I Don’t Do Workshops

I don’t do workshops. There are so many of them in Glastonbury. The Oracle Events Website makes me feel overwhelmed. On Monday alone they list a choice of 5 different yoga classes, including  Kundalini Yoga at Shekinashram, or Yoga with Thalia at the Goddess House. I could do Chen Style Taijiquan in the Abbey Park or Yang Taijiquan at St Dunstan’s or Qi Gong in Shekinashram, There’s a choice of 3 different meditation practices – Samarpan, Buddhist Mindfulness or Transmission, there’s a Five Rhythms drop in class or I could just abandon all dignity and go to Glastonbury Morris Dancing.

Next weekend I could be attending The Way of the Sacred Ceremonialist at the Goddess House, Jamie Catto’s Transforming Shadows, a weekend course in Hecate’s Herb Potions, a Mandala Making Day, The Nodes of the Moon Astrology Workshop, a One Day Introduction to Palmistry on Saturday and that evening an Experience Sacred Geometry Workshop and film. In addition on Sunday I could attend a Sufi Chanting Dhikr or a Divine Union Sound Bath (will there be bubbles?).

I’m exhausted just thinking about all that.

I’m not really a joining in person I guess. I’m horrified at the idea of dancing blindfold, singing bhajans, anything that might involve sitting in a circle talking about feelings, and as for Yoni Massage….ummm I’ll pass on that. I have been to a fair few Taiji and Qigong classes but had to stop going to yoga and meditation because I always left feeling furious.

I’m more than a bit dubious about the motivation of some workshop leaders too – especially those who want you to make an ‘investment’ of £1000 to listen to them for a couple of days, and those who are clearly on a humungous power trip. A few years ago there was a weekend workshop in the Assembly Rooms, led by an American, the attendees were easy to spot as they were all forced to wear bright orange jumpsuits. On Saturday the workshop leader broke them down through humiliation – they scrubbed the Hall floor with toothbrushes while being shouted at. On Sunday they were apparently built up again through praise and encouragement. That sounds like abuse to me, not therapy. Mind you – the floor came up lovely.

Then there was the Breatharian who was leading a course in living off air and sunshine, who went to The Galatea each lunchtime for a bowl of soup ‘just to be sociable’.

A few years ago though I came across Jamie Catto, I can’t remember who it was that first recommended his workshops, but it must have been someone similarly disinclined towards self-exposure and public humiliation as I for me to take notice.

I was interested in meeting Jamie, he was the guitarist from Faithless and made the One Giant Leap film “a collaborative video project for the 21st century which fuses music, words, sounds, rhythms and images from over 25 locations in 20 countries around the globe to celebrate diversity”

He describes himself as a Creative Catalyst, Musician and Mischief Maker, his catchphrase is ‘We are each of us a wise guru in charge of a mental patient’. As Glastonbury has often been described as an ‘open air lunatic asylum’ I think that can be applied collectively to all of us here, not just individually.

I checked out his Transforming Shadows workshop blurb:

“You will learn how to transform unruly demons into employees and harvest the many gifts within challenges instead of exhausting yourself battling them.

You will learn how to dissolve and heal blocked emotions and the pain of old habits which weigh you down and reframe negative beliefs which hold pain-loops in place.

You will play games and processes which lighten up rigid notions of appropriateness and uptight limitations of unconscious shame and negativity.

You will laugh your head off and realise how much energy you’ve been wasting wearing masks to satisfy other people whose values you don’t necessarily share.

You will realise how precious each day is and how much more space there is for mischief and playfulness in the world, especially yours.

You will forgive yourself for all the shame and negativity you’ve allowed yourself to carry due to old beliefs from uptight parents, carers and teachers of old.

You will reclaim vast amounts of energy and joy and channel it into your creativity and passions.”

That actually sounded like fun to me, he was doing a workshop in Glastonbury which meant I wouldn’t even have to travel, and I was really impressed by this bit “It is my highest vision to ensure that all my workshops and events are 100% inclusive. This idea of anyone missing one of my events for money reasons really bothers me. So although I set a price on the workshops I also offer the option of paying less if the price is out of your range.” I sent off an email offering what I could and was immediately accepted onto the workshop.

I was not disappointed, in fact I was blown away, I remember I spent much of the day laughing till I cried, the kind of belly laughs that hurt. Afterwards others noticed a big transformation in me, and the stuff I learned that day has stayed with me. I’d always felt blocked in my creativity and gradually those blocks have released. I strongly suspect this blog would not have happened without Transforming Shadows. I went on to another Transforming Shadows workshop in Bournemouth and took a couple of mates along.

I had a chat with Jamie yesterday about doing workshops in Glastonbury (he’s done a few now) as opposed to other, more ‘normal’ places. He feels that people go a bit deeper in Glastonbury, and he has to explain less of the basics. Concepts like ‘you are not your thoughts’ don’t come as a revelation here, and we’re more used to practices and habits that enable us to release our creativity into the world. He led his first ever ‘Mojo blast’ workshop here, as he finds it a good place to road test stuff – there is a good spread of people, their generally less uptight and more open to playing the fool.

Jamie is leading Transforming Shadows again at Paddington Farm just outside Glastonbury next weekend – Saturday and Sunday, 4th and 5th March 2017 from 9:45am until 6pm on both days, see here for more details. The postcode for the venue is BA6 8JN. If it appeals to you I highly recommend you book, you can pay as little as a tenner or as much as £240, I promise that it will be worth what you can afford, so don’t be a tight arse!

His whole point is to do stuff with a lighthearted, friendship based approach, rather than in an earnest way. He said his workshops tend to attract people who are over the ‘we’re so spiritual’ ‘crystals and dolphins’ thing. I think he’s right about that, which makes his workshops perfect for people like me, who don’t do workshops.

July 2017 Update – Jamie is offering his Mojo Blast workshop in Glastonbury this weekend, your opportunity to “Take Life, Work and Creativity To The Next Level For This New Chapter” Sat, 22 Jul 2017, 10:00 – Sun, 23 Jul 2017, 18:15 BST at Paddington Farm, Glastonbury. Click here for more information.

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