by Hanneke Geraeds-de Vries, Kiloby Inquiries Facilitator
For a while I worked with bullied children one-on-one. It was very promising to see how, for most of them, suffering released easily by using a child-friendly version of Scott Kiloby’s Inquiries. I wanted to make this work available for more children, so I decided to start doing group work also. Oh boy, did I underestimate what that entailed…
I remember one instance, very vividly: the group of children and I were assigned a little built-in gym at an elementary school. It had big windows, looking out on the main hallway of the school. It also had lots of fun stuff within reach of the children; offering much more fun than my course, of course…
I had trouble catching the children’s attention, let alone getting them to look at their thoughts and to feel their feelings. A friendly teacher showed me three folding screens with which I created a more private and cozy space within the gym – keeping all the fun stuff out of sight. That seemed to work a little better.
Except for one boy. He just couldn’t keep still for long. He kept on exploring the gym – throwing all kinds of balls, climbing on whatever he could climb on, jumping on skippy balls, etc.
I was very much aware that any teacher or parent could show up any minute in the hall. I anticipated their frowning faces, imagining they would wonder how on earth I could let things get so out of hand. I was very much aware that I was responsible if this boy hurt himself.
I saw myself desperately trying out different ways to take back control: trying to stay friendly, counting to three out loud, saying I would inform his mother if he wouldn’t come sit with us again, ignoring him, and threatening with punishment. I’m not proud of it… Nothing really worked…
Meanwhile the boy had climbed to the top of the wall rack. While rushing towards the rack, I noticed the coloured hoops on the floor. We had done an exercise with those hoops – an exercise I came up with to make use of this boy’s restlessness. The idea of the exercise was that the children would jump from one hoop to the other as long as the music was playing. Then I suddenly would stop the music and, depending on what colour of hoop they landed in, they were invited to share about pictures (green hoops) or words (blue hoops) in their minds or what they felt in their bodies (red hoops).
I don’t know what made me do it, maybe my years of practicing Natural Rest, but I demonstratively stepped into the closest red hoop. I started sharing:
“I feel angry. I feel the energy of it in my chest and in my arms and now also in my cheek.”
I kept describing how the energy changed and finally disappeared. Now I had his attention! And not his alone. You could hear a pin drop. The boy started to climb down the rack. I didn’t even have to ask him to.
From that moment on we, as a group, could do inquiry together from this place of connection. We added a few 1-minute mini breaks with lots of movement. That worked for all of us.
Stepping into the red hoop woke me up from believing my old and familiar deficiency story of being not good enough as I am.
I stepped into resting with the raw physical sensations and out of the reactivity of using half-baked ways to try to get this boy to listen to me. Until then, all the approaches I tried that hadn’t worked only served to prove that I indeed wasn’t good enough; enhancing my fear that soon everyone would know, if teachers or parents peered into the windows, or if this boy hurt himself. I imagined I would have to take him to the emergency room and explain to his parents what had happened.
Until I stepped into the red hoop, I didn’t see that most of this was just an illusionary world, a-should-be-and-could-be-world, created with smoke and mirrors — all self-created as a distraction, away from my anger that was building up inside.
Unconsciously I believed that turning towards the anger wasn’t safe. Something I picked up in childhood.
Stepping into the red hoop brought me back in line with reality. Turning towards this what-is-now-world, resting with the raw physical sensations of anger, made all the difference.
By consciously turning towards the raw sensations of difficult ‘negative’ feelings instead of automatically turning away from them, we are a living example for children. The whole habit of buying into an imaginary should-be-and-could-be-world, and suffering because of it, would become obsolete. Imagine that! We no longer would pass this self-inflicted way of suffering down to our children. And at the same time, we would connect with them on a deeper level.
For true connection only happens in the what-is-now-world.
If this is something that resonates with you, I invite you to explore your what-is-now-world – to feel the raw sensations in your body, so that you can discover this for yourself. You can use this simple flow chart, based on the Inquiries, that I use in my workshops with adults and with children. If you are a (grand)parent, caretaker, teacher or coach, you can use it also to do this together with (your) children by taking turns and sharing with and listening to each other.