Session design – Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium on Wed 14 May.
This session was designed with the action learning cycle in mind: starting with an experience followed by a theoretical framing.
Note: All sessions are designed according to the SNE STORI-model (What is STORI?)
SNE = Strategic Narrative Embodiment TM (What is SNE?)
S – Strategic intent
The strategic intent is set at the start and ‘parked’ outside the space to define it, but not drive it.
We are here to discover what improvisational mindfulness is like and to understand how it relates to contemporary forms of mindfulness
Each person set an individual intention for the session – what they want out of it. This intention is written down or tucked into a corner of the mind where it can be retrieved.
T – Transition
Exercise’s help transition from the mind only to include the body and heart, from individual thoughts to collective energy, from the past and future into the present.
Walking and shaking
As we walk and spread ourselves randomly in the space, shake out the imaginary grains of sand from your joints starting from the toe joints and moving gradually up the body to the jaw joint. Participants can imagine the sand making room for warm comfortable lubrication of the joints.
Participants are invited to become aware of each other and make contact using small nudges. Use any part of the body to exert a small amount of pressure as you gently nudge each other, leaning into the nudge for as long or short as you please and always making sure both partners are only going as far as is comfortable for both. (Contact improv style)
Find a partner, stand back to back and become aware of your breath. Breathe into your back so that your partner can pick up the rhythm of your breathing. At the same time concentrate on picking up your partner’s rhythm. Gradually find a collective rhythm so you breathe together.
Two pairs now come together. Again, stand so that you can become aware of one another’s’ breathing. Find a collective rhythm. You may begin to move in pulse with the rhythm with movements as big or small as you want to. Find a collective movement and rhythm.
O – Open experimentation
In this section we use longer form structures to deepen the experience. Here we use a structure from the SNE suite of techniques called ‘Moving story structure’
Moving story structure – Shortened version (complete instructions plus reflective worksheet available from firstname.lastname@example.org)
- One by one participants find a position that symbolises what they want (based on the intention set at the start of the session) . Add to the image one body at a time until everyone is part of the image. Breathe three times as a collective to set the position. AS you breathe imagine that your body is filled with soft cement as you breathe in and imagine how it sets as you breathe out. When you are finished, step out of the ‘statue’ you have created and turn back to look at it in your imagination.
- Urge participants to stay in each moment breathing deeply three times. Make sure they allow themselves to fully experience the position. When they leave the position, they must look back on it in their imagination. This helps with objectification and distancing. It means they gain insight into their inside.
- About the breathing: I like to facilitate each of the three breaths slightly differently:
Breath 1: Just breathe and imagine your body is filling with cement and it sets on the out breath.
Breathe 2: Imagine that the cement flows to the extremities of the body – toes, finger tips, crown…
Breathe 3: imagine that it flows to the centre of your heart, your bones your soul.
- Find a position that symbolises the obstacles you face when you try to achieve your objective. Again, do it one body at a time. Breathe three times to set the position. Again imagine it as cement setting and once again step out of the ‘statue’ and look back on it.
- Move through A and B a few times with complete awareness.
Note: Encourage participants to move with awareness and care. Let them move between the first two positions a few times aware of the other bodies and their influence on your story.
- Find a third position – one that embodies how you usually react when you come face to face with your obstacles. When in position C, breathe three times as before.
- While in this position notice what kinds of things you usually say to yourself here.
- Think about what this reaction costs you and how it might benefit you.
- Step out of the ‘statue’ and look back on it.
Note: Once they have decided on position C (Step 3), let them stay in the position and listen to what they may be saying to themselves about being here.
- Take up position B. Feel the discomfort and notice where your body feels stretched or uncomfortable. Move from B through C to A. Repeat the sequence B – C – A. Repeat with awareness and experiment.
- Note: This is the “Yes and…” moment: accepting our default responses as part of our story. You will now change the order of the positions. It no longer goes A – B – C, or even C – B – A. The “Yes and…” sequence is B – C – A. Let each participant find the impetus and the solution for the next step within the flow between B and C. Let them move and experiment a few times e.g. play with speed and weight, move like a clown, a child a length of silk – get suggestions from the participants.
- Finally, take up position B one last time. This time move through B, C and A, but do not stop at A, Move through A, allowing the body find the next logical place for it to settle into a final position D. What would you find beyond the fulfillment of your original intention? Find the answer in your body, not your mind.
R – Reflect
Allow people to make sense of the experience verbally in writing or conversation. Also help them distil moments of significance.
Reflect in pairs/groups (depending on time)
Share your experience with a friend. What did you learn about how you might get what you want? What did your body teach you about the journey to the fulfillment of your intention?
Using the slides in the presentation make sense of the experience by comparing improvisational mindfulness to contemporary mindfulness.
I – Integration
Participants imagine how they might use what they have discovered in their outside lives.
Give each participant a picture card from the Playing Mantis Picture card set. Participants are asked to explain to each other in pairs and then to the group how this card describes exactly the action steps they need to take to experiment with improvisational mindfulness in their own practice.
Free online course
To learn more about Strategic Narrative Embodiment TM, why not send me an email and I will sign you up for the free online component of the training course: Strategic Narrative Embodiment – Transformative facilitation for organisations. It is a university accredited short course.