Sometimes we don’t know what we think until we hear what we say.
Creating a safe and supportive environment is key to the experience of our participants, many of whom have suffered various forms of trauma, abuse, neglect, or cruelty.
For that reason, we have developed appropriate guidelines that will ensure a safe environment in which people can speak honestly and openly in a group setting.
How Our Guidelines Were Developed
The four guidelines that govern Quest’s workshops and residential programs were developed almost 40 years ago by Petrea and two of her patients with cancer. Petrea was keen for these two people to meet and, when they first sat down to have a meaningful conversation, they discussed what guidelines would need to be in place for them to feel safe enough to share their innermost thoughts, fears, hopes, and aspirations. These guidelines have never changed, and they’ve certainly stood the test of time!
When we follow the group guidelines, we realise the importance of good intentions in groups. We also realise that people have their own best answers and what they long for is a safe place to explore their options.
“The staff at Quest are so very supportive and understanding. You feel completely safe to explore your inner emotions whilst in their safe surroundings.”– Denise
The Sacred Circle
When the group reaches a certain level of trust, something wonderful happens – there is a kind of group intuition that develops. It’s as if the group becomes a tuning fork for wisdom.
Whatever you call it – collective consciousness, team synergy, or co-intelligence – when individuals come together with a shared intention in a safe environment, we feel the presence of the sacred. There’s a sense of openness and awareness of something larger than each of us as individuals. Our ability to communicate broadens, judgment dissipates, and a great deal of creativity and self-awareness emerges.
When we share our innermost thoughts, we move into a higher level of trust where we can be authentic. People sense that there’s something present of immense value. Sometimes it shows up in an inner experience, either individually or collectively as an “Aha moment!”. Other times, everyone sits in silence because they’re reflecting on what has just been said or revealed. In this sacred circle, we harness the creative power of the collective to resolve our most complex challenges.
“I’ve never experienced such genuine kindness in my life. For the first time, I’ve felt seen and heard. This program gave me something that I saw as impossible”.– Greg
A Rare Experience is Created
We follow the 4 guidelines – confidentiality, attentive listening, no judgement, and staying with our experience rather than theories – because they provide a respectful environment that acknowledges the individual’s capacity to find their own best answer as well as encourage participants’ honesty and authenticity, rather than trying to live up to other peoples’ views or beliefs.
Some participants describe it as dropping their personality and becoming part of a group consciousness where there’s no competition, disagreement, or conflict. Participants experience a deep sense of listening and a heightened awareness. People are real with what’s going on for them and this safe environment provides such relief.
This is a rare experience for many people. When deep listening and non-judgemental acceptance are offered, people often become committed to re-creating the possibility of such encounters in their future.
With these guidelines in place, we create the perfect environment in which we’re able to explore our own creative responses to life’s challenges.
“Quest is a place of loving acceptance, patience, quiet, joy, nourishment and gentle understated humour. I left with replenished energy, practical tools and a commitment to practice meditation daily.”– Alice
The Four Guidelines Explained
These are the 4 guidelines we discuss at the beginning of each program, group or workshop:
The first is confidentiality. We don’t talk about who attends a workshop or program or what’s said there to anyone outside of that environment. Names and stories stay within the environment in which they are shared. Confidentiality creates a safe space where everyone feels personally acknowledged, heard, and valued.
2. Listening 100%
We listen 100% when someone is speaking. That means one person speaks at a time and we really hear what’s being said, rather than listening to our reaction to what is said. If you’re talking about something that’s troubling you and someone thinks your challenge is nothing compared to theirs, then that’s not listening to the person speaking, but being preoccupied with your own anguish. It is not a competition to see who’s suffering the most. Each person’s issues are of importance to them. We give each other a precious gift by listening 100% to the other person. We encourage people to be fully present to the other, rather than manufacturing their response while listening.
3. Not Judging or Criticising
We don’t judge or criticise ourselves or other people. If a person feels miserable, depressed, peaceful, positive, jealous, angry, suicidal, or anxious, we don’t tell them that they shouldn’t feel that way, no matter how deeply confronting. If that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. Having someone say, ‘you shouldn’t feel like that’ is not helpful. Remaining non-judgemental enables people to speak their truth in a safe environment and truly be heard by others with an open heart. People won’t share their unspoken treasures or pain if they feel they’ll be judged.
4. Staying with Feelings
We encourage people to stay with our feelings rather than express theories or beliefs about things. It’s important to stay with our actual life experience rather than describing how we think things should, could, or ought to be – or how our family, society, or anyone else thinks things should be. This allows us to be real about what’s going on for us. It’s through embracing our feelings without judgement that we find a path to peace. People living up to a self-imposed standard that neither resonates with who they are nor how they feel will find peace elusive.
These 4 guidelines provide an opportunity for a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and understanding… something we all crave.
Learn more about Quest for Life’s Residential Programs