By Vikki Parker

Original post – June 23rd 2018

Creativity & Wellbeing Week June 4th – 10th 2018

A week of pure creative process… A truth tale from behind the scenes……


It’s a time for testing old belief systems.
A time for honouring my own permission to be well.

I’m really fascinated with that concept of allowing yourself to be well, allowing yourself to connect with yourself and allowing yourself not to be numb and on the run.

I’m interested in expanding that simple, single moment within the self when we choose to reject any process that offers opportunity for growth. Or not.

I want to examine those small everyday deaths within us when we choose what we know, no matter how it’s hurting us, or those small births when we say ‘YES’ despite the screams of resistance within us. 
When we say yes and show up for ourselves.

I’m interested in my own ability to show up for myself. Or not.

It’s often a long journey to that point where we can show up, and even when we dare to, the aftermath can be crippling, when the inner critic kicks back in.

This is a piece about honouring bravery.
This is a piece about gratitude for those who showed up.
This is a piece about self-love and the journey from codependent to curator & collaborator.
This is a piece about believing….
Believing in small inner voices……
Believing in the process….

‘The only way out is to go within’

Whenever I engage in any creative process I set intentions for discovery….. I ask-
‘who am I right now in this moment?’
‘what do I need in this moment’
And I surrender……

At the beginning of this week I asked myself how I was going to deal with all the events. How was I going to manage my own needs, my own nervous system, whilst engaging in groups with lots of new people and energy.

I also asked how I would monitor my own relief from loneliness and my introvert needs of being alone.
How did I feel about going to workshops where I didn’t know what was going to happen.
Even though I curated the programme!

These are valid fears for everyone making decisions about whether to put themselves in that position.
How do you decide?

I think my aim for this blog series covering my creative and reflective response to organising and participating in the events is to shed light onto the experience, the fear of coming to a group you don’t know and fears around the arts medium on offer and to offer my insights into the possibilities for healing.

I gave myself the time. Will you?
If you’re  wondering where you are on that click on this fantastic article:-

So, welcome to this record of the collaborative event bringing together Brighton Arts & Wellbeing practitioners to offer you a taster of how the arts can improve and support your mental & emotional health.

Over this blog series I want to share my experiences of all the events and what I learned about myself.

‘ I in 4 people in the UK face some form of mental health challenge.’

It’s time to eliminate stigma.
It’s time to explore self – care & self-responsibility.
It’s time to feel empowered over your own life.
Art is medicine.

Soothing Song

On Monday 4th June, Arts Unwritten hosted the first event of the week. I was blessed to participate in the Songbird’s Choir, over at Patcham Memorial Hall. It’s a joyous weekly gathering during term time, led by the lovely Brailla May. 

Her choir is a little oasis of calm, perfect for letting yourself sink into the beauty of natural voice singing. All expertly taught by ear.  A community experience that makes your soul soar xxx

I’m already part of Zu Choir in Lewes and for the last three years have bathed in the beauty and power of four-part harmony a cappella singing. I was so excited to experience another choir that focused on the same kinds of songs from around the world.

  • My simple intention was to offer myself to the song with a full heart and connect with the people. 


Comments & Feedback

Joy, life, living through me!’

‘Singing makes me joyful and connects me with other people’

‘Tiredness, sadness & worries, all get sung away and I feel revitalised’

‘Singing with my friends raises my spirits, improves my breath control and helps me with harmonising’ –
 Elizabeth, age 83

‘Singing helps something in me get unstuck, get something out that I can’t do otherwise’

Soul Sofa Moments

I am passionate about bringing forth the evidence for why singing is good for you on so many levels. Too many people believe they can’t sing,  are afraid of their own voice, or fear the repercussions of speaking openly. In this society freedom of communication is presented as a possibility but is not enjoyed by many aspects of community. There are many marginalised voices and people who feel that parts of their truth are silenced.

There is a reason I called my one-woman show ‘Voice’

To truly sing from the heart is to open yourself to vulnerability, and if the tears flow let them.

My journey with singing, especially singing the Blues has been fundamental to my own wellbeing. As a child who was silenced and coerced to collude with the family lies, it became crucial for me to find ways to cleanse the pallet of the rot.
Lies lie heavy on the soul.

For many people, myself absolutely, loneliness is a major feature in their lives.
Loneliness has been said to be a precursor for Depression

In a Huffington Post article, Hari references the work of Professor Peter Cohen, who says: “If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find – the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. [Professor Cohen] says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else. So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

Singing in a choir is a beautiful example of connection, shared experience and heart-centred bonding.

