This is a practice that can be described as a sharing session, often held in circular formation, where each person is invited to share their feelings and perspective on their "world" or their individual needs and thoughts and presence level with the group.
It is generally conducted at the beginning of meetings of different meeting types, so that all involved can gain understanding of the "vibe" of others in the meeting. We customarily give a "presence level" between 0 ("I am totally somewhere else, and can't even think about what is going on around me.") to 10 ("I am totally present and focused on the now.") If a meeting begins with a check-in, it is customarily followed by a check-out, that fills a similar need, but often with compassionate feedback on the effectiveness and level of personal satisfaction with the meeting.
It is essential to our group to value compassion as part of sustainable community livelihood. It is as important to listen to others' check-ins as to express your own self in this format. It is a way to feel what is going on in other people's minds and especially important to connect a community that does not entirely reside together. Listening to what others are "going through" can often bring a larger perspective to one's life that allows one to remove some of one's own internal struggles and resistances, or to open a "door in the mind" that was previously closed. It also opens up avenues for others to give appreciation and acknowledgement when they become aware of members' thoughts and feelings.
It encourages one to be free and welcome to fully self-express, and in the action of that self-expression, it calls on us to be mindful (ie. aware) of who is actually responsible for our own feelings (ie. ourselves), rather than our tendency to externalize our feelings when we feel frustrated or overwhelmed. The result of checking-in is often an internal feeling of upliftment, closer connection to others, compassion, authenticity and group consciousness. In actual reality, we are "bringing to light" what only our own minds/selves previously were aware of, and in this process we are releasing resistance, or emotional turmoil and seeing much more clearly what is possible, rather than what is *wrong*.
This is *not* a heart circle. Unlike a heart circle, this format usually allows an allotment of time to each individual share, and some time afterward for free flowing group interaction prior to the next *share*.
This is not to be a place of complaint or blame.
It is not useful to process deep-seated feelings, but when practiced regularly, it prevents the buildup of such feelings if practitioners allow for authentic sharing in the check-in circle.
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