The following are blogs from our Student Scholarship recipients, detailing their experiences on Days 1 and 2 of the 2015 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, held in March.
I attended Creativity Day on Thursday, March 26th, because I figured I might take a couple interesting facts home with me or meet a few nice people the day before the large crowds came for the Symposium. I was pleasantly surprised at how incredible the Symposium was from the very second that Creativity Day started. From the traditional African music to the wonderful choreography on stage, I was energized for the day to begin.
I then went to my first workshop of the four day experience, which was The Art and Science of Brain Care
, by Linda Graham. I was not familiar with Linda nor her work, but I wrote four pages of notes because I was so intrigued and interested in the information she was discussing. I learned so much about how the human brain works and about how to keep my brain healthy that I went over my notes again before bed, just so that I could retain some of the information I found crucial. I hope to go through these notes again in the near future and begin to practice the various tips and tricks that Linda taught the group, so I can begin to build a more healthy and complex brain.
The Keynote presentation that Jon Kabat-Zinn gave on the second day of Symposium was honestly inspiring. I have read several books by Jon, but had never seen him talk in person or even watched a video of him on YouTube, so I had no clue what I was in for. Needless to say, I was blown away by how personable and intellectual he was with regard to mindfulness, along with how well he was able to translate his knowledge to the crowd in the limited time available.
I am very excited to see what the rest of the Symposium has in store.
I attended Jon Kabat-Zinn’s workshop on The Power of Mindfulness as Practice
and was particularly interested in the topic, as someone who has maintained a daily meditation practice for 26 years. I went expecting to learn how to translate my own experience of mindfulness into practice as a therapist, to gather specific techniques for teaching mindfulness and for framing the practice of therapy. Jon’s workshop was a powerful reminder that personal practice is the gateway to mindfulness. There is great power in being fully human, in sitting in a posture that embodies "dignity and awakeness," to use Jon’s words, and in taking up residence in the moment, which then translates into taking up residence in your own life. An awareness of thought as separate from self is a path toward transformation. If we begin here, we might help our clients better. Jon suggested that our thoughts create our reality, which can be a form of self-constructed torture. Coping comes through awareness, he added, and through realizing that the door to the cage is always open. If we are aware of the stream of thought, Jon taught us, we have the power to avoid being caught in it.
This was my second year at the Symposium, so I knew not to wear my suit this time.
I attended Joan Klagsbrun's workshop on Focusing
in the morning, where I learned how to "clear a space." While my problem/solution-focused approach does not leave much room for what I call the spiritual side of psychology, I decided to leave my comfort zone and attend this session. I must say I gained insight into this side, as each attendee closed their eyes, listened to their bodies, and treated themselves lovingly. We were asked to act with patience and kindness, character traits we don't often employ when speaking about or to ourselves, and each member found and listened to what their body wished to say. In clinical practice, we don't often get a moment to ourselves to really unwind. We just employ tactics that help us continue at our harried pace. I found that Focusing really allowed us to function amidst all the "life" that happens, as we create a safe, welcoming environment for ourselves.
After lunch, I attended Ysaye Barnwell's singing workshop
. I sneaked in amongst the tenors, although my voice isn't perfect! That didn't matter, as I added to the swell of harmonies and melodies and helped fill the large room with volume and presence. Singing spirituals from the Antebellum South filled me with a different spirituality than Focusing did, but that was definitely the theme of the day.
The best part, by far, was when we joined hands and voices in peaceful protest music. Replacing religious lyrics with contemporary civil rights topics brought a sense of power to the singers and restored my faith in humanity. We don't need to riot or burn things or throw stones when we can link arms and make our voices heard peacefully.
Thank you Psychotherapy Networker for allowing me to be part of something so much bigger than myself.