Both Songbird’s & Zu Choir are truly open to anyone with no need for singing experience or musical knowledge.

We’re not there to be musicians, we are there to remember our humanity.


Chakra Perspective…. if you like that sort of thing 🙂

http://www.chakras.info/throat-chakra-blockage/

‘A blocked throat chakra can significantly impact your ability to communicate effectively for fear of ridicule and judgement. A throat chakra blockage can also manifest as the inability to express and realize your truth in the world. When the fifth chakra is open and balanced, you are able to express yourself clearly and honestly in any situation with confidence.’

Common Signs of Throat Chakra Blockage

‘You may find yourself unable to speak your truth when you need it the most, or holding back on expressing your needs and desires. Perhaps, you long for realizing your dreams and living with a strong and clear purpose, but seem to not be able to quite get there. These are common signs that your throat chakra  does not function at its optimal level.’

‘When the fifth chakra is blocked there are several signs, both physical and non-physical, that can emerge. Physically speaking, an unbalanced fifth chakra can cause you to experience consistent fatique, headaches, and speech impairment. In some cases, it is not uncommon for even more serious physical effects to include tinnitius, autoimmune dysfunction, and hypothyroidism.’

‘The effects of imbalanced chakras may also manifest in less physical ways. In the case of the throat chakra, a blockage can initiate behaviors indicative of insecurity and a lack of control, such as:’


manipulativeness
lying
arrogance
anxiety and/or fear
diminished self-esteem
compulsive or excessive eating


Singing allows the throat chakra to open and the honesty of yourself to come through.

‘And the songbirds keep singing
Like they know the score ‘
Eva Cassidy

Articles for deeper reading

https://www.health.news/2018-01-29-the-mental-and-physical-benefits-of-singing.html

To find out more about Songbird’s Choir go to
https://songbirdsbrighton.wordpress.com/

‘Let your arms be the wings of your heart’ – Caroline Carey

The second event of the week couldn’t come soon enough for me! Caroline Carey’s ecstatic dance process is so profoundly transformational that I had to include her in the programme. I have experienced her work on numerous occasions. Finding Yellowave as a venue was perfect.
Dancing yourself alive by the sea…. what could be more nourishing?

What if you had never been to something like this before? What exactly happens?

When you enter the space the mood is already set with an altar made of stones and elemental findings. Dancers are invited to come in, take off their shoes and find a space where they can let themselves arrive. The music is already playing and about 20 minutes is given to free warming up and tuning into the space. This is all self directed, i.e. you can stretch or move in whatever way you feel.  This can be quite intimidating but when you see that noone else is watching you and Caroline is holding the space so safely, you really do just go with it.

Caroline then gathers an opening circle to just check in, say hello and give guidance about being free to move as you choose with the awesome music. Shamanic themes weave through her commentary during the dance and you are offered a good 1 1/4 hours of solid dance, sometimes alone, sometimes as directed into pairs or small groups to explore each other’s existence in the dance. It’s a wondrous experience to allow that kind of communication. It is pure connection from a loving space.

Conscious, ecstatic dance happens in alcohol & drug free spaces.

My intentions

  • My simple intention was to allow myself to absorb the music and remember my inner grace and power


‘I am not alone if I am connected to the space around me’

‘Here I am, waking up to my body’


‘The ecstatic nature of life moving through you’



Participant responses-

‘Intimate space with not too many people, perfect location, professionally held and organised

‘Good pace and very inclusive ‘

‘Their guidance and presence, their knowledge of how movement is an empowering tool for well-being’

‘Very experienced, excellent instructions throughout the session. ‘

‘Great music, beautiful venue, gentle guidance with a lot of freedom ‘

‘Fluid, accepting and present in the moment ‘



Soul Sofa Moments……


So why is dance so amazing for our wellbeing? Apart from the obvious physical benefits of the exercise how else does it serve us. So many people are trapped in their bodies believing they have no rhythm, maybe feeling that their body is not aesthetically right for dance. 

To be in the body is to be away from the mind, sometimes we are simply crying out for that relief.

