The three-day ‘Self-Expression through Expressive Arts workshop’ conducted by Lopa Mukherjee was one of the most enriching experiences for me. I was very happy to get the beautiful opportunity to participate in a such a deep learning process. It was also a joyful process to explore myself through the arts in a safe and non-judgmental space created by Lopa through her warm and gentle presence as a facilitator.
All three days, we began with a sacred invocation seeking the presence and support of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo within us. The first day began with an introduction that each human being constitutes many selves within and some of these selves within doesn’t find sufficient expression in one’s life due to some family and social conditionings. At the very beginning, we did a simple exercise of giving a name to oneself to call each other only by that name throughout the 3 days. This created a deep openness in us in a very subtle way by prompting us to not connect with our old identities and get ready for a new beginning. And then, through an exercise of enacting a story, a non-judgmental space was created. Each one of us enacted a simple conventional story such as the running race between the rabbit and tortoise, while everyone was wearing a mask on their face. The simple act of wearing a mask made us unable to see each other’s expressions and set us free to be ourselves in the space. Some of us also infused our own creativity in these conventional stories during the act. After that, we took up the tool of drawing and colouring to express the wide range of entities within one’s inner world such as compassion, love, harmony, passion, anger, fear, inner criticism, jealousy, guilt and shame, in a drawing. Later we did a movement exercise, where, as Lopa narrated the entire evolution of organisms from single cell amoeba to the present human being, like a story, we moved physically like those organisms. Towards the end we were introduced about the different universal archetypes, to reflect and become aware of the archetypes that are operating through oneself. The entire session illuminated us with a wide awareness about one’s own inner world and abled us to recognise and acknowledge all the expressed and unexpressed selves within. As we closed the session, we were also invited to reflect during the rest of the day on what are the archetypes that each one of us want to connect with at this stage of life for the progress and growth in life.
On the second day, all of us together built a collective field by invoking the different archetypes that each of us wanted to manifest in the collective. We invited many archetypes such as Varuna, Mitra, Warrior, Lover, Networker, Servant, Angel and Child to manifest and designated a suitable place for each of the archetypes in a structured field. As I am about to share about the next exercise that we did, I find myself in amazement at how the 3 days were filled only with simple exercises but which were very profound. I also need to mention that it is also the presence, clarity, planning and the skills of Lopa with which she held the space, made me feel the 3 days to be light and simple despite its depth and profoundness. So, for the simplest process that we did next, the group was split into pairs. One person in the pair asked the other, ‘Who are you?’ and the other answered all that he/she ‘is’ till the person felt empty of answers. It was astonishing to see how this simple question made me reveal to myself the identities that I hold and believe as myself, ranging from the breath within me to the sky above me to the vast universe beyond me. The answers we shared between us in our pairs also made me realise that, because of the deep sense of safety created in the space, we expressed ourselves freely and deeply with all the vulnerabilities and without much of the usual resistances. Lastly, we did the exercise of choosing a single part in oneself, personifying as that part and spontaneously enacting it. This brought in a profound understanding of the part that one personified during the exercise. For example, personifying the ‘inner critic’ made me understand that the fundamental existence of this part in me is to keep pushing me towards more progress and growth, however, it also has the downside of criticising each and every thought and act of mine, how much ever good it is already. This exercise also inspired me to look out the fundamental helpful purpose behind each inner part’s existence. We closed the second day holding a question to reflect till we gathered for the next day. The question was to see which archetypes do each one of us want to invite into our lives at present, which can help us in overcoming the current challenges in life and so progress forward.
The third day was the day of integration of the light and shadow in oneself and opening to new beginnings and manifestations. Each participant was asked to choose two parts within oneself that are contradictory, for example, the part which aspires to work, work and work and keep progressing and its contradictory part which wants to always just relax and enjoy life. Two other participants personified each of these contradictory parts and enacted an unprepared and spontaneous conversation in front of everyone. It was a unique experience for me to see the two individuals enact the parts within me and the conversation end in a mutual acceptance of each other between the two parts towards a healthy collaboration ahead. Most participants were amused by the way the parts were enacted exactly as they behave, even though it was a spontaneous exercise and it sparked in us the ways to integrate the extremely opposite parts within. After this exercise, we were asked to repeat the first day’s exercise of expressing the wide range of entities within one’s inner world through a drawing. During this process, I was able to witness a shift in my inner world from the first day and the same was observed in the outer expression on the paper too. At the end of the three days, I was able to notice that there are a number of parts within me, some of which express themselves properly and others don’t, although there is a central being within me which is beyond all these parts that is just witnessing the play of all these parts like a stage play. It also brought in a deep question to me: which of these parts do I want to identify myself with at each moment of my life and how frequently?
It was a small group but everyone, without exceptions benefitted greatly from this journey of self-exploration and growth!
“The workshop was a beautiful way to become playful, light and opened perspectives to look at our problems.”
“Yes, the atmosphere of physical expression is entirely different from an online session, Will make it a point to attend NAMAH events in future.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. I came with a lot of curiosity and openness to explore my sub-personalities. The dance, acting and drawings brought in more awareness of myself.”
“She (Lopa) held the space so beautifully that such an important work never felt heavy. There was lightness throughout the workshop.”
“Joy, Delight, Blooming. A beautiful experience. Thank you to the facilitator and all the participants, Prabhu, James and all supporting staff.”
“Insight into integrating (first segregating) different energies and making conscious formations with clarity of foundation.”
“I had some fun and some lightness to the introspective process. It also reminded me of the importance of lightness and laughter in any introspective process. The last three days have been much better at home – a lot more love and connection and while I can’t causally trace it back to the workshop, there has been a strong correlation it seems.”
“I loved having Lopa as my facilitator. Loved the way she was holding the space…”
“I am very new (almost unaware) of Integral Psychology. I learnt about the archetypes – and how we can call on them.”
“Lopa was structured, friendly and provided the guidance and help necessary to the workshop.”
“Experiences were light and peaceful, enjoyable (captivating role-plays) and relaxing (for me).”