Poland, 8-12 October.
I’m excited to share with you in more details photos and my feedback from the retreat "Conscious woman", which took place in Poland this fall. We chose a cool location for this event thanks to @esencjablog.pl and @conscioustraveler. This part of Poland is called Biala Gora, where we found an amazingly beautiful pine forest, open and active sea, sand dunes, a huge deserted beach and silence. For me, this retreat was a fairly new experience, since the participants were only from Poland and during the workshops they often switched from English to Polish. I understand Polish but I replied anyway in English.
I know it is sometimes much easier to share in your own language, especially when it comes to deeper topics. I once again clearly understood for myself that the most important thing is not to freeze at such moments and try to show that you know and understand everything, but be dynamic and flexible. Ask questions if you don't understand something, laugh at your own mistakes, be in the flow and try not to control every little thing, trusting the process and space.
With my perfectionism and how well I can devalue my own hard work, I often don't see that everything goes well. I leaned that I need to stop myself and focus on good things that worked out, appreciate my work and not overwhelm myself with too high standards. It's funny when you expect that most likely somewhere you will screw up, but this does not ever happen.
I was super happy that everything went well and that many people sincerely shared and realised their feelings, desires, needs. This is very valuable.
What did I do at the retreat?
1. Art therapy
I combined the work of an art therapy constructor (in the photo below) with the mandala method. I bought the construction set a long time ago from professor and psychotherapist Kopytin in St. Petersburg and still use it, now based on the principles of gestalt therapy. This time we worked with the topic “the world of my feelings”.
I really like art therapy, because it works with something that does not lie on the surface, with emotions that can be suppressed and not at all conscious, and during the workshop you can see deeper and get important insights. By the way, important realisations often come later, after the end of the session.
Art therapy activate the right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for imaginative thinking. It processes information spatially, holistically and visually. This means that it sees an object from multiple angles at the same time, thinks about the whole and makes connections - physical, emotional, intuitive. Art therapy has powerful therapeutic effect especially when you are stressed, anxious, angry, lonely, tired, scared.
2. Lecture about anxiousness and how to deal with it
I think since childhood, there has been such a set up in my head that the world is a danger, and already at the age of 18 I was looking for ways to cope with anxiety. When I was 18 I didn't understand that I block myself in so many ways, that one day out of the blue I had my first panic attack. I’m really happy that I worked it out and I haven’t had such mental states for 12 years already. It was very scary for a while even to use the public transportation because I felt not comfortable in the crowd. I know so many people who stopped flying, taking metro, go to concerts and so on after panic attacks.
Then my deep interest in meditation and scanning my body began. I then tried various relaxation techniques. When I fly in an airplane I sometimes do Jacobson relaxation and my favourite technique (inhalation 2 seconds and exhalation 7 seconds). There is nothing complicated, but somehow it helps. Sometimes your fears can't completely disappear but can be under control.
Anxiety is a kind of a blocked excitement. When I say excitement I mean an impulse to action, impulse to any experience. The moment you try to block the excitement that has arisen, it interferes with the satisfaction of some needs. For example, you wanted to do something and did not. By the way, you can easily ignore your needs.
If you often use this method of interrupting contact with the outside world, then anxiety accumulates and becomes completely unconscious.
What can help if you are anxious:
- breathing techniques (helps to investigate how you stop a full exhalation with various structures of muscle tension).
- any muscle activity in case of anxiety is an excellent solution. Going for a run, going to the pool, doing yoga or doing a body scan for potential stresses, EMDR techniques are also very cool and help with anxiety and fear.
-work with the restoration of contact with the environment
-moving your anxiety into excitement and finding such ways to satisfy the needs that caused this excitement, which are safe for other body functions (helps to complete uncompleted gestalts)
3. Techniques of relaxation
My favourite techniques are related to meditation and dance. By dance, I mean rather dynamic meditation.
Dynamic meditation is when you dance in space with other people or alone at home, but not in a way that is beautiful, but in the way your body wants to move. For this, of course, I use special music. I love Gabrielle Roth for example.
Surprisingly, your body may want to move in very different ways. These can be repetitive movements throughout the entire hour. You can feel the urge to crawl, the urge to shake your arms or legs, shake your head, or just hang upside down and move. It is very cool to observe your body and it is possible to detect tension and blockages in some parts of the body. It is possible to see that the body wants to constantly move in the same way and this can also tell about the peculiarities of your body.
The group process is even cooler. There you can observe yourself in space with other people. How do you feel when you move, how do you feel in space?
Do you want to hide in a corner, get out of the circle and dance separately, do you want to move in the center and somehow interact with others. Can you completely immerse yourself and not notice what is happening around?
In the strict sense of the word, dance movement therapy is "a type of psychotherapy that uses movement to develop a person's social, cognitive, emotional and physical life."
American dance therapy is based mainly on a psychoanalytic approach, although, unlike many other types of therapy, it can use models of Jung's depth psychology, gestalt therapy and other areas of psychology.
Since I am engaged in gestalt therapy, for me any technique, whether art therapy, or dynamic meditation, or others, will be based on the principles of gestalt: lack of interpretations, expanding the zone of awareness and focusing on the present moment, relevance of experiences, taking responsibility for what is happening to you, expressing your emotions.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this wonderful retreat. Thanks to everyone who trusted the process and space.