We had a long standing friend of the group with us today, Geoffrey Baines; dream whisperer, blogger and doodler! Geoffrey started the session with a very relaxing breathing exercise which was much appreciated and put people into a very chilled state for a new concept to us; mindful doodling. The picture also has a very gentle thought journey and it was a bit of a discovery for some people in the group that by using one part of the brain to focus on colour and shapes and creativity, it allows the mind to stay focused on a particular thought process. Some people also found that where they might normally not feel very confident about anything creative, because this was part of another process, they found they weren’t worried so much about the art and felt a bit freer. People experienced that they became fully absorbed in the activity and found it very relaxing, some people chose not to follow the thought process and enjoyed the relaxation of colouring. At the end of this mindful colouring, Geoffrey asked us how long we thought we’d been colouring and in general the group though it was 40 or 45 minutes. In fact it was 15 minutes, showing us that this type of process slows us down, actually allowing us to properly progress a thought process rather than being heightened and stressed and ruminating, states in which our thoughts don’t help us to achieve resolution. At the beginning of the session Geoffrey spoke about how through these mindful thought processes we might discover what we want, and our potential and discover the best version of ourselves and our giftings and to come to ourselves with kindness and a non-judgemental attitude. As Geoffrey says in his own blog, Thin Silence
“…Every day, though, we have the opportunity to develop and contribute who we are and what we do.
This is how we are able to find and live in meaning.
It isn’t this way for everyone yet, by any means.
What better thing then can we live for but to spread the word, encouraging and enabling as many as possible to bring more to the party than others expect?”
If you are interested in some mindful doodling and acquiring a book, there is more information here:
Slow Journeys in the Same Direction
Occasionally in the group it’s requested to have a more relaxed session doing a creative activity, especially after some sessions which although very beneficial can be quite emotional and challenging as we work on some difficult things. Today was just such a day. We are hopefully approaching the end of our very long winter this year in Scotland…even the daffodils the group planted in November have not yet flowered, though there are buds so we are hopeful for some cheerful yellow flowers trumpeting the arrival of spring for next week! Accompanying this long winter it feels like people have been struggling a bit longer with colds and flu and various wintry infections, so again we celebrate some warmer weather on the way to increase our immune systems!
We had a bit of a free art session today with a bit of a focus on messages of kindness to self and others. We had a mixture of making kindness elves, angels, fairies, bunnies and cards to carry these messages:
Not everyone feels comfortable or able with creative activities, but we talked about the many different ways to be creative, some people can sit and paint, draw or craft an item, but creativity is anything which absorbs you and occupies your mind as you engage with it, be that getting involved with colours, fabrics, sounds, smells, ingredients and cooking, shapes, dance shapes, words, taking photographs, numbers or perhaps it is in the way of organising admin systems or furniture and being creative with how you use spaces or an abstract way of appreciating a landscape, or how you organise a party! What’s important is that we find a way to express ourselves, and it may only need be for us, expressed emotions are healthier than suppressed emotions. Some people in the group discussed how they wouldn’t do a creative activity alone but in a group setting because of the relaxed atmosphere allowing a gentle way of talking about things it could be therapeutic.
Everyone in the group created something for themselves or for another, with reminders of how to be kind. This could be positive encouragement and hope, reminders of what is possible, reminders to look at difficulties from different angles, messages to let people know they are being thought of, and plans to show kindness through baking cake. (Yum!) And reminders that we are all growing, we’ve all changed something and there is an aspect of our life that we have learned to do better than we used to.
Today at the group we returned to a popular group topic ‘music’. We have mentioned many times in the past how music can provide an outlet for our emotions. We wanted to do something a wee bit different this time by focussing on four different emotions and the music pieces people felt appropriate to that emotion. Below is an example;
From the songs that make us happy, to the songs that make us sad people realised that indeed some songs could easily overlap into the other categories depending on how they felt. Most people had quite eclectic tastes which was fascinating to see. This proved to be an emotional experience for all concerned! Below are some songs that were chosen;
Today we asked group members to write a letter to their younger-self. We were very aware of the emotions that this could bring up for people. The benefit in doing this is that it can help us to develop more self-compassion. This can be really useful for people who attach self-criticism to themselves for things happened in the past. We did not want this to excercise to be a ‘If only I knew then what I know now’ type. It was to focus on a challenging time from your life. When we feel anxious we more often than not go into ‘child’ mode and feel fear which can then manifest itself into irrational thoughts. We all have the inner ‘child’ but we must learn to love it and comfort it just like we would any other child.
In our younger years we deal with life through the viewpoint of our learned experiences. Due to not having a lot of life experience we can grow up blaming ourselves for the way we handled situations but forget that we were only working with what we knew at the time. Sadly people who have been the victims of abuse can often incorrectly attach the blame to themselves and somehow believe they deserved it. It’s worth remembering that nobody can possibly know what it’s like to walk in your shoes and deal with the challenges encountered.
By the end of the exercise we all felt quite emotional but immensely touched by the bravery shown by all involved. Being in ‘adult’ mode had allowed people to show more compassion for their inner child and gave the opportunity to look from the outside-in to see things a bit more objectively.