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WELLBEING WORKSHOPS: WRITE MINDFULLY

These workshops are for anyone interested in the practice of Creative Writing & Yoga.  No previous experience of yoga or writing is necessary.  You simply need enthusiasm, curiosity and a desire to wake up from living on auto-pilot, live in the moment, express the narratives that are waiting to be told and experience a joyous, calmer, more creative life.

ABOUT:
Workshops combine an exploration of creative writing as a mindful practice, movement, breath awareness, asanas and relaxation.

WHAT TO EXPECT:
Workshops blend aspects of a creative writing workshop with elements of a yoga class.  Sessions begin with informal introductions.  We gently warm up the body with movement before embarking on free writing, interspersed with asanas. The workshop comes to stillness with relaxation.

WHAT YOU NEED:
All you will need is a notebook, comfortable clothes in which you can move freely, a pen(cil) and an open mind.

IF YOU WISH TO ATTEND OR HOST A WORKSHOP:
For further details, or any questions you may have, kindly email me at: drjarmstrong@btinternet.com

 

How Julie came to this practice?
I see creative writing, yoga and improvised dance as mindful practices. 
About 15 years ago, when I was looking for the 'still point of the turning world', a friend suggested I try yoga. From the very first class, I was hooked; I really enjoyed the asanas, meditation and relaxation.  There was such a serenity and dignity about the practice that I left the class feeling calm and focused.  From that day on, I incorporated yoga into my life, and embarked on my studies with the British Wheel Of Yoga.

In 2006, I went on my first retreat. I participated in yoga practice, philosophical discussions, improvised dance and my own creative writing practice. Although I have frequently engaged in workshops and discussions, up until then, it had been in an academic context as I worked as a Creative Writing university lecturer.

Academia can be many wonderful things, but at its worst, it is the antithesis of yoga ideals; it can be rigid, rule-bound, competitive and goal orientated.  The retreat environment was very different.  It was a place where I didn't need to perform or achieve I could just be, free to make mistakes and trust intuition.  This was a safe space, a cleansing space, a liberating space, one that enabled me to look at the world, creativity and teaching afresh.  And I realized, that for me, writing is not simply a finished product, a hard outcome something to be done rightly or wrongly and judged by the publishers and critics; it is a practice which engages writers and readers: creatively, spiritually, philosophically, intellectually and emotionally; it is also a path which can lead to self-awareness, personal growth, healing and a calmer, more joyous, mindful way of life, the same as the practice of yoga. 

Over time, I made connections between the creative writing process, the tenets of yoga philosophy and improvised dance. I approach the practices in much the same way. I seek balance, silence and go inward. Writing, yoga and dance open my mind; they connect me with myself, nature, all living things: the planet, stars and beyond, giving me a sense of continuity and oneness, a higher level of consciousness and a greater sense of reality.

As a writer, and a tutor, it is not my intention to limit myself, or others, to a specific set of rules.  I am more concerned with the actual doing, the spirituality of the process, the journey, the thoughts, ideas and images, which inspire me along the way. I follow my creative energy as opposed to diverting it. Creativity is about being absorbed in the moment, cultivating wakefulness. 
I introduced the tenets of yoga philosophy into my university teaching to guide students and enable them to write mindfully, to tap into their creative flow, awaken hidden dimensions of themselves and to unlock some of the obstacles they may encounter, for example: writer’s block, dwindling motivation, running low on imagination, lack of focus, developing and sustaining ideas.  And over time, I saw the wellbeing benefits writing mindfully was having on my students; so, I devised a series of workshops which I shared with the wider community also.

In recent years, I have been fortunate to work with dance artist and tutor, Rachel Rimmer.  We have presented at Roehampton University: The Speaking Body In Space: In The Moment: How Can The ‘Live’ Dance Moment Be Articulated Through Words? And we gave a workshop for Cheshire Dance: An Inquiry Into The Reciprocal Relationship Between Creative Writing & Dance.  We have shared practice with dance and writing practitioners at Salford University and have facilitated a series of workshops for elderly people, Art Link S-O-T: Dancing With Words, using the vocabulary of poetry and dance.

With excellent teachers, I continue to enhance my yoga practice which has taken me on travels around England, Scotland and Wales, France, Turkey and Portugal, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.  

In 2017, after much deliberation, I chose to leave my University post with the intention of sharing my: Wellbeing: Write Mindfully workshops in more community spaces, in particular, yoga studios, in the hope that participants can explore their creativity whilst embarking on their journey to the 'still point of the turning world '.