From thinking about writing, to occasional writing, to a regular writing practice - an emotional day filled with family, love, inspiration, and truth.
I have always liked the idea of keeping a journal, or doing a bit of spontaneous writing, and even though I have dabbled in it here and there, I’ve never really kept it up or stuck at it long enough to make it part of my daily, or even weekly, routine. I’m also a bit of a worrier, worrying about all manner of things since childhood, have relatively high anxiety levels, and often experience broken or poor sleep due to cycles of thoughts whirring around in my head. That being so, I have always thought that writing down what goes on in there, as a way to just let it all out on the page, may be a really useful way to free myself up a bit, but again have never really got into it the way I have would have liked – too busy, not enough hours in the day, something more important to be getting on with (like worrying, perhaps).
So when my Mum sent me an email to a link for a females’ restorative yoga and writing workshop down in Kent, and suggested I book on, I jumped at the chance! One of my biggest passions, yoga, and the chance to experience writing on a different level – what could be better! Now I know my Mum and I are very similar, scarily so, and it took a bit of persuading, but eventually I got her booked on too! Yoga, writing, and spending a whole day with my Mum – now I was excited! I wasn’t too sure what to expect, whether it was going to be focussed on creative writing, or journal writing, but I was up for anything, I just wanted to get those juices flowing.
We arrived on a rainy Saturday morning to a beautiful studio in Canterbury, welcomed by a bunch of lovely ladies, and a gorgeous spread of vegetarian fare for our lunch. Everyone had to bring a vegetarian dish to share with the rest of the group, and each lady arriving with a smile on her face and her chosen dish, started the day off perfectly, like a big warm comforting hug. We settled ourselves down onto blankets and bolsters and began. Claire, our guide for the day, began to introduce herself and the workshop, beautifully named ‘Women’s Stories’, and I immediately knew the afternoon was going to be inspiring and powerful; she had one of the softest and most nurturing voices I had ever heard.
One of the things I found most powerful about the workshop was the sense of safety and respect - we didn’t have to go around and introduce ourselves one by one, we didn’t have to speak out load to the rest of the group if we didn’t want to, and we didn’t have to read our writing out in front of everybody, things that if I'm honest, I sometimes find challenging about workshops – this was a day that was truly meant for ourselves, and something that I desperately needed.
Our writing exercises were split throughout the day and one task led perfectly to the other. Claire offered one key word or sentence to the group, and then we were encouraged to write continuously, and fast, for 5 minutes, about whatever that word or sentence had ignited within us. No attention to grammar, spelling, mistakes, or how our writing looked – essentially no judgment and no questioning – just writing our truth. I thought, ‘Oh seriously, 5 minutes! How am I going to write continuously for that long? I’m going to have nothing to write about!” And because I am your classic worrier with a sprinkling of OCD, I like everything to look neat, pretty, and perfect on the page, definitely no time for grammatical errors, and mistakes usually meaning starting from scratch. “Even though this is going to be a challenge, I like a good challenge”, I thought. Admittedly, although the words in the first writing task didn’t flow so naturally, it got easier and more fluid with each one. I was writing 2-3 pages by the last task, and when the time was up, I still could have gone on writing. I absolutely loved it! And I felt that things were freeing up inside me, I was physically and mentally feeling relief, and I even spoke out a couple of times (optionally) to the group – very uncharacteristic of me.
We finished the workshop with one final writing exercise, which for me, really underpinned the whole experience of the day, and which released a whole tonne of emotions, feelings, and junk, as I like to call it. We were guided to write about what we wanted people to know about who we were. And there it all flowed out…flowed and flowed. We then got into partners, someone we didn’t know, sat opposite one another, and took it in turns to read out what we had written, either aloud, or silently. While one of us was reading, the other sat with eyes closed, one hand on heart, and just listened. I chose to read what I had written silently, but even though there were no spoken words, my silent reading, with full emotion and intent behind it, reached my partner wholly and powerfully, and I know she listened to and heard every word. The sense of love and gratitude around the room was immense and incredibly touching.
I learnt so much from this special afternoon, and am so grateful to have been able to spend 6 hours with such amazing, inspirational women, and even though a daily writing practice is still yet to come, I have most definitely kept it up – every time I feel something from inside me come up to the surface, or I experience something that creates feelings, emotions, questions, or a trail of thinking, I get it all out onto the page as quickly as possible – and the sense of relief and freeing myself up is amazing! I know that writing will always be with me, whether it’s daily journaling, or sporadic outpourings, as this creative outlet for my anxieties, unspoken words, and truths, is personally such a positive form of therapy, and one that I actually enjoy!
To have shared this experience with my amazing, beautiful Mum, just makes it an even more extra special and heartfelt day, and I am so grateful that she encouraged me to attend – she knows me too well!
If you are interested in getting your creative juices flowing, please check out Claire’s website for more information about upcoming workshops, classes, and retreats – I cannot recommend her highly enough!