A new member to Lapidus International is running workshops in reflective writing for wellbeing in Hampshire. Jo Bisseker Barr, who has been a counsellor for the past 20 years, started a new venture, ‘Write your Mind’ earlier this year, and runs day workshops from her tranquil period home set in peaceful gardens in Lyndhurst in the middle of the New Forest.
Participants are free to wander around the garden in warmer weather and find a spot to do some of the set exercises - and home-made refreshments, including sourdough bread for lunch, and afternoon tea and cake are all part of the experience.
‘I had a sudden epiphany when reading about writing for wellbeing in a therapy magazine one day. I’d never come across it before, and it suddenly seemed as if I could combine my two key passions – writing and my therapeutic knowledge, under one hat! I’d lie at night buzzing with ideas and constantly having to switch the light on and scribble down notes. An unexpected off-shoot has been writing articles on the subject for magazines as a way of marketing myself and spreading the word, which I’ve really enjoyed. I was most anxious about having no-one sign up for the workshops but they’ve so far proved a success. And the adage of ‘the more you write, the more you write’ has proved so true – I try to write every day.
Drawing on my therapeutic knowledge, my workshops are designed to promote self-development, leading participants through guided writing activities designed to explore themselves and their situations, encouraging personal growth, mindfulness, and emotional wellbeing. Group sessions are enhanced by the support and energy of other participants, and reading what they have written aloud, plus having it heard by others in a safe environment has been powerful and affirming.
My background is in editing, copy-writing and PR, and when I think back through my life, I realise that even as a young child, I’ve worked creatively with words. My first pleasure was through reading fiction, burrowing down into my bed with a book and escaping into another world, and I think that’s where the emotional connection with words was made. I soon began writing myself, producing little handmade books with drawings to illustrate them, moving on to write a diary for many years. Even as a singer-songwriter in a band through my ‘20s, comments of ‘washing my dirty linen in public’ through my song lyrics now make such sense to me!
Powerful things seem to happen when people come together to write in a supportive and encouraging setting. The most anxious people are encouraged with sensitivity and respect by other group members to challenge their ‘inner critics’ that tell them their writing isn’t good enough and it’s a joy to witness people sharing their words out loud by the end of the day.
For more information on writing workshops, visit www.writeyourmind.co.uk.