“Who will be a witness?”

• Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Invariably when I ask a longtime InterPlayer what part of InterPlay they value most, they say, “witnessing and being witnessed”.   In InterPlay many of our forms involve having a partner whose “job” is to simply be present with you with an attitude of respect and positive regard as you tell a story or do a dance or sing a song.  They offer feedback about how your expression moved them or what they can affirm.  Sometimes the whole gathered group is the witness.  And other times the participant is invited to be their own witness.  Witnessing is a foundational principle of InterPlay.

What is the gift in being “witnessed”? Often people report that they never felt really “seen” as children.  Their parents didn’t know how or had too little time to offer them important gift of presence.  Sometimes “being seen” is challenging for people because as children the only time they were noticed was when they were being criticized or reprimanded.  When I first started to InterPlay I was really frightened by the idea of someone witnessing me as I danced or sang or told a story.   But as I’ve gradually grown into enjoying having a witness, I’ve noticed that a witness has allowed me to have my full expression in ways that I would never attempt if I were alone.  Being witnessed also helps me know and express my deep inner truth.  Sometimes my witness reflects back to me things I didn’t notice or confirms the wisdom my body is expressing.  A witness provides a container when the challenges of life seem overwhelming.  Creating a dance or story out of the challenges gives them a beginning, middle, and sometimes most importantly reminds me that there will be an “end”!  Having a witness helps me feel less alone on the planet.

Being a witness to the stories or dances of others is also a gift.  I always feel like I am on “holy ground” when I see someone share their heart through movement or word.  I may be moved by their courage and struggle or by their creativity, joy, and beauty.  I notice that I can honor all of life’s journeys and get the opportunity to participate in their journey for those few minutes while I am witnessing.  My heart opens as I see these “snapshots” into of the lives of others, and I am able to cry or smile or celebrate with them. I’m always happy to have the opportunity to say, “I’ll be a witness!”

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