Author: Nuala Dent
This blog is a reflection on a holiday experience of noticing and questioning mental boundaries, and how this relates to group relations conferences.
It takes time to relax into a holiday, to let go of the frantic pace of daily life and to just be. It usually happens to me on about day three. And, on my recent holiday this was no different. I was in Fiji, the weather was warm, the people friendly and welcoming. And their mantra “Fiji time. No hurry. No worry.” lulled me into a sense of feeling there was an abundance of time, and an acceptance that things would happen at their own place. In an uncanny way, my watch battery stopped the day after I arrived, and added to the experience of timelessness.
I felt present to my holiday experience, living in the moment, not worrying about work or family or the broader context. Instead, enjoying and noticing with curiosity and wonder my different environment. It was languorous and peaceful. And then, I opened the news app on my phone. The first three headlines were: Shinzo Abe shot; Boris Johnston resigned; Mumbai floods. Not only was the news shocking but, in that moment, I felt shocked, untethered from the external world in such a short time, as though I had been living in a bubble. It prompted me to reflect on the fact that I had chosen a resort holiday, something I have never done before, to escape from the world – the pandemic, the war, the impact of climate change. While a way of safe-guarding my holiday, the experience of shock led me to question the rigid boundary I had unwittingly erected, and an understanding that the I needed to allow it to be more porous. For the remainder of my holiday, I found ways to think about and engage in life beyond the resort, letting the outside in. And on my return home, to let the inside out, I find myself bringing the holiday experience of ‘acceptance of what is’ and 'unhurried-ness' to my daily routine.
The concept of boundaries and letting the outside in and inside out have resonance for me when I think of group relations conferences. By this I mean that they are specialised experiential learning environments, removed from everyday life. They are designed to provide a safe space for participants to learn about themselves in relation to others and, in particular, about leading, relating and managing. My experience of these conferences, as a participant or staff member, has been to put everything aside and be present to and engaged in conference life, just as I had at the resort. The challenge is to be fully engaged in the conference, and not lose sight of what is happening elsewhere.
If you are interested in noticing and questioning mental boundaries, bursting ‘bubbles’ to let the outside in, and the inside out, I encourage you to join us at the 2022 Group Relations Australia conference – The history of now: creating meaning (in the present moment).