This is a description of what happens during a classic session is designed for people who may feel nervous about signing up for one of my introductory courses or events – because they don’t know what to expect. This is fairly typical of what happens in the Introductory Evening, the Breakthrough Group and the Express Yourself Workshop.
During the session, you will be gently introduced to the idea of expressing yourself through the Sunflower Effect using an adapted form of drama. I aim to create an informal, fun atmosphere that will put you at your ease and free you of the internal pressures that normally inhibit you from expressing yourself. For most people this is fun.
This is designed for people with no experience or aptitude for drama – so you’ll be in good company. Everyone will be feeling just as nervous as you do. Throughout the session, you will be encouraged to participate in your own way and at your own pace.
It is very common for people to feel anxious the first few times they come, which is completely understandable.
What happens at the beginning of the session.
We start off with exercises that will help you feel more relaxed and connected to other people. You will also have an opportunity to reflect on your reasons for attending, or any significant shifts or changes you have noticed since the last session.
We will follow this up with a series of physical warm-up exercises to release some of the tensions that are stopping you from expressing yourself. This will enable you to let go of inhibitions, and get you out of your head.
“Being in your head” is what is causing you to be so acutely self-conscious. You will learn a simple technique of how to switch off the circuits that are blocking you in your communication and switch on the circuits that are going to open them up.
Over time and through practice, this will enable you to connect with your instinctive side and to break free of the habit of over-analysing so you can become more spontaneous in a whole range of situations. You will be practising this throughout any of my 12-week courses so it becomes second nature.
You will also learn tools of how to express your emotions creatively which will make expressing feelings fun, particularly the ones that we as humans generally find unacceptable, e.g. anger, resentment, fear, depression, sadness.
It is very likely too that through this you will feel a sense of connection with other people in the group.
No pressure will be put on you, at any time, to speak about your experiences unless you choose to. This is not a talking group – but there will be plenty of opportunities to get more practice speaking in groups.
The next stage usually involves working with a story that will enable to step out of yourself and into a dramatic character.
You will too, have the opportunity to choose which character you would like to work with, usually the one that you are drawn to at the time.
Working through character is very different from role-play (which some people have experienced and found uncomfortable) which has a tendency to restrict us.
A character is three dimensional and is closer to the human personality, which gives free rein for you to interpret the character in any way you would like.
This will too, give you permission to express yourself in very different ways than you do in your normal life.
You will be working in a group so there will be an opportunity to collaborate with others and this is where the magic begins to happen.
A supportive group atmosphere quickly emerges through group co-creativity, enabling you to connect with others in an empowering way. Fun and laughter are a very important part of the whole experience.
There is a box of dressing up clothes so you will have an opportunity to dress up which makes transforming yourself into the character much easier. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.
It is often the darker characters that permit the expression of feelings that are most freeing. (See Healing Through Poison )
When the time comes to play out the story, most people are amazed at what they are able to achieve. It is common that even people with very little drama experience, over time, can produce spellbinding, complex and fascinating pieces of expression.
But that is not the point. More important is giving it a “go”. For some people, it is enormous fun right from the start. Others find it challenging but can see/feel that it is benefiting them. They are feeling freer, less inhibited, and more confident.
In the 12 week courses you will build on this each week – so you will gradually notice significant changes in how you express yourself.
At the end, there is an opportunity to reflect on your experiences and to relate them to your everyday life.
You will have the opportunity to reflect on your own experience and achievements but also to acknowledge others for what you have seen them achieve. Others too may see qualities and attributes in you that you are unable to see – which will help to build confidence.
In reflecting on the character you played, you may recognise the roles you habitually play in life or discover the ability to play a new role.
This will enable you to claim your power, put you in the driving seat of your life, bid farewell to the victim, old roles, or old behaviours that are no longer working for you. What seems innocuous and fun at the time, may begin to take on a deep significance.
The breakthrough/shift may be felt there and then, or it may appear in the days or weeks afterwards. You may find yourself dropping a particular mode of behaviour that has kept you stuck.
What people say about the experience of participating
These are some of the things that people have written in feedback sheets about their experiences in courses, workshops and sessions.
“I really let go!”
“It was so liberating to express a wide range of emotions.”
“My head is buzzing with the day.”
“I was able to be more assertive.”
“I have a sense of self-empowerment.”
“At last, I was able to quieten the critical voice.”
“It was like having the shackles of adulthood lifted – a chance to banish my shy child.”
“I felt very warmly connected to the group.”
After the session/course/workshop has finished
The final part of the process is the “bit in-between”. It is the time in-between sessions or after a course or workshop has finished.
This is when the magic begins to happen.
You may be surprised to find yourself expressing yourself in a very different way from your normal behaviour – without even thinking about it.
You may experience a dramatic shift, surprising insights or revelations.
Or a synchronous event may occur: an unexpected opportunity could drop into your lap; you could bump into someone you haven’t seen for a long time; or something may happen that seem very connected to what you have experienced in the group, course or workshop.
In fact, it’s not so surprising. As you will have been working through story, using the language of the unconscious, this enables change and healing to happen “underground”.
It’s a bit like what happens under the earth in spring. What seems like a barren landscape suddenly bursts into life. You are unable to see the germination process and the growth going on underneath, as far as you’re concerned it’s all grim and depressing.
The time in-between is a bit like this. Nothing seems to have happened until you wake up one morning and you feel happier and more like the “real you”, perhaps depression or heaviness has lifted, or you feel differently about the situation that had felt insurmountable or you find yourself behaving in a completely new way (See the personal story Emerging into the World). It could happen, too, in your dreams
Or you may feel so confident about yourself that you land the job you never expected to get, or you find yourself doing things that previously felt impossible or out of character for you.
Whether you believe in all this or not, it doesn’t matter – the process still works. It may take a little time for you to achieve the result you want, particularly if you have had a lot of difficult experiences in your life, or you are very shy, self-conscious or deeply introverted – but if you persist, you will. (I run a programme of follow up courses so you can keep progressing.) See the video below.
These are some of the things participants have said after the course or workshop.
“I am believing in myself again.”
“I’m in an entirely new phase of my life, now I can let go of the past.”
“I am now aware of my inner voice.”
“I was able to unmask myself to show the world who I really am.”
“I am more open, willing to share vulnerable aspects of myself.”
“I have a profound sense of personal transcendence from the trap of my own way of thinking.”
“I am now letting go of anger.”
Want to give it a go? How to get started