The play-savoring exercise is called STRETCHING the YUMMMM
Here’s the technique:
Take turns being the savorer and the supporter
Savorer: Think of something that happened, such as a moment or a project that you enjoyed, appreciated, received, or made you feel good about.
Zoom into the impact that just thinking about it has on your heart/body/mind. Notice it in increasingly high resolution.
Supporter: Ask questions that support your buddy savoring their experience:
Some possible questions:
- What happens in your body? Heart? When you say that?
- What else was delicious about that?
- Can you feel that in your toes?
- If that whole experience were a color, what color would it be? Can you marinate in that color and feel it in every cell?
- How can we savor that some more?
Give them ample time and space to enjoy it without prompts and questions. See if you can notice when a prompt would be helpful and when it would interrupt their savoring. Notice how you feel while they’re savoring.
No need to read further unless you need to see an example.
Savoring The Workshop Email
Now that might have been my favorite facilitation of all time. I didn’t expect us to get that many people. I would have been happy with 20 people and overjoyed if we got 50, and then we had a huge circle that touched almost all four corners of the wall. I can’t believe they had to bring chairs in from two different rooms to accommodate all those people, and we were even able to expand the circle so no one was left out of the circle. Hearing that people were in line outside shows how much of a need there is for a workshop like this where people can feel fully human.
Question: What happens in your body?
What happens in my body while I describe this? Such joy and presents, as I really just simply the title alone, was something that people needed to address. Even Steph, Abe’s wife, who couldn’t come, said she wanted to go because she wanted to confront a fear of hers regarding making a short film as she has been putting it off for years. The way I felt at that time as we kept getting more and more people was like, “We are going to rock this. I’m amped for people to experience this workshop, as we are both badass facilitators addressing something so vital and core to our human existence, and I feel so lucky to be here right now. I don’t want to be anywhere else but right here.”
I loved that we chose to start with the drawing exercise as people were laughing and having fun, and we had the opportunity to help others people in the meantime. I also felt people connecting and really beginning to create that safe space during the play. All of the pens and paper we got, were used, and just watching people drawing each other and playing, to begin with, just up the happy and connected mood so much. It was like WDS times 10, as the energy was so high, and I was feeding off of it. People were already connecting in ways that they hadn’t done the entire SXSW, as this conference can be lonely with so many people around but not connecting, so to have people drawing each other, high-fiving, and just letting themselves play for a little bit, felt like we were tapping into a part of their inner child soul that had been wanting to get out the entire conference.
I love how you learned how to pronounce all of the Native American land names, and that was an excellent grounding. I felt we connected with them from the beginning and created a sacred space in that massive circle.
I also loved how you expressed scars and wounds and explained them in a way that made it an even safer space for people, as they understood what you were saying and really resonated with it, which made them share even more because they felt held in a way.
Question: What else was delicious about that?
How quickly and deeply we created a safe space. From the drawing exercise to the land acknowledgment to the scars and wounds, we kept going deeper and deeper. Not to mention the hugging of people who we knew to start, as I was amazed at how deep some connections we had made even before the workshop began. Johanna from HR, Meg and Anne from the day before, Neelam, who you met the other day and I was introduced to over email, my friend Kenzie, who was coming out to support after supporting her at the Parker Jazz Club, even John, who I didn’t even know would experience the workshop. Who knew so many people we connected with in the last 72 hours felt like they were long-time friends coming to support us. That was quite delicious.
Why Are You Here?
People were already oohing and ahhing when we asked them why they were here, and I loved how we changed from ahh to Us too. After everyone shared with each other, hearing that one guy saying that I am scared of being rejected and then saying they are right to reject based on what I’ve done and people felt that. I just loved how people were already supporting one another. Rebekah said, “I’m scared to be my authentic self, and when asked how many people felt that way, almost 100% of people put their hands up. Even the more ridiculous ones, like I’m scared my baseball team won’t win the World Series, that was even held, as that is where that person regarded their level of vulnerability.
When they broke up into groups and started sharing, you could feel the energy in the room climbing and the level of vulnerability people were willing to go towards. When we finally brought them back, they already felt more like family, more like they were on a journey with us, and we were guiding them along the way.
