The Layers of T-Group 2.0 Practice

*Note that these aren't the "levels" of practice, because rather than simply graduating from one level to the next, we cycle through them on different days and in different groups. 

  • Connecting with Self

    • This is the practice of feeling, directly in the body, the variety of sensations, energies, emotions, impulses, desires, and so on that cycle through in constant motion. It is increasing the capacity to connect with the textures, colors, temperatures, locations, sizes, shapes, patterns, etc. of our raw, non-conceptual, energetic and bodily experience.
    • Somatic meditation and movement techniques can be really helpful here. Check out Reggie Ray's audiobook, "Your Breathing Body," for a distinctly Dharmic approach to embodied meditation practice. Or join me on Monday nights at Soul Motion in Berkeley, a beautifully held, community dance event led by Valerie Chafograck. 
  • Articulating: The First Translation

    • This is the practice of translating that raw, physical, direct, non-conceptual, bodily experience into language. This isn't easy! And it's important to remember that language will only ever be a rough approximation of raw experience. 
    • Here, we make good use of the feelings lists, and it can also be extremely helpful to use journalling to slow down the inner experience and practice articulating it accurately and thoroughly. 
  • Courage, Vulnerability, Shame, & Worthiness

    • Once we've learned to deeply inhabit our direct, embodied experience and have more facility with The First Translation, we can work on developing the courage to share ourselves at increasingly deep and vulnerable levels. As we know from BrenĂ© Brown's work, vulnerability is the place that we connect, it's where we experience intimacy. 
    • This is also where we practice working with shame and self-aggression. Again, from Brown's work, we know that shame can only continue to live in conditions of secrecy and darkness. When we take the risk to share elements of ourselves that we feel ashamed of, what we usually hear in response is something like this, "Oh, I have a version of that too. For me, it's like this ____. I'm grateful that you shared, because it helps me realize that I'm not alone in it either. And I feel closer to you because of it." We don't need to become sanitized, perfected versions of ourselves in order to be worthy of love and belonging; in fact, it's often the attempt to become that version that can be so alienating. 
    • It's here where T-Group 2.0 really shines as the perfect place to practice both these elements. 
  • Comprehension & Calibration

    • Our inner world is a vastly complex and varied landscape, like a mosaic with a million pieces. The better we get at The First Translation, the better others can understand, in a deep way, what it's like to be us. The comprehension practice involves cultivating our capacity to be accurate and thorough in our speaking, and to calibrate the receiver's comprehension by tracking their facial expressions, body movements, and so on. Once the receiver has all the pieces, they can reconstruct the mosaic inside their own minds. At T-Group 2.0 gatherings, we say, "Leave No Gaps." 
      • Though the way the receiver chooses to interpret, feel about, and respond to your words is out of your hands, their comprehension is your responsibility - at least, it's helpful to practice as if that were true. 
    • The comprehension practice for the receiver of a communication is to calibrate their own comprehension, learning to sense the places where they had to "fill in the gaps" with stuff that was pre-existing in their own minds (a process that usually happens without our awareness). So the practice of The Second Translation, upon receiving another's feedback, is to say, "What I'm hearing is _____."
  • Giving Feedback

    • When we have become adept at inhabiting and tracking the nuances of the flow of inner experience, we become powerful feedback-giving machines. We can say, "Here's exactly what happens in me, at every level of my being, as I sit here in your presence. Here's how all the elements of my system respond to you as you speak and act in this group." It is such a gift to receive such high-definition feedback. 
    • This is where the agreement of "Radical Self-Responsibility" that we make at every Sunday Night gathering really comes into play. We see that we are the ones who are telling ourselves stories, making attributions, forming anticipations, and re-constellating "self" from moment to moment - and that this is the hidden inner machinery that is the real source of what we call "the world out there." 
  • Receiving Feedback

    • A whole other can of worms, this one. This is the practice of working with defensiveness, when it arises. How do you know that someone has hit on something that's still unresolved in you? You're feeling defensive. This practice is one of the more challenging ones, as it requires us to sit still in the fire of our own reactivity, resist the often very strong impulse to direct that heat towards the other person, and look towards the source of all that activation. 
  • Connecting the Dots

    • f you've been practicing for a while and have sat many groups, you start to see the underlying threads and patterns that only reveal themselves when you have a critical mass of data points. It pops spontaneously into awareness, something like, "Oh man, wow, okay, there's this particular dynamic that keeps happening in my groups, and I see now that it's actually coming from mostly my influence! I am the common denominator here! This is what I'm doing, and how I'm doing it ______." 
  • Dismantling Judgment

    • When she writes about her experience of being shifted out of all self-identification (eg. enlightenment, awakening, whatever you want to call it), Byron Katie writes, "I was in what I called 'earth school,' and everyone was showing me who I was through my thoughts about who they were" (from, "A Mind at Home with Itself"). At this level of practice, we start to recognize that what we see in others is a reflection of some aspect of ourselves. And if you want to see where you are still most unresolved and hung up in yourself, you can look to whomever you are judging and rejecting most harshly.
    • The single most powerful tool I have found for 1) peeling the layers of projection off of others and 2) using the projection itself to work my way back to the projector and clean up my own house is Byron Katie's process called, "The Work." You can find all the instructions and complementary worksheets available for free on her website: www.thework.com
  • Catalyst

    • At a certain point, you've gotten a lot out of the practice and you can use the skills and processes at will in a wide variety of contexts. You're in deep and constant contact with yourself, accurate and thorough words of articulation come easily, you share vulnerably with ease when and where it's appropriate to do so, and you can both give and receive feedback in ways that transforms potential conflict into rich opportunities for learning, growth, and deepening of connection. At that point, it might become less interesting to continue practicing, but it's here that a whole new vista of practice opens up. Your focus can turn from cultivating your inner and relational skills and onto becoming the kind of presence in a group that, through presence alone, is a catalyst for group cohesion, synergy, and transcendent collective functioning. The desire shifts from wanting to be understood/loved/etc. to wanting the group itself to be connected, cohesive, and whole (or perhaps a bit more accurately, the desire grows into wanting that group wholeness while still including the desire to be understood and loved as an individual). 
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Layers of T-Group 2.0 Practice by Crystallin Dillon, MA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.