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Peer groups: Cumbria spring group - third full day

Up, making time for a longer yoga practice this morning. Settle on Satie's piano music as a background CD. Sitting meditating with Catero. A plunge in the stream. Such a beautiful spring morning. Outside our bedroom window a wren is nesting and, on the other side, just outside our door a swallow flits in and out of its nest. As so often, particularly at this stage of a group, there is so much to talk about at breakfast - sitting out in the sun - that starting the more formal group time starts to slip a bit. Years ago I would tend to get quite pernickety and organising about things like this. Now I notice that I'm much more laid back about this kind of issue ... not sloppy I hope, but definitely more laid back!

As so often, we start by going round checking in how each of us is doing. Such a lesson, that I need to re-learn repeatedly. I'm feeling great, very mellow, very content and happy. It's so easy for me to project that others must be in the same kind of relaxed state. As we go round, it's clear that some are feeling a bit similar, but others have been stirred up and have a real momentum for more 'work'. This is fine. We decide that each couple will do a drawing or drawings of what is going on in their lives - the different commitments, relationships, life areas - and how the balance of activities, especially how much time is going to the relationship, feels to each member of the couple. People also begin thinking about changes they want to make. Very interesting us all being in couples here together, it makes this kind of exercise so much easier. We end the morning coming back to the full group to present briefly what has emerged for each of us.

Then lunch and again a break till 5.00pm for walking, talking, snoozing, writing, and so on. This ‘between-the-main-group-meetings' time is very special too.

The second full group meeting of the day is more challenging. Some deep distress has been stirred up by the interactions. Challenging in all kinds of ways. With quite a few skilful, experienced people here, one caution in peer groups is not to have ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth'. There's something too about acknowledging the extraordinary depth and value of emotional work that can be done here, and also being realistic about what can and can't be achieved in relatively short time chunks like this. It's one of the many blessings of meeting year after year. Issues may come and go over the years and can be worked on in different ways. Gradually the group moves through the difficulties. Like stormy weather changing to clearer skies, there are classic sequences that one so often moves through during these groups. Part of the safety is in having seen the changes from emotional sunshine to stormy weather to sunshine again so many times that one has a deep faith that the rain and thunder won't last for ever. We work again in ‘fishbowls' as well, this time looking at issues around power in our relationships and in ourselves.

Again we stop to eat another lovingly prepared meal. It's the final evening. We all end up in the group room, the sofas are pulled to the walls, and we dance and dance.

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