Closed-Eye Group Process | Training For Change

Closed-Eye Group Process


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Training for Social Action Trainers


Training Tool

We're rapidly scaling up our online training to meet movement needs in this moment. 


Here’s an alternative to lecturing about a topic when you want important information to be transmitted: have people find their own successful experience! This tool uses individual work, small groups and then large group to help the group access its own wisdom about a particular topic (you decide the topic based on the elicitive questions you use: fundraising, carrying out a successful protest, leading a group, overcoming a challenge).

Some assumptions:

  • It is validating and empowering to learn from our own experience
  • Most people can remember a positive experience from their own lives and use it
  • The learning becomes reinforced by sharing it with others
  • The learning becomes reinforced by being put in a larger framework

How to Lead

Can be lead with a small group or with the whole group


a. Explain what it will be (Include diagnostic question “How many of you . . .”)
b. Form sharing groups (3-4 in a group, maybe 5)
c. Ask groups to decide who will share first, second, third . . .
d. Relaxation (deep breathing, letting go of tension in body)
e. “I invite you to remember a time when . . . .” “If you’re remembering more than one time like that, choose one for this exercise”
f. “Bring it as vividly to mind as possible” (use eye channel, ear channel, body/movement, feelings/emotions)
g. The punch line. For example, “What qualities or characteristics inside you enabled you to do that” “What lessons did you draw from that experience for your own learning?”


Walk them through this, announcing amount of time per person. The larger the workshop, the more important to be formal and insistent on this. (It may not be culturally appropriate to walk them through individual time limits; in that case, tell them how much total group time they have and announce “You’ve used one-third of your time,” “You’ve used two-thirds of your time.”)


Use newsprint to “harvest” from individuals. It may be necessary to say that we don’t need agreement at this point; the main thing is that there’s a chance for individuals to put forward their perspective.

Note that this is a good chance for the facilitator to frame (put a context around) the material, in order to anchor it more securely for learning. Whenever possible, connect people’s comments to general principles, or to emerging themes in the workshop. A brief story or anecdote may work well here. Often it’s possible to describe briefly a resource, like a book or an article or a hand-out. In conclusion, be sure to invite people to study the list, for memory or even for fresh generalizations/principles.

How to Use Online

A guided visualization activity can work well online.  When leading the group through the closed eye portion, it’s helpful to take some time at the start to guide people through getting connected with their bodies, as working at a computer or device we sometimes get more disconnected.  You can also offer people the option to turn off their web camera or change their position to get more comfortable wherever they are. Recognize that people will be impacted by their physical surroundings and may have different experiences (for example some may be connecting from home, a shared office, outside, or a public place).

After doing the closed eye portion, you can put participants into online breakout rooms to discuss.  You can use messaging features in your software to send alerts about when groups should change who is sharing.

For your whole group sharing, you can scribe the list on a slide using screen-share, or invite participants to add to a brainstorm document directly and anonymously, using a shared document like a Google slide or the annotation feature in your software.