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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspiration #98: Down Memory Lane

I’ve been in a lot of sharing groups during the second half of my life. I remember the first group I was ever a part of; it happened at a teen church camp in Ontario when I was sixteen. I was new at this kind of interaction, yet I felt a sense of homecoming, belonging, and rightness. A part of me I hardly knew existed was being nourished. I learned that, in my father’s words, “The magic of ritual space made it safe for us to be who we truly are.” Since then I have grown and healed through participating in sharing groups. One of the things I am most grateful for is the way my group experience prepared me to be a wife, birthgiver, and mother. I watched people share their intimate feelings and realized what a precious gift their sharing was – grief, pain and anger as well as happiness and joy – and how honored I was to be with them as they gave birth to themselves. I began to learn to listen. Their openness made it safe for me to open myself up too, and the atmosphere of love and respect assured me that my sharing, too, would be accepted as a precious gift. It was a great way to learn how to open up to my husband, to birth, and to my children. [...] A group leader is like a midwife. A midwife is like a group leader. A group leader may be called upon to guide someone through an intense passage to a new spiritual state. A midwife cultivates awareness of the emotional sphere surrounding a laboring woman and finds ways to to respond appropriately and constructively. One of the strongest links in my mind between home birth and sharing groups is that sense of honor and privilege I mentioned earlier; at home a woman is free to surround herself with those who consider it a precious gift to be in her presence as she gives birth. This attitude on the part of her attendants creates the safety of knowing that she is not being held to a certain standard of behavior; whatever she does, however she feels, is right and acceptable. Her needs and her goals create the standard for those who support her. Both midwives and group leaders focus on bringing about this “magic of ritual space.” Linda Simonetti Odhner, “Sharing Groups, Midwifery, and the Nurturing Self,” in BORN (Birth-Oriented Resource Network) Magazine, #11, August ’93, p. 1 Quoted source: Paul Simonetti, in What’s Growing On, the Psychosynthesis newsletter, p. 11

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