Monday, May 10, 2010

Recovery Through Discovery: A Workshop

One of the necessary evils of being a certified counselor is the requirement to maintain continuing education credits, or CEUs. For my particular discipline, I need 40 hours every two years and my reporting period is coming up this December. Most of the classes that are offered are pretty generic and run of the mill, so when I saw an advertisement for Recovery Through Discovery with this description, I jumped on it!

Come join us May 5th, from 9-5 pm for a day workshop in a serene wooded setting in Alpine, Oregon. You will be instructed in gentle ancient Yogic methods for relaxation. Learn simple journal writing technics that can bring healing to the body, psyche and soul. Enjoy the soft and calming sounds of the drum, played especially for you by a local musician. Meet our guest speaker: Artist and writer Daniel Balter. Daniel uses drawing and writing together with Insight Meditation to help him maintain sobriety and navigate through grief and personal loss. He will be sharing his story along with his artwork and writings.

So, last Wednesday I set out early in the morning, winding my way through some back highways to reach Alpine, Oregon (east of Corvallis and Eugene for those who live in the Northwest, but wondering where Alpine is located). This was the little lane I turned onto to reach my destination.

The workshop was led by Danette Puhek. Danette has been journal writing for 40 years and has been trained to teach the methods from Journal to the Self by Kathleen Adams. Danette also teaches Hatha, Iyangar yoga in her studio, which was where we met for our day of journal writing. Here are the stairs leading up to the yoga studio, and for our day, art and writing studio.

The studio . . .

To set the tone for the day, these were out surroundings.

Toward the end of our writing time and after lunch, we were treated to drumming by a local musician while we assembled a collage.

Here are our completed collages (and a close up of mine):

My blog post wouldn't be complete without a group photo (looks kinda like a group of old hippies, if you ask me!).

The photo at the top of this blog post is one of Daniel's writing exercises (and obviously embellished). Here's another portion of it (with Daniel's permission to take a photo) - this is an example of clustering, which I explain briefly below.

A couple of friends have asked me about the journal prompts we used. As I mentioned above, Danette was using materials from The Way of the Journal by Kathleen Adams and here are some of the prompts we played around with.

Sentence stems where you complete a thought in response to the beginning of a sentence. Kathleen uses the following examples of sentence stems:
I am a person who . . .
If I had time I would . . .
I am grateful for . . .
Journal writing is . . .

Another tool is five-minute writing sprints (or 10 minutes or 15 . . .) where you write about any topic, non-stop for the designated time.

Clustering was a new technique for me. Kathleen tells us to chose a word or phrase as a topic, write it in the center of a page, then circle it. Using lines and additional circles (like a flow chart or as in diagramming a sentence), spin off from the initial idea with everything that pops into your mind (no censoring or second-guessing allowed). You can even add color to your circles and diagrams.

AlphaPoems was another new tool for me. You choose a topic, a feeling, a person, anything at all, and write the word out in vertical fashion. Then using the first letter on each line, think of a word or a series of words, working your way down the list; you end up with a series of thoughts about that topic or feeling that creates a completed rough form of a poem. Another way to do this is to just write the alphabet vertically on your page and begin filling in words for each letter of the letters of the alphabet. Kathleen suggests starting by writing What's Going On at the top of the page to give you a little direction.

Finally, another technique is Journal Dialogue where you have a back and forth dialogue (in writing) with a person, with your job, with your body . . . again, the possibilities for a dialogue are endless.

If you are interested in getting more information about the exercises we used in Danette's class, check out The Way of the Journal: A Journal Therapy Workbook for Healing by Kathleen Adams.

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