A Photographer’s Diary, The IcebreakerBy
Last week I delivered the most challenging course yet, to a group of people suffering from mental health problems. It was challenging because it was the first time that I had come across a group where there was hardly any interaction between each other, never mind me.
I had gone prepared for it to be tricky, and I had tweaked the course accordingly, to try my best to make it easier to understand, with lots of examples relevant to everyday life.
So, imagine this. There I am talking to the group about how the subconscious mind, how it works, and how if you think negative thoughts it will go out and find things to help prove it’s a negative world. I am surrounded by people, who are staring at the floor, not showing any signs that they are listening, more worryingly, not showing any signs that they are benefiting from it.
My conscious mind goes into overdrive. Suddenly the person sat there teaching positive thinking starts stressing. These were my thoughts; they look uncomfortable, they don’t look like they understand what I’m talking about. What if it’s over their heads; though it can’t be? What if I’m not helping them at all?
If I could have laughed out loud at myself I would have, how hypocritical was I. I’m telling them to think positive thoughts and here I am having negative worrying thoughts.
The joy of teaching your own course is that you can quickly alter what you are doing to make sure the participants get most benefit. So I moved onto the photography session quicker than normal. Thankfully this worked well. The group got to know me a bit better in a relaxed environment as we wandered around the grounds of the building.
They had huge fun finding things they didn’t know where there, even though they use the grounds week after week. And when we reviewed their photos, it became clear that they had all been listening to the first part of the session and taken it in. In fact one lad I could have cuddled when he explained why he’d taken a photo and virtually repeated my words back to me from the first half.
They had got it, and the experience taught me a couple of important lessons.
- You can never truly read what people are thinking, so don’t judge them.
- The photography session was a real icebreaker and I need something similar right at the beginning of the course that is fun and that will have the same effect.
The bathroom seems to be my best place for coming up with ideas, and this morning I came up with a good icebreaker involving balloons. I’m going to try it out on my group from last week, to see how they enjoy it.
Doing these courses is definitely a learning curve; it’s a fun one though, most of the time!
Living in the beautiful rural county of Yorkshire it was perhaps natural for Ruth to have an affinity with the countryside and its wildlife. Creativity is Ruth’s driving force finding an outlet in television & radio she worked for many years as producer for BBC & ITV.
However a love of photography and for being surrounded by nature called her to go back to her photography training and bring pleasure and joy to people through her connection with our planet.
Staying in the moment when taking her images allows her to experience the natural magnificence unfolding before her eyes. It is this moment of mediation, of gratitude, that she evocatively conveys through her images.
Company: Ruth Bayley Landscape Photography
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