Chairs. Can you imagine your house without chairs? A seat, with a back, generally meant for one person. A chair must have been one of the first things our Stone Age ancestors invented. Or let us say found useful. Perhaps just a boulder. Or a tree stump. Just something they could sit on. To begin […]Chairs
Tag Archives: a quiet place
Place: the missing key for unlocking a circular economy –
Relax With Moon
How stressful this time of year has become? How far our six-week shopping binge is from its roots, from that old mid-winter festival when everyone was looking forward to a celebration and a bit of community – as well as a prayer that the sun would actually come up again.
Did you know, to always make sure that was going to happen, they used to send the shepherd boys up to the highest point as the sun dropped to its lowest point at winter solstice, 21st December? And of course, there was no Roman calendar then just observation of the seasons and the sun moon and stars – so they used to add a buffer of three days for safety, so full celebration was on the 24th (Christmas Eve) to really be sure that the sun was rising.
‘Son’ rising after 3 days – could there be a spiritual clue here?
So what about now you may ask?
Our wonderful material society that constantly encourages endless feeding but in which we never become fully satisfied. So how can we stand up to all the Tesco or John Lewis ads and Slade tracks?
Many people, the poorest of course, often times borrow huge amounts of money and end up with serious debt with the legal or/and illegal loan sharks. A whole year paying for one day.
And before you say, ‘It’s for the children’, perhaps for us adults a little self reflection might not come amiss.
The Myth of Christmas
You cannot deny it is a wonderful story. A new baby, stars, royal visitors, mysterious lights in the sky: wow.
I like myths. I don’t really mind whether they are true or not, if they have a great message for us all. Myths, yes, but there is of course the reality of the family and time spent with various relatives you may or may not have met during the rest of the year. Or does it only highlight a sense of loneliness for those without family, and even for those in company?
So relax with Moon. Top tips.
1. Be strong.
2. Ignore the messages of the consumer society
3. Be courteous and respectful to those who do believe
4. Be generous of heart to yourself and others
5. Enjoy with moderation, share, no need for excessive food. Many have little. Some have none
6. Drink loads of water
7. Take time out to relax
8. Be mindful. Turn off the television and delight in the mid-winter, cosy on up with a blanket and listen to some relaxing music
9. Pamper yourself, with some time out
10. And most of all – Have a happy, relaxed Christmas.
A Quiet Place Retreat
Penny Moon describes the process of developing a bespoke personal reflective experience
“Who we are looking for is who is looking.” – St. Francis of Assisi
A little light bulb moment dawned for me recently that led me to develop a new programme – a personal retreat with Mindfulness and Reflective Practice as key. I knew as soon as I had the idea that it would have to be on a one to one basis and would have to be able to give people some time to practice being as well as offering them some space to:
• Create space in their lives
• Rest in a warm, safe environment
• Get nurtured body and soul
• Clear their minds
• Consider their options
• and get to ‘re-member’ their true Selves.
It also would have to be more than a ‘pamper’ day or marching over hill and dale – which are relevant, but not what my light bulb told me was needed: something different, fed from ancient practices where retreat is considered essential for the development of the soul. I also knew I wanted to give a taste of this wonderful experience in a secular way.
I was very pleased with my vision – then realised that is exactly what A Quiet Place does…..! Silly me. Very much aware that this kind of thinking is not everyone’s cup of tea, I also wanted it to be adaptable across the board for corporate executives as well as those simply needing a break. Conscious that some people may feel a little anticipatory concern of imagined inner religious undertones or personal secrets to be let out with such retreats, so I needed to be able to allay any fears and create a set of menu options to build a great bespoke day.
Developing this experience was an interesting opportunity for me to wander memory paths of my own reflective practice through a variety of gateways that I have explored over the years. I am personally interested in the spiritual path and have had the great good fortune to meet a variety of extraordinary teachers along the way, incidentally; I don’t mean the popular ones on the Internet, either but from times pre the modern global ‘self-development industry.’
1. The process, then, meant finding an appropriate place, having a pre-meeting to decide an order of the day with some sort of feedback session after about 3 weeks.
2. The content I had fun developing; so many possibilities! I had an image of a beautiful winding river, gentle today but with some adventures to tell and a few places to rest, have delicious picnics as well as explore with the companion… i.e. one’s self.
Questions this process raised for me:
• When do we ever spend seven hours on our own with another human being nowadays, except for family?
• Might it all be too intense?
• What can we do that would fulfill the bee… ness I had imagined as well as being of practical use to apply in the real world?
Might it be seen as self-indulgent – and whilst that may be OK not sure if people would be given time off work for this! To help me answer these questions, I prepared a timetable that would start with a holistic well-being audit (a series of questions I have devised to look at different issues which range from physical, emotional and intellectual to spiritual and creativity). This informal conversation produces a complementary agreed prescription with Top Tips, as well as providing clues as to what direction the rest of the day might take. Additionally, it informs the deep relaxation and guided visualisation I saw as a key component of the day.
