The Stages of Group Life
MatrixWorks has been influenced by Will Schultz’s Emotional Climate Model of three stages – Inclusion, Conflict/Chaos, and Mutual Connection. MatrixWorks has renamed these spirals that transform a group into a living system as: connection, chaos, and consciousness. MatrixWorks brings a group through these spirals, which are taught experientially and theoretically, so that participants gain a felt sense in their bodies of this living work.
Inclusion transforms group process from individuals in a group setting to the creation of a living system. In a living system, the needs and gifts of all group members are included to create a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. Without attention to the inclusion phase of a group’s life, a group remains a collection of individuals, often relying on a charismatic leader to be the focal point of the group. Through this first layer of inclusion, the web of the Matrix is woven, creating safety. Within this environment, participants are encouraged to bring forth their questions, knowledge, and skills. A web of relationships is created that allows for new experiences to come forth.
During the first period, the dynamics of “Am I in or am I out?” are explored while Mukara and the co-facilitator lay the foundation of the MatrixWorks concepts. This includes:
- The Three Levels of the Matrix: The I (Intrapersonal), The We (Interpersonal), and The Environment (Field).
- The Three Conditions for Health (Nourish the members, Accomplish the task and Attend to relationships).
- Current Theory that has significantly influenced the emergence of this living work: Porges’ Social Nervous System, Quantum Physics, Chaos Theory, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and more.
- Most importantly, the teaching staff models feedback, which is food for living systems. By assimilating feedback into the Matrix, participants are able to distinguish the difference between Intention and Impact (a person may be well- intended in their actions, but the impact on others may not match).
Chaos and Conflict profoundly affect the quality of our lives. This stage is designed to reframe conflict as the doorway to greater creativity. In this process we uncouple trauma from conflict and explore the dynamic of power – “Am I up or am I down?” – in a skillful way. Throughout this stage of the group participants experience the following three benefits of working skillfully with Conflict/Chaos:
- Energy is liberated – hidden potential comes to the surface as a resource for all.
- The capacity to work with power differentials occurs – group members develop the resilience to self-correct and give themselves permission to make mistakes.
- Relationships deepen into true mutuality – when members feel connected with each other, differences can be perceived as gifts and the living system is strengthened.
By working with conflict, the group gains access to the Four F’s – Freedom, Flexibility, Fearlessness, and Formlessness.
During this stage, participants explore conflict archetypes, and have the opportunity to define their own personal style of dealing with conflict.
Consciousness happens in a group’s life when enough personal safety and interpersonal threads of connection have been established. When this occurs, conflict and differences can be welcomed instead of banished. Through experiencing integrated consciousness, the Four Immeasurables: Equanimity, Loving-kindness, Compassion and Joy come to life within the group.
Throughout this stage, the question “Am I near or am I far?” is explored. Participants revisit Inclusion and Chaos/Conflict to weave more threads of somatic and emotional empathy for others. This furthers the participants’ understanding of their impact upon individuals and on the group-as-a-whole. As the interconnectedness of the group deepens, the group experiences itself as a living system.