The pursuit of calm and tranquility is my theme for today’s post. Mindful of a pending engagement to deliver workshops to a parent support group, Guideposts – http://www.guidepoststrust.org.uk/ – on the subject and art of Keeping Sane, I am pondering how best my time with a small group of parents and carers of children with special educational needs, may be spent.
I devised a workshop entitled Keeping Sane, some two years ago, specifcally for the needs of those adults, carers and grandparents of children with SEN. For many of the target audience, life can seem a perpetual challenge, filled with frustration, doubt, insecurity, and the huge emotional demand of being a carer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I have delivered the workshop now in a variety of settings and locations, but still, there is always something new to learn, something new to consider in how the group dynamics may be managed, how the morning session can fulfil its stated goals – of creating strategies for keeping sane, in times of turmoil and challenge.
I am listening to Satie’s Gymnopedies, piano music I love and have admired for many years. I shall be opening my workshop to a backdrop of Gymnopedies 1,2 & 3, music that is calming, lingering, light.
In November 2012, I delivered the workshop at a Warwickshire venue to a group of parents and carers, many of whom had arrived at the venue filled already with a myriad grievances from the start of the day, the evening before, or in anticipation of what was to c0me that afternoon. Some, in a hurry not to be late, were in that agitated state of mind where worries abound, and the mind is not still.
My thoughts today are on how the opening moments of the workshop may inspire a calm and reflective response to the morning’s discussions and activities, so that thoughts may flow more freely, amongst the group, and ideas and strategies discussed, may begin to settle and take seed.
In creating an opening sequence of music, and time to read the initial outline of the morning’s activities, I hope there may be a few moments of calm, for minds to be still and responsive so that discussions within the group may be positive, supportive and considered.
In all things, we do best when we are cognisant that in a learning context we need to open our minds to be able to –
- Listen – actively and attentively not just to what is being said, but to the mood of the moment
- Reflect – on what is being said, what is under discussion, how this relates to one’s own world
- Filter – what is on one’s mind, what is relevant to the context, what is unnecessary
- Respond – in a way that is positive, that does not drain energy from the room but energises
Precious is the time we have to really consider what is going on in our lives, what is causing us stress or distress, what are the factors influencing our behaviour, our moods, our relationships, our peace of mind and quality of life.
I am looking forward to the next session of Keeping Sane and grateful for the insight and support of Guideposts for allowing these workshops an airing. They are rewarding events, not least for the insight each gives to the struggles and challenges many families face, and to the on-going needs that present. Overwhelmingly, the need for carers to be understood, to be listened to, to feel that one’s life and present situation matters to someone else, dominates the mood agenda.