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Keys to Creating Structures for Flow.

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

GRACE PRINCIPLE SIX: gracefully including everyone in connection experiences.

KEY PRACTICES: partnering, co-creation, timing, intentions and check-ins.

When working with groups or gatherings of people of any number, there will be people who love structure (an external control of what is going to happen) and people who love flow (an unconstrained state that encourages freedom of expression).

How do we guide people into connection activities in a graceful (comfortable, relaxed, balanced, focused presence) way?

Telling 30 people in a room to get into groups of five, without any guidance (structure) for how to do this, for example, will cause a lot of unseen stress, and yes, even trauma, for some people in the group. Those sensitive to rejection because of past experiences will struggle. Those whose dominant characteristics are outgoing and carefree will handle it more easily.

Structure in this example might look like having everyone number off 1 to 6, and then having the five 1's form a group, etc. This simple process eliminates the stress of choosing, when choosing or being chosen is hard for some people. Having creative structured ways for getting people into partnerships or groups is a key to giving grace to all participants.

But wait, I hear you say, what if find myself with someone that I don't feel safe with? Well, there would also hopefully be structures in place to solve this. And it could also generate a deeper discussion of other ways grace could show up in that situation.

It is probably wise to pause here and note that Creating Structures for Flow is a fertile playground for the earlier practice of "thanking the no" (in response to anything that is suggested or asked of you). Any activity that calls for personal connection with others, especially involving touch, is likely to create multiple opportunities to say, "thank you for taking care of yourself" and continuing to co-create together.

Once people are paired or in groups, then next key for structured flow is this spirit of co-creation, employing open negotiation and gratitude. Every participant must be given the opportunity to make requests to alter the setting, the timing, the intentions, what happens afterwards, etc, so their comforts and boundaries are met. And they need the freedom to make requests for change (co-create) in the midst of the activity as well.

The spirit of co-creation, with requests and gratitude, is a graceful way to approach and trustingly engage in touch activities.

Another critical key for the graceful flow of touch to take place is to give it a time frame. That is, how long are we going to engage in this activity? Without a time frame, endings often lack grace and instead cause stress for some of us. Disengaging from touch without timing guidance is inviting parts of us to make meaning and create stories. Having an agreed time frame, with signals that indicate the progression and end of the time, allows us to gracefully disengage. Or if there has been previous agreement for extensions, to pause and add the co-creation of an extended time frame.

The practices of all participants stating intentions before going into touch, and doing check-ins either during or after, allow for clarity and grace to exist. Even a simple, short intention is worth expressing. Sometimes what we expect someone to say is different from what they express. This also helps keep clarity and grace present. Generally, what someone expresses doesn't need to be questioned, but using curiousity to gain clarity is always welcome.

The illustration included with this article shows our basic layout and easy reference guide for the practices we encourage as part of creating a graceful connection structure where touch is involved.

Finally, where is the flow? Well, the best flow, or energetic dance in connection, is gained when the participants are comfortable, clear, free of meaning making, safely contained and gracefully guided. In the world of touch, we feel that good connection structures are integral to creating the best flow possibilities.




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