenticity etc. all start to let me feel that I know who I am. I don’t’ know what you make of the old maxim: ‘know thyself’, but I go for it: it’s definitely something I want.