In my previous blog post titled Membrane/Boundary Work Part Two I talked about human boundaries/membranes and how we have to learn good boundaries, sometimes as an adult if we didn’t grow up being trained and supported in having good boundaries. I then suggested several exercises. If you haven’t read that post, I suggest you do that now and do the exercises, then come back here.
I want to repeat this advice: If you are in an abusive relationship or someone you love is in that position, get help NOW. Don’t wait until something worse happens. Go to a professional for assistance and summon the courage to tell the truth about what’s happening. If someone has told you to keep a secret it’s because they know what they are doing is wrong. No one has the right to abuse, threaten or hurt you. There are support groups for people whose boundaries have been violated and who need support. Look on the Internet in your county and you’ll find them. Sometimes people feel we don’t really deserve to have our boundaries. That is learned from childhood and it is NEVER right. People who love us can still violate our boundaries. It is still wrong.
Boundaries/Membranes are a two-sided issue–establishing good boundaries for ourselves, and learning to respect and support other people’s boundaries. They go together. In the previous post I offered the Rope Circle Exercise for Establishing & Healing Our Membranes/Boundaries. Now I want to suggest using that Rope Exercise for respecting and supporting other peoples membranes/boundaries.
EXERCISE: RESPECTING & SUPPORTING OTHER PEOPLE’S MEMBRANES/BOUNDARIES
This is an exercise for a group or at least two people. Set it up like the previous exercise with a rope or piece of yarn in a circle. One person is alone in that circle and the circle represents their membrane of boundary. That person is surrounded by friends/helpers who are just outside the rope or yarn. The person in the circle announces “I have a right to have my boundary” and “I choose who I let into my boundary, it is my choice.” The people outside then say, “Yes, we support you having a boundary and having choice.” They remain outside the person’s boundary. The person inside can also say, “I will learn to tell people respectfully but firmly, “this is my boundary and I want you to honor that.” How does that feel to each of you? If feelings come up you can tell your friends and write them down. You can trade off and have a different person in the circle and repeat it so each one gets a chance.
START/STOP EXERCISE: In another version you pair up with another person. No rope is needed. Stand about 10 or 20 feet apart facing each other. One person is the speaker. They say, “start” and the other person starts taking steps toward them very slowly. Then the speaker says “stop” at some point. The other person respects the boundary command. You can say start again and stop and start and stop. Respect it each time. Then trade off roles. Then you can share what that was like for you in each role. Notice what you feel in your body or if feelings come up. For some people it is the first time they’ve felt their boundary respected. This is a great exercise to do with children, a lot like red light/green light.
In the next blog post, Membrane/Boundary Work Part Four, we will work on applying this membrane/boundary work to the Earth’s membranes/boundaries
© Jerry Allen 2016
About the author – I hold a masters in public health education from UC Berkeley and a masters in counseling psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. I’ve been a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist since 1991, and am certified in Somatic Experiencing. I began my medicine man training in my first vision quest in 1973. I was initiated as a medicine man under the training and supervision of Theresa Dintino. I studied Aikido for 30 years and received 3 black belts. I live and practice in Oregon and Sebastopol, and enjoy playing music, tending our apple orchard, and spending time with my two wonderful children.
Jerry Allen, LMFT, SEP, MPH, Anishinaabe Mashkikiiwinini (Medicine Man)
Gratitude Way Medicine Man Counseling & Coaching – email@example.com