New support group starts in Sydney

Until recently, Sydney had one support group. Now it has two. Rick Nelson reports below on the launch of the new support group in Engadine.

The sun was setting down on a jewel of a Spring day, the birds were tweeting on the branches of an old gum tree and as people in their numbers were returning home tired and exhausted from another day 'on the job' looking to get some rest and sleep... the eyes of Engadine Support Group were just opening theirs for the first time full of energy. After more and more additions to the McGuire Programme of people from the Southern part of Sydney and surrounding areas, it was only natural that a group would start to facilitate and create a cozy little nest for graduates to fly into on a Wednesday fortnight.

Stuart Wallace, a graduate for just over 6 months, struck up a great little venue for us all at a local Church in the Sutherland Shire. The space for us there is open and perfect for motivated grads to come together not to just maintain the stage of recovery we are at but, more importantly, to improve, grow and blossom in where we are all currently on our personal 'Road to Eloquence'.

We are all currently on our personal 'Road to Eloquence'.

Ten people were able to make their appearance for the first night. Some included recent graduates from the Sydney intensive just gone and a graduate from way back in 1999, Susan, also came along; we all thought it was incredibly brave and courageous for her to come back and jump back on the bike after so many years off the programme.

Another attendee was a Sydney Speech Pathologist, Elaine, whose support, passion, openess and positive spirit for us all is always appreciated by everyone. We started the night off with 10-15 mintues of deep disciplined costal breathing in two rows of five people. There’s nothing like the sound of a group deep breathing from the diaphragm ('home of the soul') creating a powerful feeling for the start of the night.

We all then had a chance to introduce ourselves and locate a part of the technique we wanted to really work on... and this was closely monitored throughout the night by everyone. A phone call was then received from Geoff Johnston (RD) which went on loudspeaker and he had a few words for us all to say about the importance of the Support Group and things to keep in mind throughout its development, as well as having a chance for everybody to voice their thoughts and comments as well.

Encouragement and praise for everyone was once again appreciated. We then had a brief group discussion on various issues surrounding the night, our recoveries and general questions as well. The message was clear with everyone that this was a Support Group for success, not failure. It was about people supporting and offering suggestions to others if they felt they should. It was about picking up poor technique, not ignoring it and being in denial.

It was about honesty and the success that that kind of environment brings.

We then spent 10 minutes speaking in pairs with maximum of 2 words per breath!!...with exaggerated pausing. That excercise really irons out the wrinkles on concentration and for people who find resisting time pressure tough, for them at start it felt as if time was passing as slowly as a walnut-sized kidney stone. Another great by-product is that it creates a very relaxed feeling and everyone feels a new experience of time. A few on-the-spot challenges were then thrown to some people to speak about a child's toy that was given to them and to explain why they loved it so much and what special power it has. Imagination a-plenty!

Next came up more imagination. Group story-telling! I started off a fiction story involving a Genie and at the end of my 3 minutes I left the story on the edge of great things to come for the next in line Stuart... with the Genie still yet to grant a third wish. Stuart chose the third wish to make him incredibly beautiful looking and everyone thought the imagination was starting to get out of hand and far-fetched ;o) With the playfulness that being creative brings, relaxation and smiling was all around the room and the more the story kept getting better and better, the more and more people laughed.

Out of nowhere time had passed by so quickly and we spent the last part of the night speaking about intentions and goals for the fortnight ahead. We were able to discuss problems and solutions and some great advice was given for any troubles people were having. The great aspect of the night was the ethic of the group with discipline. Everyone remained supportive and strict with proper technique. We all commented on how we would look forward to upcoming support groups and how responsibility was to be shared around by all involved.

The great aspect of the night was the ethic of the group with discipline

A funny group hug with a costal breath ended the night on great note and as we walked out from the church we all felt blessed to be there. After being 'on the job', it was now Engadine Support Group's time to get some sleep.

8 more sleeps to the next one.

Rick Nelson