I've just done the Mastery of Self-expression, an intensive weekend workshop for creativity and self-development. It was led by Christine Kimberley, an experienced actor/coach/presenter and draws from techniques used to train actors to express more of themselves and be more authentic in their work. The experience blew me away and I've been talking about it non-stop since. I'm not going to explain the processes involved because they won't make much sense out of context but the combination of exercises, play and group energy is very powerful and facilitates change.
I've been flirting with the idea of doing the workshop for a while - friends have mentioned it so I went along to a taster event to find out more. I was a bit freaked out by the performance aspect (you need to prepare a two-minute piece, which is used as a vehicle during the workshop to help you express yourself). I'm not an actor but I do want to learn how to express myself more authentically, from the heart and to get over those nerves about public speaking so in the spirit of Susan Jeffers' Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, I signed up. I was curious to find out how it could help my writing and desire to run workshops and salons on female sexuality, which is something I want to develop.
The weekend is a blank canvas so an opportunity to assess where you are and where you want to be, with the aim of bridging that gap. You will find out what holds you back and where you stop yourself. It also gives you a toolkit to help you cope with situations that might arise. I went into it as an individual focusing on my own dramas and I came out feeling supported by a group and in a more cohesive frame of mind. I learned that creativity is something that happens 'out there' between you and others rather than something that is locked inside, waiting to be released. We are naturally creative and we can choose whether to turn it on/off during the day.
Presenting something from your heart and gaining feedback and support on it is a powerful experience and one that stays ingrained in your muscle memory. So, when you come to do it again your body will remember the experience and won't be phased by it. It's about practice and it becomes more natural the more you do it.
Throughout the weekend I got several opportunities to 'do myself differently', which was freeing and exhilarating. It's fun to work with a group to create something spontaneously and it made me realise I need to surrender and have more fun! Life can be a schedule of routines and I have various hats on so this realisation was important. I miss the freedom and joy of dancing so this is something I will make time for. How often do we give ourselves permission to play without agenda, as we did as children? Not often enough and it's a vehicle for creativity.
I met some amazing people and it was a privilege to share their journey, hear their stories, and see them blossom as the weekend progressed. By Sunday evening I felt a massive shift in my perspective and energy levels. One of my goals (and this was reiterated by others) was a desire to feel bigger in the world and get myself out there with the work I'm doing. I experienced that feeling and it's stayed with me since. I am fired up, open to opportunity and possibility, living in the moment and being more present. There's less procrastination and guilt around money for a start. I have let go of the anxiety around that and am working on abundance and gratitude for what I do have.
I'm operating from the heart and keeping my emotions flowing - be it love, anger or need. I don't want to block or repress my feelings because I know doing so has a negative impact on my physical health. I have had joint pain and arthritis for the past seven months and the physical release of emotion has improved my health. The mind-body connection is powerful so from that perspective the workshop gave me a physical detox as well as a mental one. I have found it easy to connect with people on a day-to-day level and am experiencing a sense of flow with my work, which is joyful.
Coming back to my worries around 'presenting,' I learned over the weekend that it's not about acting or pretending to be someone else but about expressing yourself from the heart with feeling. That's what inspires and moves people. That simplifies things and takes the pressure off I think. Watching people do this naturally and letting their defences down was inspiring and emotional. Christine is a natural and intuitive coach and knows instinctively how to get the best out of people.
By Sunday evening there was a big shift in the group energy. We were working as a team to nurture and support each other and I saw people blossom. I forged some strong emotional connections from the shared experience, which will stay with me forever and I know those people will be a continued support in the work I am doing.
Two weeks on, I feel clearer, focused, open and in touch with my emotions. I've come to terms with my anger and learned how to express it constructively rather than bottling it up. I am connecting well with others and have had several ideas about how to take my business forward. My health is better and I will continue working on that. I have taken the pressure off myself and am being less self-critical and kinder to myself. I am more present in my relationships and this has improved things between me and my daughter. Most of the time the dramas and tantrums are about wanting my undivided attention. Several people have told me I look great so I can see that people are attracted to my openness and energy.
The Mastery has had an impact on me on various levels - personally and professionally. I consider it a gift to myself and it has given me some practical tools to cope with whatever life brings up. I feel less anxious and have gained a sense of security in where I am and what I am doing. The workshop is an investment in yourself and I recommend it if you want to step things up a gear and work on whatever is holding you back.
Christine Kimberley runs taster evenings of The Mastery in Hastings and Eastbourne. Contact www.christinekimberley.com and www.hastingsmastery.org.uk. The next weekend workshop is March 15th-17th 2013.
On the Edge, an anthology of Mastery leaders worldwide, compiled by Christine, is available to buy from her website.
Photo: Clive Gross Photography