Tag-Archive for ◊ witness ◊

Confessions of a Recovering Serious Person

• Friday, September 02nd, 2011

Lindsey Gregerson, a participant in the InterPlay Next Gen Leaders: Art for Social Change program from the Seattle area wrote this article about her experience this summer in Oakland.

Recovering Serious Person

“To stress and seriousness I say WHEEEEEE! As a recovering serious person, I have known and practiced good self-care. You almost have to in order to survive your serious life. I love a good bubble bath, supportive conversations, some yoga and meditation.  It’s all good stuff, but for me these things are mostly just antidotes for the underlying problem – too much seriousness and an overactive focuser.

And then I discovered the InterPlay cure – a playful way of life. InterPlay has a way of helping you tap into your creative playful spirit, shed old body grooves (ways of being), and connect with others in new and different ways using movement, storytelling, voice, contact, and stillness. This powerful cure is leading me to less agenda and more freedom to be with the beauty of the moment.

This was all a recent discovery for me while spending two incredible weeks with young artists and activists learning about InterPlay in the context of a larger discussion around using art for social change.  This program was called Next Gen Leaders: Art for Social Change, led by InterPlay co-founders Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, and the vibrant young InterPlay leader Amy Shoemaker.

When you are serious a lot of the time, you tend to take yourself a little too seriously.  And don’t get me wrong, there are things in this world worth taking seriously that need our full attention and loads of collective energy; but my chronic seriousness and perpetual abundant work load is not just about transforming the world for good. For me it is also about trying to create a life of certainty and predictability and finding too much of my value in my achievements. With enough planning, careful calculation, and hard work, life will go as planned, right…?

And then I met improvisation. Spontaneous expression is part enthralling, part terrifying. It makes me feel vulnerable, but teaches me to trust and appreciate myself and whatever comes out. InterPlay provides a safe space just to try some stuff with no guarantees of it being any good, but without any value system by which to judge it. It gives me the courage to be imperfect and just to be who I am. To play, dance, sing, talk and create in the presence of a witness or a group of witnesses doesn’t have to be frightening. For it is openness to vulnerability that births the beauty of love, belonging, creativity, joy, and deep relationship. And to feel vulnerable means that I am alive.”

“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!”