LLF Project curriculum
The curriculum is centered around the interpretive guidebook and supporting material found on the Project’s “Living the Loving Life” initiative website’s video, podcasts and writings. The LLF Project’s approach mixes visual, auditory and experiential learning in unique and powerful ways. The elements are: small group interaction, short educational video clips that give encouragement to participants to dive deep into the learning pond of their own experience, and the interpretive guidebook that puts a structure to the experiential learning and guides the initial sessions of the small groups.
The educational program follows a general curriculum that is continuous and self-replicating. The initial program is for 9 months and during that time the participants are part of three separate 9-person group. The pioneering conveners of the 9-person groups will mainly emerge from among those who have participated in past workshops. Each of these conveners will gather eight other new members for the first 9-month group. The initial conveners of the groups simply arrange times and a gathering places and are not expected to “lead” the group. By being conveners, rather than “leaders,” qualities of mutual competence and collaboration through sharing and caring are enhanced. When there is a designated leader, the innate wisdom and leadership of each member is often muted. The Interpretive Guidebooks will provide ample direction for the members of the Community-based groups. There will be at least one meeting of the group per month, and each session lasts 3- 4 hours. Every session begins with 2 rounds of the Talking Stick. Participants sit in a circle, and only the one holding this sacred stick is allowed to talk and can say anything at all so long as it is the truth. Nobody interrupts the speaker; all simply sit in silent witness. When the speaker has finished speaking the stick is passed to the next person. Each round of the stick lasts on average a half hour. The group breaks into three trios, doing the exercise designated for the particular session. For the first five sessions, the exercises have been previously been reviewed at home by each participant as they study the interpretive guidebook. The last four sessions are described in more detail below. The nine-month experience is as follows:
Month 1- Introduction
Month 2- Loss
Month 3- Love
Month 4- Forgiveness
Month 5- Saying Goodbye
Month 6- Imagining our own death (an audio visualization)
Month 7- Invitation of a family member to the group
For this session, each group member invites one family member, and thus a group of 18 is created. After one round of the Talking Stick, the group divides into three groups of six people composed of 3 participants and their family members. Each group member in turn takes five minutes and tells the others (acting as witnesses) some personal thoughts about their accompanying family member, and then that person speaks directly to his or her family member for ten minutes as if these were the last moments of their life together. Each person has a similar fifteen minutes with his or her family member, and after a pause for a few minutes, the group then reconvenes for a final round of the Talking Stick.
Month 8- A trios weekend
At the end of the previous (seventh) session, three group members are assigned at random to be together for a weekend, and will decide the time and place to meet. When the trio gets together at the start of the weekend, they pass the Talking Stick for three rounds during which time they say how they would like to spend the weekend. During the weekend, they make time (a couple of hours) for sharing their Family Tree composed of at least 2 generations. They will take not more than half an hour to draw their family tree as a genogram or as an abstract tree. They will use pastel colors for those relatives who are known, liked or loved, and darker colors for those unknown, or for those with whom there is unfinished business. Those who have died are noted along with infant deaths or miscarriages. Each participant then spends 20 minutes speaking about their Tree, as the others simply witness. After each has spoken about their Tree, they reconvene for two or more rounds of the Talking Stick. This weekend is processed with the larger group during the opening round of the Talking Stick at the final (9th) session.
Month 9- Final Session
Includes three rounds of the Talking Stick, a time for mutual blessings, a feast created by the group, and time to say goodbye to each of the other members.
Before the final session, each of the members will have convened a new group and arranged time and place for the first meeting. Subsequent groups might be with neighbors, fellow workers, friends, family, or fellow students. Or the group might be composed of all women (or men) or couples during pregnancy, or fellow parishioners or teachers, or parents and teachers etc. The Project will share ideas about these groupings and will assist finding members if necessary through the web connection.
Participants will have the opportunity for three beginnings and three endings, for beginnings and endings in our lives set the tone for what follows. The curriculum is the same for each of the three groups, so participants repeat the experiential exercises three times. (Those who have attended three or more workshops have observed that each time the exercises are repeated, the experiences are very different and move to deeper levels.) The sustaining program follows the initial program, and continues for a lifetime. The sustaining program starts following the final session of the third series of workshops, and each member will convene a group of nine people with the intention of continuing the new group indefinitely.