Weekly blogs as food for body, mind and spirit.
by Journey Agent, Isisara Bey
There is a wonderful theater game I love to play when I am leading workshops, retreats and conferences, and even at large gatherings in my home. It’s called Stand If and its very simple and powerful. I read off a list of statements. If the statement applies to you, you simply stand for a moment, look around to see who else is standing for that same statement, and then sit down again.
The statements vary from ones that most people can stand for, like “stand if you are a high school graduate, if you were born in the U.S., or if you have or had a pet.” They also get more serious and personal, asking people to stand if they have buried a spouse, or have ever been homeless.
It requires that there be a measure of safety in the room, that a “container” or feeling space be created that is judgment free, so that people feel secure enough to stand for even the most revealing statements. What is most remarkable is how easy it is to create that sense of intimacy, and how much fun and satisfying the game can be.
After the last statement is read, I always ask the audience why they think we played the game. The first answer I usually hear is so we can see how alike we are, and when we think we are alone in our troubles, we can know there are many others who are also struggling. It’s also a way to practice opening our minds beyond our own cultural mores, and remembering that lifestyles can vary according to country, ethnicity and religious practice, but those ways of living are equally as valid as our own.
But the reason that is the most profound to me is that people want and need to be seen for who they are, in all their life experiences. People stand for the most devastating things, and they do so with valor. They stand because no matter how much it hurt, or how challenged they may have been, they have survived and endured.
To be seen is to be witnessed. The definition of “witness” is to give evidence after seeing or hearing something; it is a public statement attesting to ones strong personal beliefs. In Stand If, being a witness and being witnessed is that public statement of respect and strength. It is giving evidence that we are here, that we have walked through life on this planet, that we matter.
And so I ask, have you been a witness to those in your life who need your observance in order to feel acknowledged? Not your judgment, or your advice, but your loving gaze, your high regard. And do you allow others to be a witness to you?
We need others to behold us in our troubles and in our triumphs. We need to open our very souls in the presence of others and be seen and known for who are truly, deeply are. We stand because no matter what life has presented to us, we have survived. We are still standing, still here, and we desire to, we deserve to be honored for that fact.
Stay tuned to the Slow Chew series by Journey Agent, Isisara Bey every Wednesday! Leave a comment on your thoughts on being proud for surviving what life has thrown at us.