In 1978 the community started with the idea of laying the foundation for a new culture free of violence, in cooperation with nature and all beings. To achieve this, we needed a strong process to create trust. This was the beginning of what today we call the ZEGG Forum. Meanwhile Forum has spread from our community into the world. Many communities in many countries have learned it from ZEGG’s Forum trainers and are using it in their own community-building process. In our experience it is one of the greatest tools to create group cohesion in a communal setting.
Transparency Creates Trust
ZEGG Forum is a deep and intimate process for groups with up to 50 participants. The aim is to reveal whatever is authentic, alive and true within us. Forum creates a space of trust and openness between people. Participants experience the freedom and permission to be who they are and allow others to witness them this way. In many social circumstances “being observed through the eyes of others” can be experienced as “the death of my possibilities”. Forum overcomes this difficulty. In this supportive environment, the eyes of the others cease to be “the death of my possibilities” and instead serve as generators for healing, growth and empowerment. I can experience that I can be fully protected whilst exposing my deep vulnerability. I can experience that my greatest protection is my greatest opening as I am accepted and supported by others. Forum creates greater mutual understanding through contacting this inner and outer journey. On this journey we will of course also meet our encapsulated pains in the shadow. If we stay present we will be able to feel the feelings involved and move on, strengthened.
The process helps everyone involved to go beyond politeness and beyond the common games of hiding and disguise. A person connected with her or his inner truth, no matter how wounded, is always beautiful and the process will create love. “To see deeply is to love” – this is very often an experience to be gained in Forum.
Forum participants generally take one of three vital roles; the presenter or protagonist, the facilitators and the “mirrors”. The group gathers in a circle. The protagonist enters the middle to share their current inner experience, something they find moving. She is invited to use the whole space in the middle, feel free to move around, to speak, act and to connect with her feelings. The only goal is to be or become authentic. In the middle, he can be heard better on many more different levels than if he remained seating in the circle. The “mirrors” listen verbally-intellectually and try to be aware of other aspects such as the tone of voice, body movements and the presenter’s “energy”.
The circle supports the presenter with their full loving awareness and presence. Their role is to perceive and to bear witness to the process. It can be very powerful and touching to witness a presenter going deeper. Often topics touch issues that many others in the group also have and their own processes are triggered. So we can learn that our emotional processes are similar; whatever happens in the middle serves as an example of similar processes within many of those observing.
The facilitators play a major role in this process and need a profound prior training. This helps them become more authentic themselves and learn to remain present with the emotions that may arise in the circle. They act as “midwives” to assist the authentic process which the presenter undergoes. Ideally there are two facilitators – one man and one woman. The facilitators alone guide the process: they may intervene at any moment (but the other observers do not intervene). They are given the trust of the group to guide the process according to their experience and intuition. The purpose of the facilitator is to reveal the personal truth of the person in the middle, their power and their highest potential, in order to make it perceptible to the presenter and the group.
Empathy – Supporting with Peer Feedback
When the presenter has finished, others can step into the middle to share what they perceived. We call this a “mirror”. It means participants offer their perspective of what they have seen. It is a gift for the presenter to learn what others think or feel about her and what they have to say, to supplement, broaden and sharpen the issue she brought forward. On the path to grow in self-experience, this form of social feedback is indispensible. The mirror is not communicated from a seat in the circle but from the middle. This underscores the personal nature of the mirror – it is one personal perception. Each mirror is subjective. And that is just how it should be. It is the presenter who carries the responsibility to accept or decline a mirror’s insight depending on whether it makes sense to him or not. Even the best mirror is just a signpost on our path; it doesn’t save us from walking the path on our own.
An effective and skilful Forum will bring out our feared shadows with humour, or in a theatrical and non-identified way, so that they can be perceived without judgement. Sometimes the energy shift can be very subtle, as when the facilitator invites the presenter to move faster, or to exaggerate gestures,or to put a sound to the feeling. Trying out different ways of behaviour and theatrically acting out emotional processes helps the presenter to step back from his emotional states. He learns that he is more than just his changeable emotions.
We see this as our contribution for the world we want to see – a world that forms from deep within the hearts of the people. Forum is part of the glue that keeps our community alive and together, it lies at the heart of the community.
Further Information: www.zegg-forum.org