Heart Breaths, Encounter Groups and MTV’s If You Really Knew Me

I remember the first time I did heart breaths. It was back in the 1970’s in a group encounter session. We all sat in a circle and paired with the person next to us. We faced each other, chairs a little offset, my right hand over her heart, her right hand over mine. Left hands over right hands. Then we gazed into each other’s eyes silently for four minutes, breathing together. It was very powerful. I’ve also done this alone, hand over my own heart, gazing into my eyes in the mirror.

I’m glad that encounter groups, no matter what you call them – sensitivity training, team building training, leadership training – are becoming more mainstream and popular, especially with kids and young adults.  MTV has a new reality show called If You Really Knew Me.  The pitch reads: In high school, there are the students who rule the school — like jocks, cheerleaders, and the popular kids — and the ones who get picked on — like nerds, emos, and outcasts. That’s just high school, right? But what if you could change that?

Like a reality version of The Breakfast Club, each episode of If You Really Knew Me takes place at a different high school, and follows several students from different cliques as they go through the life-changing experience of Challenge Day, a one-day program that breaks down the walls between cliques, and completely changes the way students view their school and each other. Watch the amazing transformation each week as new students open up for the first time and try to change by revealing who they really are, behind the cliques and the labels. Is it possible to change your life, and maybe even your high school, in one day? These students are going to find out… on If You Really Knew Me.

The Challenge Day Vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated.  Their Mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.  In the 60’s and 70’s we called these encounter sessions.

When you encounter and interact with another person, one on one, face to face, putting all differences aside and relating only to what commonalities you share, your relationship with that person changes.  When you go through a series of trust exercises with them, honestly answering questions about what you think and feel and believe, you become aware that you are more alike than you thought.

We all go through the stages of feeling separate and apart from everyone else, we feel socially awkward and think we’re the only one who feels like that.  The school years are famous for that but once we begin interacting with more people, we begin to see that we are all basically very much the same.

This is a show I look forward to seeing.

RELATED: MTV Features Real Teens, Real Problems in New Series

MTV’s If You Really Knew Me – Can You Take The Challenge?

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