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Date: 01/01/2014
  • Practices
  • Grounding in Gratitude
  • Emerging Facilitators
  • Facilitators

Open Sentences on Gratitude

from chapter 6 of Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown; second edition, published 2014. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices.


Time: 30 minutes

Open Sentences is a structure for spontaneous expression. It helps people listen with rare receptivity as well as speak their thoughts and feelings frankly. People sit in pairs, face to face and close enough to attend to each other fully. They refrain from speaking until the practice begins. One is Partner A, the other Partner B — this can be determined quickly by asking them to tap each other on the knee; the one who tapped first is A. When guide speaks each unfinished sentence, A repeats it, completes it in his own words, addressing Partner B, and keeps on talking spontaneously for the time allotted. The partners can switch roles after each open sentence or at the end of the series. The listening partner — and this is to be emphasized — keeps silent, saying absolutely nothing and hearing as attentively and supportively as possible.

For the completion of each open sentence allow a couple of minutes or so. Give a brief warning each time before it is time to move on, saying “take a minute to finish up,” or “thank you.” A small bell can then bring people to silence, where they rest a few seconds before the next open sentence.



This is a highly pleasurable activity, and you may want to invent your own open sentences. Or pick from these favorites of ours (#5 always comes last):

  1. Some things I love about being alive in Earth are …
  2. A place that was magical (or wonderful) to me as a child was …
  3. A person who helped me believe in myself is or was … 
  4. Some things I enjoy doing and making are …
  5. Some things I appreciate about myself are …


Additional Resources 

Joanna Macy Introducing Open Sentences:


Open Sentences from Work That Reconnects on Vimeo.

Contributor/Author: Joanna Macy & Molly Brown