Possible Mutual Support Methods

Members of existing organizations -- such as activist organizations, human service agencies, book clubs, and other similar groups -- might use the following methods to support each other with their self-development, modifying them as they wish. Feel free to share these ideas with any organization that may want to use any of them. New groups, both informal and informal, might also form and use these methods, which may or may not be used within the framework of a commitment to advance holistic, systemic, global transformation.

  1. Open with Silence -- begin meetings with a moment of silence to allow time for members to meditate, pray, or reflect on the upcoming agenda.

  2. Intimate Check-ins -- at the outset of meetings, have members report briefly on their recent self-development effort(s).

  3. Issue Discussions -- convene or, with other groups, co-convene conversations on racial-justice or other key issues.

  4. Public Debates -- convene or co-convene college-style debates on "Resolved:..." resolutions, followed by small group decisions and report-backs on the issue.

  5. Public Workshops -- convene or co-convene public workshops to experiment with these methods.

  6. Shared Affirmations -- have your group endorse a statement of principles and values that encourages members to support each other in their self-development, such as "Change Myself, Change the World: A Commitment".

  7. One-on-one Interactions -- apart from official meetings, members:

    • Ask Questions -- and ask follow-up questions, not just one or two polite ones; talk less and listen more. Ask questions like: Why? Why not? How did you feel about that? What are you feeling? How might you achieve that goal? Can you tell me more? What’s been on your mind lately? What’s your passion? What’s the purpose of your life? Improve friendships by becoming a better listener.

    • Listening Dyads -- meet with a fellow member, agree on how much time you will have together, and divide the time equally. Then, first one of you, and then the other, reports on what has been happening in her or his life and what she or he has been thinking and feeling. Listeners interrupt only to ask a question to clarify something they did not understand. The person talking may use some of her or his time to ask for advice or information, or she or he may just report. Allow five minutes at the end of the exchanges to reflect on the experience and consider making plans for another.

    • Twenty Questions -- take turns with one or more fellow members asking twenty questions to know each other more fully. Answer the questions briefly, spontaneously, and honestly. Afterwards, take some time to reflect on the experience together.

  8. Informal Groups -- apart from official meetings, members who meet informally in small groups use the following methods to support each other with their self-development.

    • Spirit Conversations -- a member presents a poem, aphorism, song, essay or some other meaningful piece for discussion. The group meets regularly, perhaps monthly. It sets a time limit, such as one hour or ninety minutes. To assure rapport and trust, membership may be by invitation only, with the group deciding on invitations.

    • Soul Sessions -- members gather to “speak from the heart” confidentially. That’s it. No other agenda. The gatherings take place in a person’s home or at a community center. Before adjourning, they evaluate the session, consider inviting others, and decide together who if anyone will be invited. If the group grows to include several or more individuals, they may use a “talking stick” that involves speakers recognizing the next speaker by handing them an object.

  9. A Mutual Support Network -- develop a loose network of groups that encourage their members to support each other with their self-development and occasionally share information about their efforts, online and in person.

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