To my delight and pleasure it worked well! I have played with the idea over 6 separate days – each person unique. The venue has been the extraordinary in the conservatory (see this great pic of the wonderfully misty view from it first thing).
An ex-chef friend of mine made wonderful food for lunch and we wandered a little in the grounds.
The flow of the day worked well and finishing off for coffee and cake at the in Parkgate to watch the sunset over the Welsh Hills was just right. What else could we ask for… and of course we worked very, very, very hard!
A Quiet Place: What Is Done In Love, Is Done Well
Mike Wright reports on his recent day of training with A Quiet Place
I recently had the privilege of being invited to attend the National Staff Training Day for ‘A Quiet Place’,‘a \”within schools\” programme of therapeutic support for pupils experiencing social, behavioural and/or emotional difficulties’.
I had initially been introduced to ‘A Quiet Place’ after being rather serendipitously handed a book (the best kind of ‘being handed a book’, I feel) written by Penny Moon titled ‘The Practical Well-Being Programme’ (for my review of the book, see here). So, acquainted with the ethos behind Penny’s holistic approach, I was grateful to be given the opportunity to gain a fuller picture of how this ‘artfully vague’ structure comes together in practice.
The structure of the Training Day quite aptly reflected that of Penny Moon’s general approach in not adhering too strictly to formality – and therefore allowing more space for creativity and spontaneity. This was personified in Penny herself, who artfully meandered through topics with an often hypnotic style; the deviation between precision and vagueness forming the ebb and flow of her stream-like speech (and I say this in the most positive sense, of course!). Bullet points were acknowledged, providing often very useful anchors of structure in the stream of experiential anecdotes, relevant informative updates, inspirational videos and breathing and meditation exercises.
The first thing that struck me, however, on entering the conference room situated on the 4th floor of 54 St James Street, Liverpool, was that ‘A Quiet Place’ comprised of actual, real people. Now, of course it seems plainly obvious that any Training Day, for it be effective and useful, must have people there to train. However for me, as a relative newcomer to ‘A Quiet Place’ and a relative outsider to the structure of how schools are run, it was not until this moment that I realised ‘A Quiet Place’ was not simply one person’s philosophy, existing as a detached ideal, separate from a system of statistical and results-focused teaching. It soon became apparent that this was in fact a practical and organised holistic model, designed to enable individuals to realise their true potential and value. Each person in the room had a role to play in making this aim a reality within the school system – and judging from the various experiences being shared, each person appeared to be galvanised by the challenge.
Being in a room with people who appeared committed to making a difference in terms of increasing the general well-being of their students gave me a more refreshing and hopeful impression of what was being achieved in schools today, as opposed to the demoralising and slightly cynical attitude that I often sense in the current educational climate as a result of, for example, the government’s proposal of introducing performance-related pay to the profession.
Instead, the climate within the room seemed to be one of positivity and optimism, as a result, perhaps, of the ability in being able to share in the more valuable reward: helping a student achieve their potential in terms of both well-being and education, not simply by pushing them towards a high A-grade at all costs.
Each ‘A Quiet Place’ Champion or Facilitator appeared to have a story to share in which the way of learning had been a positive catalyst for change in an individual within their own school setting. Interestingly, one Champion had brought along a living, breathing example, in the form of a student who had agreed to attend the Training Day to share their experience of ‘A Quiet Place’. The young man keenly expressed that for him, ‘A Quiet Place’ had offered him valuable space in which to calm down when he felt agitated; a place in which he was not shouted at, but rather listened to and treated with empathy. He explained that this had encouraged a better sense of self-awareness and enabled him to better regulate his behaviour by remaining calm when facing certain aggravating stimulus. He admitted that his behaviour had been bad in the past, but now he was able to help some of his peers due to the understanding he had gained from his experience.
The Day culminated with some meditation and breathing exercises which quite a number of attendees had been eager to practice. This represented to me the level of commitment within the room towards the ‘A Quiet Place’ ethos, in that each participant was enthusiastic in increasing their own level of self-awareness, and therefore in increasing the experiential grounding from which they could understand and better help other individuals.
I recall watching ‘Question Time’ once and hearing one teacher’s view on performance-related pay, expressing the fact that people don’t generally join the profession because of its lucrative nature. This really brought home to me what ‘A Quiet Place’ is all about and crystallised for me the real reason that most teachers join the teaching profession in the first instance. I would suggest that the main motivational factor that I sensed during the Training Day was actually that of bringing about positive change through unlocking the full potential of an individual. And this does not mean reducing potential to equate to a grade or something easily quantifiable, but rather viewing it holistically to include a sense of well-being that could remain after leaving the classroom.
