Special thanks to Charles Turner for the pictures
On the 17th of Deceomber 2016 CandleX held an Emotional Wellbeing Workshop. This was a key event in the organization’s 18 month long MoodlaB project aimed at increasing awareness of Bipolar Disorder. A group of facilitators with CandleX founder, Xiaojie Qin in the lead, led the workshop. It was held at UCCA, located in the 798 Art District of Beijing. The two-hour long workshop was filled with various activities and discussions and was attended by over 20 local and international people of different ages and genders.
Several CandleX community members supported the event: Rose Tenyotkina, Melena Slaven, Kate Lee, Jess Hardcastle, and Ugnė Mikalajūnaitė all attended. Quite a few partners and media representatives also joined in.
One of the main goals of the workshop was to increase awareness of Bipolar Disorder. It is still very much stigmatized or not even known about in China. Some of the workshop participants had not previously heard about the disorder and were very glad to be introduced to it. Another goal of this event was to provide support to the general public in dealing with emotions. The participants were introduced to different emotions and through a variety of activities were able to understand themselves better and learn to recognize their feelings.
The workshop started with an activity to enable participants to simply relax and let go of any worries they may have. Kate Lee facilitated this relaxation by leading the participants through a variety of body movement activities – such as walking around the hall, stretching and moving freely to emotion evoking music. This was an amazing way to begin a workshop that was intended to help people break through emotional barriers and release emotions that may be trapped internally and preventing the individual from living a healthy and fulfilling life. Many participants expressed their gratefulness for the efficacy of this activity and some were even moved to tears.
The second part of the workshop involved a discussion about different emotions. The participants had a chance to share their thoughts about “emotions”. Everyone shared whatever came to mind when hearing this word. The ideas ranged from key-words such as “signals” to more specific emotions, such as “lonely” or “joy”. Xiaojie Qin gave an introduction to the huge diversity of emotions, their intensity, frequency and importance. Many participants may not have known some of the terms for emotions due to a linguistic barrier, thus the discussion and colorful presentation provided them with a new means of expression.
After getting to know the different types of emotions, the participants were more closely introduced to bipolar disorder. This illness is “a mental condition marked by alternating periods and extreme shifts of elation and depression”. The participants were led to understand how the mood shifts of someone with bipolar disorder differ to those of someone who doesn’t have bipolar. To give a more individual touch to the theoretical presentation, Ugnė Mikalajūnaitė, who has personal experience with bipolar disorder, was asked to share her story. It helped the audience to better understand the illness, and also to become more familiar with different ways of accepting emotions in one’s life.
The next part of the workshop discussed emotional intelligence. The participants were invited to share their own experiences with controlling emotions and also how they release negative emotions. Everyone had a method to share – from crying to dancing to listening to uplifting music. Everyone sometimes feels angry or sad and the ways people use to to express and release these feelings differ from person to person. It is wonderful to be made aware of different people’s strategies and methods.
The final activity of the workshop allowed participants to think about the physical influence that emotions can have on the body. Everyone was given a template of the human body and asked to think about the emotions that they experience most intensely during life. They were then asked to consider which body part that emotion affects the most and write the emotion on the corresponding body part. The final step was to match a color to each emotion and to color in the template. It was a very personal and insightful activity. Everyone associates different emotions with different colors and different body parts. It was a great way to finish the workshop and gave us an opportunity to use the freshly acquired understanding and vocabulary.
The main thing that we took away from this workshop was an awareness that there are no right or wrong emotions, and that each feeling and type of mood needs to be understood and accepted. Hopefully, a positive change was ignited in the participants’ minds, so that they are able to learn how to better express their emotions and also to gain an understanding of how to best release their emotions.