Hosting Study Groups
Part III – Holding the Space and Facilitating the Study Group
Preparing for the Global Group
Introductory Letter to Participants
Before your first meeting, contact everyone in your group via email and tell them the details of the meeting and purpose of the group, as well as a little about the chapter you’ll be covering. Encourage them to read the chapter and listen to the audio of Sat Shree’s revelations of the chapter before coming to the meeting.
It is best to listen or watch Sat Shree’s recordings on the Gita and/or The Mother Book, and/or read Sat Shree’s book The Bhagavad Gita Revealed, in advance of facilitating a Global Group. As you do so note the beginning and ending times of those segments that appeal to you or which you feel would be helpful to share with the group as a way of prompting discussion and self-reflection. These segments can be 5 to 15 minutes long.
Holding the Space and Facilitating the Study Group
Holding the Space
This section goes into detail on how to “Hold the Space” when conducting a Global Group. Holding space is how you create the vessel that can receive both the wisdom and transmission that comes from Sat Shree and his teachings.
Holding space means to be in a state of presence in which people can discover and expand their inner capacity to grow spiritually. Before you start speaking it is helpful to sit quietly, connecting with your inner being, simply breathing and feeling what is going on in your body. This in itself will create the space to allow whatever needs to arise, to arise.
Creating the Vessel
Sat Shree has written the following to help support the facilitators in creating and holding the vessel of the gathering. It may be useful to share this at the start of a new class, as well as when new people join:
“Both the Gita and the Mother Book are handbooks and spiritual scriptures. As such each carries their own unique wisdom which we can learn to bring into our lives. Both also have a tangible and distinct impact on our consciousness and our lives that work in unseen ways. This process can totally alter our relationship with our self and the way we connect with the Divine. It can be a time of great reflection, change, and vulnerability. Thus, we deeply honor our self and everyone’s unique process in the group. Everyone has their own journey, their own unique way to the Divine.”
The following guidelines will help us all get the greatest benefit from our study together:
- We bring as much Presence as possible to each moment in the group. We come with a willingness to see with new eyes and hear with new ears.
- We listen deeply as others are sharing, tuning in to the deepest meaning.
- We allow each person to travel their own unique journey, and thus accept our differences and let go of our personal positions that might create separation with another.
- We take responsibility for our reactions, our responses, and our experiences.
- We respect each person’s sharing by refraining from giving advice, knowing that each person is in their own process and their unique journey to the Divine.
- We speak from our own experience, our lived and felt experience that is immediate and real, and less from our mental concepts and opinions. We have over-thought things and have been way ahead of our hearts’ knowing and our bodies’ wisdom. Thus we speak from our own experience, our Truth.”
Once everyone is present and signed in, take a moment to look at each person individually in the room and say WELCOME or NAMASTE. This will bring everyone together with you and can be a powerful entry point.
Just prior to the room opening up for the discussion and sharing period there may be an awkward silence. This is where holding the space is required. During this time simply sit together in silence as a group as this allows the intent to build in the room. It is also where you establish your authority with the group. Notice what arises for you but do not be afraid of the silence. Sometimes several minutes may go by before someone is moved to speak. Once the discussion and sharing begins it may take off and be vibrant. Be sure that no one person dominates the discussion. If this does become a challenge you can set a time limit of 5-10 minutes for each person’s sharing if you feel that is needed. You are not “leading” the group, but you are facilitating what arises for people in the context of the purpose of the group.
After you welcome all and give an overview of the program, open with a meditation, describing it as a “silent sitting.” You can suggest that the participants focus on their breath or bring their awareness to their bodies and sit as quietly as possible. This should be between five and ten minutes.
For the first meeting, as well as when new people join, invite participants to share their names and what their intention is for being here. Go around the circle, passing the recorder from person to person.
Set the Intent
It is important to dwell a bit on the intent or purpose that the person is bringing to the room. Sat Shree uses the term “purpose” as the motivating principle that lives each of us if we know it or not. So when you ask people to speak to this you can both get a sense of the person but also move the room into alignment with the intention of the gathering.
Let people know that although the recordings of the Global Groups will be confidential, they will be listened by Sat Shree, the Global Group mentor, and at times by others for training purposes within New Dharma.
Introduction to Sat Shree
At the first group meeting, as well as when new people join, it is helpful to share your own experience of working with Sat Shree. Direct people to the New Dharma website if they want more information.
Go over the Guidelines
These honor the purpose of the program and help establish the ground rules asked of all who participate:
- We honor what each person has to share, therefore there is no interrupting a person’s share or crosstalk. One person speaks at a time.
- We speak from our own experience or understanding, thus there is no arguing, debating or feedback on another person’s sharing.
- It is fine to share what comes up for you after a person share. However, the sharing should be limited to your own experience.
- Allow a period of silence after each person shares. This honors their sharing and allows you to find a match of what they shared in your own body.
- The facilitator may ask questions of the person sharing to clarify or support the person.
- Everything that is shared in the group is confidential.
Overview of the Chapter
At the beginning of the sharing on the particular chapter of the Gita, The Mother Book or The Bhagavad Gita Revealed, it is helpful for you to give an overview that includes its main points. You may also share your personal experience in regard to the chapter. For example, in Chapter 1 of the Gita you could talk about your own experience of dejection.
Listening to Sat Shree’s Commentary / Playing a clip or the entire audio
At first we recommend you play a 15 or 20 minute segment and then ask for responses from the group. We believe a portion of 15 or 20 minutes in length helps the participants to become familiar with the material. When the group is more familiar with the book and material, you can play shorter clips.
Sharing after Listening to Sat Shree’s Commentary
After the group has listened to Sat Shree’s commentary on a part of the chapter, there are a number of ways to open the space for sharing.
- Share your experience with the section just listened to.
- Ask people what the recording and chapter brought up in them, or what they resonated with.
NOTE: Please speak from your own experience, what is true for you. You can also bring the parts from the Guidelines into the space at this point, especially if your group is new.
Ending the Sharing Period
At the very end of the discussion and sharing, say something like: Does anyone have any ending comments before we have our closing?
This allows for a natural conclusion to the discussion.
Ending with Silence and Stillness
To end the time together have a 5-10 minute period of sitting in silence and stillness. This allows all that has been shared to settle in.
After the sitting you may want to have an informal period where people can ask questions or share. You can provide drinks or snacks if you wish for anyone who might want to stay after. This helps build group cohesion and can support people in staying engaged with the Global Group.