Use of Music, Image and Story in Embodiment coaching and workshop design

Music and atmosphereMusic and image can be extremely powerful in affecting mood in individuals and groups.  So the key question is: What mood do you want to evoke?  This will generally be to support a mood that is already happening or to ‘change the direction’ of the mood.  For instance, if people are tired and quiet you may want to allow for and support that with low key, more reflective or relaxing music; or you may want to shift that mood and raise the energy to help people wake up and re-engage.  This is if you are using music or other creative resources in the background of a general workshop setting, However, if you are facilitating an experience primarily through music (similar to 5 Rhythms or Alexander Technique in movement for instance), then the principles are basically the same, you just need to have a heightened awareness as it will be shifting moment to moment, and also a wider range of resources (so you can shift with it!). In a general workshop setting, poetry can be used in a similar way as poems too can be powerful in evoking mood and emotion – from the serious, to the inspiring, and from the melancholy to the playful. Obviously in working with image, décor, and other visual arts, generally it is quite hard to shift these things swiftly unless you are working with computer graphics projected or similar very motile medium but you can plan for the kind of mood you want to set and then tailor your environment to engender the state you want people to embody.  Even just changing the quality of light can make a big difference: daylight, bright light, low light, candle light, coloured light – all of these bring very different qualities.

With all of these medium you are mindfully creating an atmosphere. Unless an experience (workshop or coaching session) is relatively brief (a coaching session may well be), then you will probably want to move the atmosphere through different phases. In this way, almost regardless of the medium there is some element of ‘story’ to what you create. You take people on a journey from one place/state of being to another. It can be useful to look at this kind of story-making through the lens of myth, ritual, and theatre. On the next page are some models and maps of these things which I will reference in the session.

To finish off this text I just want to mention a few simple ways to use creative media in 121 setting such as coaching:

  • Music, quality of light, and decor as someone arrives to create welcoming space (while maintaining professional frame).
  • Getting people to find an image of someone or something as both inspiration and reminder-system for something they are working on, can use a piece of music / poetry too.
  • Use more poetic ways to access states such as ‘growing tree roots’ for grounding (ensuring you are clear on use of metaphor as clarity in giving direction)
  • Use placement in space (like theatre staging) to work with people on different aspects of, or on different relationships involved in an issue (similar to Gestalt 2-chair work), or to create an embodied time-line they can move through to explore contributing factors.

Models of story structures:

story structure

Can map as: linear, wave form, cycle, holistic form, ‘U’ and others I’m sure!

With any work where you reference a structure, storyline, or series of phases you need to also bear in mind the transitions between them.  You may sometimes want to make sharp cuts to a new phase but most of the time this is a flow. So, while we can talk and shape things in terms of these structures, there is greater sophistication when they are skilfully used and where the transitions are carefully managed.

Francis Briers, 2013

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