Our community agreements are the foundation of having an environment of trust and safety in all our courses and programs at the Life of Wellness Institute. We know that the work of creating a safe and positive group environment does not lie with the facilitator alone; in fact each community member is critical in creating this space. Each person’s intentions and actions are important and have an impact; collectively these thoughts and actions create the space that the group shares together.
We invite all our students and participants to commit to the following community agreements. These agreements are designed to help us each co-create a space for you, and your peers for healing, connection, and growth. The following is our starting point; if you wish to give feedback or request additional agreements, please contact our Founder.
We affirm each person’s right to privacy. We agree to keep all information shared in the group confidential. This includes names and personal information (e.g. email, phone number, location), as well as anything another group member shares about themselves or others. When in doubt, we agree to ask and obtain permission from the person who shared the information directly. If we are worried another person is in danger, we agree to speak privately with the lead teacher of your program, who will determine the right course of action.
We affirm each person’s right to direct their own life and class experience. In practice, this means that we understand that everything offered in our training is optional and respect others’ right to make their own choices. We understand we have the right to opt out of any activity or discussion, and we don’t pressure or ask other group members to share information or participate in activities if they don’t wish to. We acknowledge and honor each person’s innate capacity to choose and act in accordance with their own best interests.
We affirm each person’s worth and value. We agree to treat everyone in the group with kindness and respect. In practice, this means we speak and act with kindness, integrity, curiosity, and understanding. We do not engage in violence, deception, or manipulation. We consider how our speech and actions may be received by our fellow group members, and work to communicate clearly and without causing harm. If we become aware of harm, we acknowledge the harm directly and seek resolution. In the case of conflict, we speak with the person directly rather than speaking about the incident or person with others. In the case of abuse, please speak directly to your program lead teacher to report the conflict and seek a solution.
We affirm, respect, and honor each person’s diverse experience and expression. In practice, this means we do not engage in discriminatory speech or behavior of any kind; whether based on race/ethnicity, gender identity or expression, age, (dis)ability, or any other aspect of a person’s experience and/or identity. We actively work to understand our own biases and assumptions and recognize that even with the best of intentions we can still do harm. We actively strive to understand harms when they are brought to our attention, make amends when appropriate, and deepen our understanding of our fellow group members’ experience, identity, and expression.
We affirm our responsibility to engage in the group in a sober state of mind. We acknowledge the impact our presence has on others, the sensitivity of the topics at hand, and the need for awareness, care and conscious participation. We agree not to participate in the course while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, illicit drugs, or any substances that may impair our judgment or interfere with our capacity to be fully present with others in the group. This includes legally-prescribed pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. opiates or sedatives) that may interfere with our capacity to make sound judgment and access all our mental faculties.
SAFETY AND STABILITY
We affirm our responsibility to care for our mental health. We recognize the limitations of this organization’s work; namely that it is not equipped to support or treat severe mental health challenges (i.e. psychosis, suicidality, self-harm, etc). We acknowledge that yoga, group discussions, and psychoeducation activities can be more destabilizing than supportive when we’re in the midst of these experiences. We commit to honor and care for ourselves if these experiences arise.
There is no shame in feeling suicidal, disconnected from reality, or self-destructive. These experiences are a valid and even valuable aspect of the human experience, more common than most people believe. But we recognize these experiences deserve great care and attention, and that the right resources at the right time can make all the difference. In practice, this means we are honest if these experiences arise, consider the impact they may have on our participation in the group, and seek appropriate professional treatment. If we can, we make every effort to be honest about what we are experiencing with our facilitator, who may be able to refer us to quality mental health treatment. We understand that the right course of action may be to take a break from the group temporarily. We honor ourselves and our fellow group members enough to make that choice, knowing that we are held by the community and can return to the group when it can be more supportive to our experience.
We affirm our commitment to regular attendance. We recognize that our absence in sessions affects others, as well as ourselves. We understand that a positive group dynamic emerges from relationships, that relationships depend on trust, and that trust can only emerge from consistency and presence. We make every effort to attend the entirety of all sessions of the course, unless extenuating circumstances prevent us from being present. If we are unable to attend a session, we try to notify the lead teacher in advance.
PRESENCE AND ATTENTION
We affirm our responsibility to be fully present in sessions. We understand our attention is a gift we give to our fellow group members, and that phone calls, text messages, and outside distractions can erode the group dynamic. We listen and engage in sessions without distractions. We agree not to use electronic devices during the session unless extenuating circumstances require it. We don’t text, speak on the phone, or otherwise engage in outside conversations during the course sessions. If circumstances require that we use an electronic device during a session, we agree to inform the facilitator ahead of time.