I loved you sharing your story of your dad at the hospital and the casket story and merging them, as I hadn’t seen you do that before, and how when you shared that part about the janitors, I could feel people tearing up. I enjoyed sharing the Obama story and sharing the part of us looking out for one another, as you could already feel as if people were beginning to do that for each other in there.
Getting To We
When you had everyone stand up to do the calf raise, and then beautifully tied the story together to the we space, and sharing that each of us is on this mountain journey just like you. People are going to help you along the way, it reminded me of when I did this workshop in Canada with the digital nomads. Each of them had a story of someone helping them during their travels, which whom they never exchanged names, but had their back, almost like a best friend for that moment.
Question: Can I feel it in my toes?
I felt that experience all over, as I could feel people merging from simply individuals to becoming a group of WE in that space in a magical way.
Having people cross off the me, getting to WE, I remember there was a moment we were going to potentially skip something. Still, we were both on the same page enough to know that we would remind one another and that we were both patient in listening to our gut as to when it was time to move on to the next activity.
I really enjoyed getting down on one knee when you were speaking, not only because I didn’t want to block the view of other people, but I felt you were going into a trance-like space, and I wanted to enjoy it as a spectator, just as much as everyone else. It’s quite powerful to watch and a joy to be part of.
When we finally got to the place where they shared as WE, I loved the idea you had about them standing up, and giving them only 2 minutes to do it, so that they could be primed and ready to share as a group. Being able to play the calm down song, even though no one could hear it, brought me a ton of joy as I was walking around with my laptop high-fiving people. Hearing people saying things like “We Are Scared We Are Not Enough…We Are Scared We Are Alone…” but having joy as they were embracing such a scary feeling and feeling liberated by it, brought me an immense amount of joy and humble happiness.
During the debrief, I didn’t even notice that I was still on my knees, talking about how we were holding space for one another and that, at the same time, people might enjoy it. It also was surreal as they may never have thought they would be sharing their fears out loud, let alone dancing while sharing them and playing with their fears.
Question: If that part of the experience were a color, what color would it be?
It would be yellow like a sunflower, which is one of my favorite flowers because it is open, it brings joy and happiness, it is vulnerable in how spread out it is, it’s bold and is ready to take in all the nutrients, the love, the good and the bad, and then covert it into something special that can benefit others. It was such a vibrant, sunlike yellow, and I felt the magic of basking in it.
Your People, Your Ancestors, & Your Descendants
Running the people, ancestors, and descendants part felt more right than I have ever felt about it before. I loved feeling people jotting down so many names and then realizing how many people had their backs. The one guy who said, “I am scared of being rejected, but all these people on this list, none of them have rejected me,” was so powerful, as we had this person transform, even if just for this moment, into believing they are enough after only 45 minutes. That is the power of this work when we are all in on it. Also, both of us looked at each other and just knew how much time each group we would give them. I also loved you asking people how did it feel to make that list and people sharing, like Shane, who had some famous people on there, and him feeling so playful in sharing. So many people were playful in their sharing, and I just loved us asking people to list their descendants and how we both had really good ways of sharing, who that might be. How they would need to confront their fears to help their descendants confront theirs, which was quite powerful. Also, sharing Laura’s story as well as Maya’s, we both did a good job of sharing the story in an impactful way. I loved walking to the door and asking people to recite the people to themselves before walking into any place, and imagining being love in the room or wanting to be play in the room. Sooooo good!
Question: What happens in my body? Heart? when you say that?
In my heart, I felt complete. I felt like this is the work I was meant to do and that this magical experience is something I wouldn’t ever forget. Regardless of whether we work with anyone else again in this capacity, the goal of wanting to change someone’s life for the better happened to many people in that workshop and the evolution of it. How meticulous we were, all the workshops we had run that culminated into this was so worth it, and I felt so blessed and lucky to be a part of it. I felt the magic.
This might have been my favorite part, as you did something magical and new this time that I hadn’t seen before. You took your time with the rock story, and you allowed people to really feel it, and you asked people to sit or lay down, and Meg and Shane immediately did that as if we were at a playground. That’s when I knew we had created a safe space for at least a few people to go there. It was magnificent and humbling to watch. I could feel people tearing up, getting emotional, allowing themselves to let go of their rocks, and putting them in that gigantic magical circle, us crushing the rocks together and carrying them back as pebbles. When I finally looked and saw that we were 5 minutes over, I was like, who cares, this is powerful, and it matters.
