Facilitating Workshops on Mindfulness to Empower Others

Facilitating Workshops on Mindfulness to Empower Others

Apr 02, 2020

As an artist, a humanitarian, and a healer, I have learned to constantly traverse the unknown – diving into the depths of my consciousness with awareness – to emerge with new perspectives, deep gratitude and joy, peace, love and wisdom that continue to heal my soul, and strengthen my spirit. Alongside this process for oneself is the profound desire to serve others, to facilitate the process of healing for other people and other beings (seen and unseen) through the capacities I have developed and the wisdom gained from practice and experience. 

I have been facilitating workshops since I was in college, as part of a theatre organization. This was something I thoroughly enjoyed but there was a sense that the workshop was a curated space and what we discover there does not often translate into daily life. We get workshop high and when we get back to our routines, find it hard to apply what we have learned. The knowledge and skills come from the facilitators and there are no available tools that can help the participants expand their knowledge and develop their skills. At the same time, facilitation has somehow been about imparting knowledge and skills and not about helping facilitate the process of empowering and healing oneself. I realized later that this passion for facilitation was at the core of my dark night of soul experience, and the process that led to that (coming from an international conference high) mirrored all that I was seeking and what has slowly emerged in my life. 

When I met mindfulness in 2016, it was serendipity. A friend (as mentioned in the previous post) asked me to join a workshop she was going to attend. Knowing nothing about the topic or the organizers, I said yes. Apparently, it was an intensive workshop for would-be facilitators of mindfulness in the Philippines, organized by FriendlyCare Foundation, in partnership with University of the Philippines Diliman, Ateneo De Manila Bulatao Center, and the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, Canada. 

The process had begun early on, with my co-participants having gone through preparatory activities. Throughout the intensive workshop, I felt at home, that I was meant to be there, and all that I have experienced made sense in the light of what the facilitators shared. My active participation and enthusiasm did not go unnoticed. By the end of the intensive, the facilitators and organizers were wondering who I was and where I had come from. They welcomed me into the group and this eventually led to my journey of facilitating workshops on mindfulness. Finally, I had stumbled upon the missing piece that synthesized knowledge and skills: practice. 

Now, facilitating workshops is central to my life’s work. In the beginning, when what I perceive as my life’s purpose became clear, I explored different things – various work within the humanitarian, creative and educational fields such as event organizing, project management and coordination, documentation, community education and organizing, to name a few. These were all contained within my initiative, Conscious Heart Creations (CHC), the vessel that contains my body of work and bears the imprint and impulse of what I wish to create in this world – healing and empowerment. 

Another stream of work within CHC is Emergent Theatre (ET), a new theatre form that I have intuited in 2010 and continue to develop. It is a response to the felt need of a theatre form that offer open and non-judgmental spaces for performance and dialogue, where the “theatre is sacred space and performance is sacred practice”. Both were gifts that have emerged out of that deep dark experience. These initiatives also found synthesis with mindfulness. Although there were many influences that shaped and helped evolve CHC and ET, mindfulness ‘sealed the deal’. 

Nowadays, I see that process facilitation is a key aspect of this ability to heal and empower myself and others. Facilitating FriendlyCare’s Mindfulness Based Programs (Mindfulness Based Wellness for Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) continue to hone my capacities and enable me to expand my awareness in the programs and in daily life. Developing modules and facilitating workshops in collaboration with organizations and institutions open doors in terms of addressing specific needs, understanding the different nuances of human and community life, and seeing where process facilitation can link body, mind and spiritual well-being. Exploring Emergent Theatre exercises (facilitation and performance) take me back to my lifelong passion and relationship with theatre and this time affirm my belief in the power of theatre. All that I do, anchored on who I am (and continue to evolve into), has aligned through the practice of mindfulness. 

This article appears in the third issue of Willow e-magazineFor a copy of the magazine, contact willapmaglalang@gmail.com.

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