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I really appreciated the video by Mays Imad for the Daily reflection number 16, talking about bringing one’s heart into facilitation work, and take care to support the hearts of participants/students as well. This reminded me of some very effective facilitation activities I’ve witnessed others doing, including in MYFest.

At the beginning of some MYFest sessions in past years we’ve been asked how are we feeling, in various ways. Sometimes it’s a request to write something in the chat, sometimes it’s a set of images that one can choose from (with oral or text descriptions for accessibility), sometimes it’s on something like mentimeter, or otherwise. It’s an engaging way to bring into the space the fact that we are all whole human beings with joys and disappointments, frustrations and gratitudes, laughter and tears. And that all of that is coming into the space anyway, and inviting a space for it helps us to engage more authentically.

I think it can also help us to engage with each other, and with the facilitators, in ways that we as participants can support ourselves and each other during the session, recognizing that in addition to what we’re working on for that period of time, we’re connecting with people (including ourselves) who are bringing a lot more, who may be distracted due to other things, who may need some quiet time, who may participate more or less actively and in very different ways, and that we’ll all need different things at different times given what else we’re doing and how else we’re feeling as we come into a space together.

I also really appreciated a facilitator who shared in a session a few years ago that their heart was heavy due to some really difficult things happening in communities outside the institution. I appreciate that phrase, one’s heart being heavy, as a really helpful descriptor of both an emotional and a kind of physical feeling, and it resonates with how I sometimes feel too. I also appreciated this person bringing that into the session, as it provided a welcoming space for others to share their own sincere feelings if they chose.

Of course, not everyone is willing to share their feelings, and that’s not an issue at all. It’s important to provide a space where folks can bring their hearts even if they aren’t sharing with others what’s in them. I am curious about thoughts from others on how to do this, how to bring in hearts as well as minds while ensuring that those who want to keep their hearts to themselves feel like it’s okay to do this even while others may be sharing?

Christina Hendricks,