This week as part of mental health awareness week I delivered a daily lunch time workshop honouring the principle of Kindness (The chosen theme for the Mental Health Foundations annual campaign)
A simple concept of bringing people together (virtually as we have come to expect). Using the principles and power of storytelling, sharing and connection to make a place for kindness.
The event's title, came not just from the fact that I was indeed delivering the workshop from my cupboard under the stairs (or den as it's coming to be known) but also from the thought that we all have kindness in a metaphorical cupboard somewhere and it's a really simple and lovely process just to "pop in" and have a slice when we can.
Themes that resonated from the event included how our current circumstances had allowed us to see kindness in new ways. Many who attended talked of a sense of community and coming together and others talked about the value of kindness for our selves and in hope for others.
Unlike many stories which reflect on past-times. The stories forged in the workshops were present, in the moment experiences that participants said left them feeling "lovely" & "energised" and full of kindness and appreciation. (Me too!)
The process of story telling in itself is a sharing and gifting experience, where the Teller shares and the Listener does nothing more than receive.
The workshop touched on "Meaning" and how story telling is a process of collaborating "A relationship that co-produces meaning" (Drumm, M). Storytelling requires no analysis in this setting and each person has space and permission to mould and shape meaning through our unique and deeply personal experiences (as both listener and teller).
At the start I asked attendees just to check they were still breathing, a little reminder that we are not always consciously attuned to our breath and the here and now. Next we explored How we were breathing, whether from a place of anxiety or anticipation or from a deep and long moment of calm.
Next, a " check- one- two" - just like the tapping on the microphone at the start of a soundcheck. Inviting people to identify two emotions they came to find themselves in that moment.
For some this is a deeply therapeutic question (How am I feeling?) and might remind you that you need to take more immediate actions for self-care and kindness.
For others you may find it helps you connect with the joy and calm of just taking time out for yourself.
In a time when we could feel lonely, busy, or confused. Live alone or be navigating an unusually busy household for space or attempting to tread water against work/life balance. Many people made bold steps in just showing up, being kind to themselves and other in the process.
Kindness is a ripple effect, people know it and seek it. It's exquisitely personal in experience and yet holds a familiar common ground. It can be a moral compass to help us find the things we need and value most in life, like happiness, connection and even help.
The action of sharing & giving kindness is fabulous and amazing. It cultivates community.
Remember though, to always leave a good portion of #kindness for yourself!
You can find the slides from the workshop in the link below.
Photo from Unsplash - Dayne Topkin