So, when you finally closed it out and people opened their eyes, I thought many people felt so lucky to be there.
As I was high-fiving people and passing out cards, and remembering us sharing the ripple effect of telling others that they are not alone, I felt some people’s lives had shifted.
There was this black woman Donna from Ohio, who said she didn’t know why she was there and kinda was dragged there, and to see her at the end all lit up and saying, “I”m glad I came,” brought me so much joy. That older white dude who said he was worried about getting old and then seeing all these other hands raised of other people feeling the same way, and seeing the burden of his fears being lifted slightly, brought me an immense amount of happiness.
One person even said this was the best workshop/talk/event that she had been to at SXSW, and I was like Yesssssssss. Hugging people afterward, when it was only handshakes, to begin with, I felt that even if they forget about this workshop after the weekend is over, there is going to be a moment this year and in their lifetime when they will be overwhelmed with fear. They will go back to what we taught that day and be able to hold space for themselves to get through it.
Question: How can we savor this some more?
I’m going to re-read this email from time to time. That’s part of the reason why I am writing this in the first place. Each time I’m about to run a workshop, I will think about this one and how amazing it was and strive to create some of the same feelings.
As I’m now putting together this TEDx talk about hierarchy and winning, I realize that most of the time in life, people feel less than someone else, whether that is through imposter syndrome, actually losing in some experience, or just feeling alone because they feel someone or people are superior to them. I could feel it and experience it during SXSW, especially every time we saw celebrities and people going crazy about them.
But for that one magical hour, we all felt connected, we all felt seen and heard, in some way, similar to when you attend a concert or a sporting event, and there is one rare magical moment where everyone feels as one, that is the experience we were able to create. We may not be famous rock stars, but we created magic that some of them can’t even do, as we allowed these 70+ people to find ways not only to overcome their fears but hold space for one another as if they knew each other for years, even though they had just met. That is a powerful superpower to have, and I’m humbled by how we choose to wield it in a responsible and caring way.
It is such an honor to facilitate with you. I consider you one of the best facilitators I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen and experienced hundreds of facilitations) because your ability to read and understand the room is a true superpower. You are so good at nurturing the room that even a recording carries more weight and creates more of a safe space than other facilitators can do in person.
Last Question: How do I feel after this magical experience?
I feel lucky. I feel blessed. I feel like I experienced magic. I felt like I was on a playground, just having fun like a kid. I feel vulnerably open…and I feel exhilar-hausted, which is what I wrote in my Kylego. This is what I wrote in my Kylego that day leading up to the workshop:
What a glorious and fun day. Woke up. Got some work done. Got the email blast thing cleared up with Wiz, and the email got sent out to everyone. Sara and I were on it this morning, texting and getting ready. I had such a lovely shower and an even better breakfast. Met Sara at CVS and didn’t feel too rushed. We got the pens and the paper and felt prepared to go to the Green Room. Met up with Sabrina and her staff, and they were super nice. They said we could do anything we wanted with the space, and we had plenty of time to set up. The perfect amount of people showed up, and we just naturally went into our Surani Harry Flow. We were amazing. We were prepared. We were on it. It was magical. People cried, people laughed, and people played. It was perfect. People came up to us afterward and said it was the best thing they had experienced here and were so happy they came. People felt transformed. We even got testimonials from people. Someone came up to us and was like. I need this at my work, can you come and do this for us so we even got a paid gig out of it. It was magical. People hung out afterward and didn’t want to leave. They just had such a good time and we also did. So glad we came and did this. This truly was the best facilitation I’ve done in the entire year so far and it will only make me better. So thankful for Surani and her facilitating magic. We celebrated afterward with people, and we couldn’t believe we did such a good job. We got drinks, really good food and just had a lovely night. I didn’t drink too much and just enjoyed a relaxing, connection-oriented night filled with friends and new people I met. Overall, I felt so proud of the work at night’s end. So good. So, so good!