Come to your senses: a sense of self

Tara shares a link to her person blogpost on tuning into a sense of self and belonging, as well as a brief update.

Reposting something I wrote for my personal blog Starakin as Meryna’s essence is touched on when talking about tuning into and developing a stronger sense of self and belonging, particularly in relation to migrant communities in London.

The Meryna team, including myself, are all busy doing exciting (and not so exciting) life stuff, somehow related to communities, the arts, therapy and/ or education, and slowly carving out Meryna specific time. I’ve had wonderful offers of help, as people want to be involved, and to everyone, I say ‘thank you’ and I ask that you bear with us, as we steady our feet on the ground, before launching into the next initiative…

Meanwhile, the Migreat event, mentioned in the last blogpost was a wonderful experience, both the panel discussion and the taster workshop afterwards, with encouraging feedback from participants and the event organisers alike. I was very moved to have such wide ranging participants, from the Middle East, UK and beyond, who largely had not done this sort of experiential exploration before. And I was delighted to have Sara join in, as participant with a valuable inside/outside eye. We did a brief warm-up exercise, some short stream-of-consciousness writing, simple grounding in-between and took time to process our experiences together. Familiar themes home- what constitutes home? how do I know I belong somewhere? how much do I integrate into a new culture, without losing my sense of who I am?

For my part, I noticed my role as group facilitator meandered between Gestalt-style therapist, e.g., sometimes including my own here-and-now experiences (judicious self-disclose), as well as performer, particularly drawing on two MC-esque roles; the Joker from Forum Theatre and the Conductor from Playback Theatre. This is particularly important, as Meryna’s community work is not therapy but therapeutic, so this work is not treatment but personal and group development or ‘community building’. So developing a style of facilitation that can create a safe space to share, as well as maintaining a sense of joy in how we work together.

Talking therapies especially, I believe, can often miss the play and joy of personal and group process. We don’t sit to dig in and in, opening ‘a can of worms’, as the fear of therapy commonly seems to be, in an individualised and exclusive way. This isn’t just about me, the participant, it’s about me in the group. So noticing how I am, what I do, and together we look at how this may impact life out there. The workshop does not exist in a bubble, so what I do in this space can say a lot about what I do outside. We play, share bits of what’s that like to do (our experience in the here-and-now), sometimes releasing tears and sometimes laughter, and in the end, it’s about being open and true to ourselves within a group. We take this learning as food for growth towards resilience, and as the group is working together, as a community might, we are ultimately exploring how to build resilient communities. I don’t have the answers, and I know this work is not easy, though I promise, the challenge can also be fun.