Having compassion as motivation for work, rather than being concerned towards receiving the fruits of the labour, reminded me of a quote from Van Gogh, who once memorably observed that, ‘What is done in love, is done well.’
I wonder how many people could argue with that.
Review: The Practical Well-being Programme: Activities and Exercises by Penny Moon
Mike Wright reviews this important book for CPEA Ltd – social care, children’s services and management associates
For Penny Moon, ‘The Practical Well-being Programme’ is a book that ‘introduces readers to the underlying principles and approaches associated with a holistic approach to well-being in educational and other social contexts’. To do so, Moon draws on the principles of ‘A Quiet Place’ – a ‘within schools’ programme of therapeutic support for pupils experiencing social, behavioural and/or emotional difficulties,’ applying them with the wider scope of tackling the issue of stress management, plus making them serve as a roadmap of approaches that encourage a greater sense of self-awareness and well-being.
The ‘A Quiet Place’ ethos was originally put into practice through the provision of an actual physical room where the environment was not only aesthetically designed to engender feelings of calm and well-being, but was also a place in which the environment was one of creative self-exploration for the individual as a means of accessing the ‘personal resources necessary for increased self-awareness and self-healing’.
The aim of this book, then, is to distil the essence of ‘A Quiet Place’ so that it may be applied broadly for those seeking to understand how to manage stress more effectively – whether as a means of support for ourselves or for others. In this sense, Moon’s work remains true to its aim through the use of clear language –and an insistence on experiential learning through the use of a variety of tools and resources (e.g. diagrams, activities, guided visualisations, YouTube links, etc.) made accessible to all ages, rather than resorting to a complex and esoteric theoretical approach to stress management that, could threaten to isolate her work’s applicability to a more limited field. Her move also ensures that the book remains versatile both in terms of how it may be used and also in terms of who may wish to use it, ranging from teachers, parents, employers, social workers, but also to individuals dealing with their own specific circumstances and issues regarding the management of stress.
The holistic approach adopted by the book also means that there is no direct a priori position taken on what constitutes the self: instead Moon deploys a model which encourages an exploration of how we interact with our environment in terms of emotion, mind, body and spirit. This approach allows for a free and unconditioned interpretation of the information in the book, and plus it provides for the creative space necessary for the development of self-awareness and self-healing. However despite each chapter being divided into two parts – that of information and background, followed by activities and exercises – it could be said that the book is lacking, or at least is vague, in structure. That’s a point acknowledged and intended by the writer, however; although this could at first be considered a weakness, when the aim and ethos of the work is brought back into perspective, it becomes apparent that this is actually the book’s main strength. That’s because a vague, ambiguous structure puts the emphasis on making the reader the source of their own development and understanding – and in providing them the freedom to creatively explore the material, rather than have it explained in a manner that may not reflect their experience. ‘The whole world says that my way is vast and resembles nothing. It is because it is vast that it resembles nothing. If it resembled anything, it would long before now, have become small.’ – Lao Tzu.
The book recognises that stress is something which is experienced as a result of the individual’s perception of their environment and situation, rather than being effected by a specific external cause. If the opposite were the case, stress management would be a far less complex issue, of course, as we would be able to locate the common cause and merely remove it from our environment. Therefore the book’s approach, which appears to be shapeless on its surface, reveals itself to be both a practical and considered approach in addressing a complex issue affecting so many in terms of their ability to function in society, and more fundamentally in terms of the effect on their general health and well-being.
This is an especially refreshing approach when considered in relation to today’s modern, fast-paced society, which seems to breed an attitude of intolerance towards delay and dysfunction. The approach adopted by Moon thus addresses the issue of stress without stigmatising those that experience it through imposing labels, or making stress a medical matter. The book also avoids placing any undue emphasis on stress being a social problem, rather than an issue deserving attention due to the mere fact of it impacting on the individual’s well-being. This attitude towards stress management, in terms of a reluctance to attach any judgement or stigma to the issue, therefore facilitates a climate of empathy and acceptance that promotes and supports the understanding necessary for both individual and social awareness and change.
In summary, ‘The Practical Well-being Programme: Activities and Exercises’ serves not only to ‘introduce readers to the underlying principles and approaches associated with a holistic approach to well-being in educational and other social contexts,’ but also provides an accessible and pragmatic source of therapeutic support for personal development towards an increased level of self-awareness and self-healing. The book’s experiential and holistic approach, contained within a ‘light and breathing’ structure, also ensures that it is widely applicable to all ages and circumstances – making it an extremely versatile and useful tool for teachers, parents, social workers and individuals wishing to better understand and manage stress in order to achieve a greater sense of wellbeing.