Major ingredients in the mix boil down to permission, attention and time. Gathering as a group for this purpose gives social support to the endeavour. It says yes, getting in touch with our depths is of value in our lives. The simple fact of being away from the responsibilities and distractions of your outer life for a while makes attending to your inner life easier. It takes time for things to shape up and emerge. Yes, let it stew.

You and your process are unique. We believe you are the best person to be in charge of, to be directing, your own work. There is a wise part of you that knows how to go about this business of growing. One aspect of what coming to a group is about is learning how to better tune into that deeper wiser side of yourself. Other parts of you may masquerade as inner wisdom and you need to be able to tell the difference.

This is a place that welcomes experiences that may be a bit difficult to fit into our lives elsewhere. Experiences signalling deeper meaning come in all shapes and sizes, including what may seem to be 'distractions'. Approach the group experience with as fresh and open a mind as you can. An approach laden with preconceptions and expectations, including from past experience of work on yourself, may get you stuck for a while. Be open to the possibility of being surprised.

Our advice is to start where you are, with a thought, a feeling, a sensation, an image, an impulse, and see where it goes, rather than try to know already. This is true exploration and experimentation. Allow a thought into your head that you normally banish to the corners, then once it's there you may be able give it utterance - to speak it - maybe just to one other person, or to the whole room. You may feel something about it, and express that. You may feel you haven't a clue what to do with or about it, and so you could express that.

Such expressions are by no means confined to the verbal, or articulate verbal. You may not want to use your words or voice but rather manifest what is coming out in a painting or poster on the wall. We have resources which encourage, give license to the non-verbal and the theatrical: there are plenty of cushions and mattresses, art materials, a variety of toys and objects, dress-ups, musical instruments, a stereo - and more.

The other members of the group are resources too, both in their story that they bring, and in your reaction to them. Whatever that response may be, whether of extreme irritation, adulation, or even boredom, it can signal what lies beneath the surface. The richer reward is in letting the experience of your response to them lead you there to that deeper level of your own being.

That feeling you're having now when allowed to develop may lead to insight about its first happening - where you fixed yourself in relation to it, fixed yourself in a certain mode or thought, where you didn't move on from a certain event in your life.

Because it's scary as well as wonderful, we have all developed ways of inhibiting, ignoring, denying, not paying attention to and defending against the various manifestations of this unfolding process. Simple things you can do - or not do - go a long way towards allowing inner things to emerge. For example, if you do something a lot, try not doing it or doing the opposite.

Don't go head-on against a lot of internal resistance. If you have to dig away with the psycho-emotive equivalent of a JCB, whatever is there is not ready to come out or you're digging in the wrong place. These things have their own timing and their own way. Respect that and tune in.

Like embarking on any significant journey, in this journey of self discovery you prepare yourself as best you can, then off you go, being careful and being open to adventure, all in one. It's your trail that you have to find through a landscape; it's a path but one that's barely there - no one has been on it before because it's yours. The path takes you through woodland and field, wide open spaces, mud, brambles, fog. Sometimes the dark is so deep you cannot see in front of you. But, fog clears and mists lift and you can find your next footfall. A few steps and you may turn a corner, the view of the landscape changes - you can see for miles. All you ever have to do is find that one next step. And sure enough, you'll be back in the bramble thicket again somewhere else down the path, and everything in between.

© Juliana Brown 2007