By Karen Spiak
Have you ever heard of the concept of “stream of consciousness” writing? It’s a method of narration that
is a special form of interior monologue that mirrors the half thoughts, impressions, and associations of the writer. Tom, New Life’s Support Director and Enneagram Therapist, created a new workshop around this method. He explains: “Whatever comes up, write it down. While in ‘stream of consciousness’ we get insights into our subconscious, our innate wisdom. It can introduce us to the things we need to learn.”
Workshops at New Life provide a backbone for communication on a daily basis and are designed primarily by life coaches and sometimes by community members. They span a variety of topics and modalities to aid recovery of any kind. They offer a rich learning space that encourages expression in connecting with and supporting each other as well as nurturing our self-development.
Some of us do find it easier to express ourselves through writing as opposed to speaking. “People are able to turn inwards more easily when writing and can focus on content instead of delivery.” What usually happens in conversation is people start asking themselves: Does this person like me? Are they interested in what I’m saying? Why did they have that facial expression when I said that? These dynamics often take the focus away from the message you want to deliver. Also, the relation to that person, your personal comfort level in speaking, the setting, and your current state of mind can result in a conversation straying from the original intent. “When we write we don’t have to take all this in account and it’s easier to actually listen to our own thoughts and emotions.”
The seeds of inspiration
Finding inspiration to create a new workshop that appeals to a diverse group of individuals can be a daunting task. Tom told us, “Writing is an area I’m exploring myself at the moment, I’ve started to recognize the potential of writing exercises in helping people get closer to themselves. When creating a new workshop, I am drawn to areas that I am personally interested in or help me in my own development. I find inspiration in books, lectures, retreats and conversations. Also, I note what supports the people I work with on a daily basis.”
I recently attended Tom’s “stream of consciousness” workshop and found it immensely helpful in tapping easily into sources that previously had been hard to access. The workshop consisted of a series of personal questions followed by written responses timed at different lengths. “My goal was to ask the right questions, not expecting the group to have the right answers.” Once a question was given, the participants were instructed to recite it like a mantra, then write down whatever came to their minds. Writing each response touched a different part of myself, the answers produced seemed to be written by multiple people. I found it fascinating to hear from various parts of my core, to experience the many facets and personalities that were all inside of me.
Sharing our inner journeys and bonding together
It can be difficult to imagine the outcome and success of any workshop, so how does one gauge it’s success? Tom shared with us, “I base it on the reactions and feedback I get from the participants. In the days following the workshop, I received a lot of positive feedback.”
At the end of the writing exercise the group formed a sharing circle. We were asked to not speak about the content we wrote but rather our experiences with the practice. I was intrigued to hear similar feedback that mirrored my own. There seemed to be a buzz in the air as each person spoke about the inner journeys the exercise allowed. Even though it was performed individually, there was a sense of community in sharing our thoughts and experiences among the group. It was a great opportunity to work within ourselves and support each other in community at the same time.
To learn more about workshops at New Life visit our website.