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Stop Short of Licking the Screen

February 17, 2021 Sara K Schneider

Here’s one of the ways in which we actually use the body in our work with families and support groups in THE HUMAN JOURNEY® to increase the power of what we ask people to do in the course of this two-hour game, or experience. (People have come up with all kinds of ways to say what it is. One of the ones I really like is from THJ® Conductor Robert Veeder: “It’s like storyboarding your life.”) 

In most social interactions, we use sight and sound to figure out what’s going on. And of course, there are also the senses of smell, taste, and touch, which are all considerably more intimate. (That’s one reason we’re advising against licking the screen.)
In addition to being intimate, these more primitive senses also seem to hit deeper in our consciousness.

Yet what also hits hard is when we take our participants beyond the telling of their stories—especially their “stock” stories (which exist in an above-the-tripod form)—and into memories that get them into their bodies. One way of doing that is not letting them speak! When you ask people to remember something but not to tell it, or to visualize how it was at the time but not to describe it, very often they enter a level of experience that is powerful both for themselves and for the others present.
Actors have a technique for going deeply into their emotions that is called “sense memory.” When they need to recreate a feeling night after night for a stage performance, or for multiple takes when filming a scene, they may recall not necessarily the feeling of a similar moment in their own lives to that of the character but rather the sensations that surrounded that moment.

It works because it doesn’t go for the jugular, trying to force emotion. Rather, it invites emotion through the re-experience as the body took it in at the time.
If you want to give it a shot, try asking someone you care about where they were and what they were doing when they learned about 9/11/00, or 1/6/21, about another moment in national history that was significant. Slow the telling down to get the physical details. And notice the level of bodily detail they’re showing you that goes beyond the sight and sound you’d otherwise get by asking them how they felt at the time.


Join us to learn how to help families of support and of relation come together in the face of challenge and bridge isolation, grief, and silence.


Image © Tracy Glantz. This is the Inner Me.

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