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well, just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion’
Martha Graham

Dance has been extremely important to me since I started ballet at age 3.  I have always been a wild dancer and love to twirl. My dislike for drunken crowds and the nightclubs of my earlier adult years meant that dance was unavailable as a social event until I found Salsa and then Conscious dance.  I get completely lost in it.
As a survivor of an abusive family dynamic I had to reclaim agency over my body and my space in the world.
Dance allowed me to do that.  

Chakra Perspective….

‘When your root chakra is blocked you don’t feel at home… anywhere. As the base chakra, it significantly impacts your sense of security in life. When this energy center is open and balanced you feel at home, stable, and able to take on life’s challenges. You have clear focus, a sense of purpose, and are always “present” in the moment. However, if this chakra is blocked, the security gives way to doubt, fear, and your emotional and physical well-being suffers.’

Symptoms of Blockage in the Root Chakra

‘A blocked root chakra not only creates an imbalance in energy flow throughout the body, but it can also instigate feelings of restlessness. You may feel like you’re constantly searching for an elusive something that you can’t even identify.’

‘Individuals with a blocked root chakra find it difficult to “settle down” with anything, including where they want to live and work. Even their personal relationships are impacted.’

‘Characteristics common to those with a blocked root chakra are:

lack of focus
co-dependency
restlessness
feeling abandoned’

‘In addition to the vagabond-like mentality a blocked root chakra creates is the issue of the physical and emotional toll the blockage takes.’

‘Common physical signs of blockage involve the lower parts of the body, especially legs and genital area. The root chakra primarily governs the reproductive organs and lower extremities, including the lower spine, legs, and feet. The chakra blockage will often replicate itself manifesting as constipation, kidney stones, circulatory issues, and leg weakness. ‘

‘Additional physical signs can include:’


‘sciatica
hypertension
impotence
colitis
eating disorders
prostate issues in men’

Common non-physical signs of blockage include:

‘depression
anxiety
fearfulness
guilt
resentment’

There’s something about ecstatic dance and the shamanic drumming that deeply connects the body and supports the root chakra.  Feeling free to dance wildly is an enormous personal permission. There is such strength in planting feet firmly within the dance, carving out your space and validating your place in the world.  When strength of the self within is felt, especially in a safe, held space, which is the beauty of conscious dance, then we are free to explore the gentle, graceful aspects of ourselves too. The music takes us on a journey through the subtle energies in the body, unblocking and releasing stuck tensions. And you move at the pace you are comfortable with. If the body is no longer able, the inner dance can still live.


Dance like noone is watching
(they’re probably on their phones anyhoo!)

Articles for deeper reading

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/annabel-abbs/dancing-is-good-for-our-mental-health_b_9524056.html?guccounter=1


For more information about Caroline’s work go to – 
www.middleearthmedicine.com

‘Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body’ Martha Graham

‘For the silenced voices….when we sit with the art we cry out to the world ‘this is within me’ and we let the art hold our hand through the witnessing’ – Vikki Parker

Soul Sofa

This illustrates a right of passage for all of those healing warriors who dare to visit the dark night of the soul and emerge through it with an extraordinary ability to articulate that process in a way that inspires others.
When I invite people to speak I do so knowing that a vulnerabiity is being asked for. I know this vulnerability. I am coming to terms with speaking it myself. My gratitude is with both of my speakers today who were generous enough to go beyond simply describing their artform, into deeper and more beautiful inner landscapes. I was moved to tears as both captivated their audiences with their honesty.

https://www.psypost.org/2018/05/study-performing-artists-suffered-childhood-tend-intense-creative-experiences-51152

‘Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?’ – Pablo Picasso

Zen Doodling


With Sanya Budna & Hove Stressbusters
‘Wonderful, mindful experience, and a cute rock to take home as a reminder.’

https://www.psypost.org/2016/06/skill-level-making-art-reduces-stress-hormone-cortisol-43362

The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do? – Pablo Picasso

 “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Inner Dance – Dance of Awareness

With Terry Conway

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170308/Can-dancing-improve-your-mental-health.aspx

Wild Art… Wild Heart…

With Moyra Scott

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/can-you-paint-your-way-to-better-health-20180530-p4zig6.html

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
― Gabrielle Roth

Comedy Improvisation

with Emma Hiwaizi & Hove Stressbusters

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/comedy-improv-anxiety/403933/

‘Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.’ – Pablo Picasso

What an amazing week of events! Can’t wait for next year!

 If you are interested in participating or collaborating in future Arts & Mental Health events please sign up to our newsletter or email Vikki at artywisdom@vikkiparker.com


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