AFFINITY GROUP PROCESS

The purpose of the Affinity Group is to give and receive unconditional love, acceptance and support, to create a safe, loving, non-judgmental space
in which we can open our hearts and move through our fears.
  Greater understanding, compassion, respect, and better communication
are all natural outcomes of the Affinity Process.

If you wish to share the Affinity Group Process with others, I suggest that you have all participants purchase this online course and watch the video on their own time.  Then hold a weekly affinity group in person or by telephone and ask each person to share their experience using the guidelines below.  You will find the video below helpful to understand more about how the Affinity Group Process works.

What is an Affinity Group?

An Affinity Group is very different from other groups.  In an Affinity Group, each person is engaged in an intense spiritual process of listening deeply to others and speaking from the heart.  Individual members learn how to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and experiences; they also learn to refrain from taking inappropriate responsibility for the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others. The Affinity Process helps people develop a healthy sense of boundaries.
     The Affinity Group Process is not outcome-oriented. The group does not try to solve problems or reach consensus. It may lead to clarity and consensus, but this is not its purpose. Its purpose is to provide each person with an experience of giving and receiving unconditional love and support.
     The Affinity Process is also an At-one-ment Process. It provides us with a safe place to express our confusion, our pain, our remorse and our judgments so that they are not buried inside us. Because nobody tries to fix us, we learn to hold our own sharing with acceptance and compassion.
     The greatest gift of the Affinity Process is self-acceptance. As we learn to accept all the dichotomous aspects of self, we experience greater wholeness, greater confidence, greater creative freedom. With self-acceptance also comes the capacity to accept others as they are, to respect their experience, and to encourage them to be honest and authentic.   

The Affinity Group Guidelines

1. Remember our Purpose: We are here to love and accept one another, not to judge, analyze, rescue or try to fix one another.

2. We agree to share from our hearts and be honest about what we are thinking and feeling.

3. When our Judgments come up about someone, we will be aware of them and gently bring our attention back to the person speaking.

4. We will not interrupt anyone's process. We will give the person sharing our undivided attention. We will not engage in cross-talk.

5. We will take thirty seconds in silence to acknowledge each person's sharing.

6. We will not monopolize the group's time and attention. We will yield the floor to others in the group who have shared less than we have.

7. We will make "I" Statements, not "You" statements. We will take responsibility for our own experiences and respect the experience of others. We will not assign "our" meaning to something someone else has said.

8. We will not hide our hurt or angry feelings. We will share them honestly, without trying to make others responsible for how we feel.

9. If someone shares a hurt or angry feeling with us, we will acknowledge how s/he feels. We will not defend ourselves or try to justify our words or actions. We will share any feelings that come up for us.

10.  We will stay in the present moment. We will not bring up the past or future, unless they are happening for us here and now.

11.  We will keep everything that is said in the group confidential.

12.  We will honor the silence, knowing that it offers us an opportunity to become more deeply present to ourselves and others.

13.  If we feel that the group is going "off-purpose," we will ask for a moment of silence, during which our group can re-center and remember its purpose.

14.  Remembering that we won't do this process perfectly, we will be gentle with ourselves. We will use whatever transpires in the group as an opportunity to practice forgiveness.

The Group Agreements

1. We agree to honor the purpose of the group.

2. We agree to practice the guidelines.

3. We agree to be on time for every group meeting.

4. We agree to attend every meeting of the group

Paul Ferrini talks about the Affinity Groups in his retreat in Germany in June, 2107