This guide explains how to use the “Sedona says” - essays for group discussion or for self study and personal growth. The essays are the Principles of Theofatalism in action as discovered in Voices of Sedona. While skipping and skimming the material is possible, gaining the full benefits requires a systematic study of each essay in the order they are presented. They are written to challenge students into a more rigorous study of the Principles of Theofatalism and to help them become aware of current events they may not usually observe or perceive. Everyone lives under the Principles of Theofatalism whether they are aware of them or not.
The essays are presented here without professional editing to preserve their originality just as they were received. The materials all may be downloaded and reproduced without any copyright restrictions. In fact, they are encouraged for distribution as widely as possibly so long as the entire contents are kept intact and not modified in any way and they are referenced to this website. The whole contents may be copied and printed for referral in a three ring binder for group use.
Support groups can be convened by average people to deal with a wide variety of life issues. Perhaps you can start one, using Voices of Sedona as a guide to serenity and contentment. All you need to do is identify a group of people who want to work together on common issues in managing stressful living. Merely having a mutual interest in helping each other can produce effective results. Perhaps you are called to get such a group started in your neighborhood. Anthropologist, Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a few dedicated people can change the world.” A few basic ground rules of operation can help make group discussion a very effective healing experience. Victor Hugo said, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
1. Choose a quiet meeting place without distractions. Sometimes churches or other public facility managers will make such a place available for weekly meetings at a convenient time for the participants. Homes are suitable meeting places if a quiet room big enough is available. Avoid refreshments until after the meeting.
2. Open each meeting with a short restatement of its purpose, e.g., healing the stress of life with the Principles of Theofatalism given in Voices of Sedona, or feeling good inside, no matter what happens outside.
3. Start and end each meeting precisely at the agreed-upon times. Keep the sessions to two hours or less. Give each newcomer a few minutes to share his/her background and objective for joining the group. Then have those in the group who volunteer to do so give a short summary of their backgrounds to the newcomer.
4. Use first names only, following with the first letter of the last name, unless participants specifically decide to share their full names. Exchange telephone numbers or e-mails and encourage members to call each other between meetings to share further. Often close friendships are developed this way.
5. During the meeting, members may focus discussion on one of these Sedona says - essays. Other members may then comment on the way the same material has affected their lives and offer feedback to the originator if permission is asked and received. However avoid crosstalk between members and specific responses directed to one who has just spoken. Such crosstalk can be harmful to the healing process and create a codependent environment, especially if it involves judging or advising by unqualified speakers. You want to create a safe place where people can be free to express their thoughts and feelings without being judged, rejected, or ill-advised. Each member should share only his or her own experience, thoughts, feelings, strength, despair, or hope.
6. If it is part of the agreement, take a collection at each meeting to compensate the space provider for snacks and compile a central account for occasional group socials, publicity, and the like. Members might be chosen to keep the records, make plans, and safeguard any financial resources. However, no formal organization is needed or recommended.
7. Encourage expressions of negative and positive feelings alike, complete with profanity and tears or laughing and hugging if a person wants to make such a disclosure. Let all expressions of emotion be OK without judging them. Do not deny or prevent expression of any strong emotions or belittle tears and rages. Have some soft tissues handy.
8. Alternate leadership of the group regularly, so no one person becomes a teacher or takes on responsibility for fixing broken members of the class. Each person must be free to work out his or her own healing.
9. Encourage everyone to leave the group when their work is well along, and possibly slightly before complete healing, so they can transition to spiritual evolution on their own, and make room for others. Support groups should not be permitted to become a lifetime crutch or substitute for self-reliance.
10. If the group grows beyond ten to twelve members, consider starting a second group. Participation may be attenuated if too many people prevent adequate time for sharing. Caution: If any member of the group seems uncontrollably disruptive or misbehaves to the point of alarming or threatening other members, that person should be carefully, but seriously, invited to leave and encouraged to get professional help.
Mature, healthy adults live through transitions continually as they age, giving up the past and learning new coping skills as appropriate. Harvard psychiatrist Kenneth Levin writes that healthy people have “a predisposing inclination to approach the world anticipating gratification and an inclination to interpret experiences in a positive, promising light.” That may be more or less difficult for you to do, depending on how you are made. Ernest Hemingway observed that life breaks everybody, “and some people grow stronger at the broken places.” The secret to growth is in expecting that benefits of your new life will far exceed the burdens of giving up your old life. Some people seem to accept the benefits of growth more easily, while others resist giving up the familiar burdens; in other words, they hang onto childish behavior and beliefs because it hurts too much to give them up.
Personality plays a role. It may be that extraverts, who respond to events, people, and things outside themselves, will be less able to give up their externally driven stimulants, while introverts, who respond more to ideas, concepts, and information from inside themselves, are less prone to being controlled by events outside themselves. However, extraverts may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts in groups than introverts. It is said that if you don’t know what an extravert is thinking, you haven’t listened, and if you don’t know what an introvert is thinking, you haven’t asked.
For all the knowledge about human behavior gained during the past, it is still uncertain how much people can change by their own effort. Some people seem to be more elastic than others. Ambition and the ability to imagine the future seem to have a lot to do with it and, of course, valuing the benefits of change more than the burdens also helps. All growth is painful and scary, as we must let go of familiar discomfort to move into uncertain futures. In comfort there is no growth. The continuous process of discovery can always benefit from renewal through group therapy. One who learned this lesson said, “It is like spring cleaning. You get to dust off everything and sort through stuff. You get to throw a lot of junk away.” Another said it is like weeding your garden: “once is never enough.”