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Restoring me to myself by Marie Angeline

Restoring me to myself

Dear Marie Angeline,
This is my personal account of what going to your group has done for me.

I first met MA at the Organic Food Co-Op which was held in Pearse St at that time. She was teaching people to do a Red Indian Dance in a room upstairs. It sounded interesting so I went and enjoyed it. There were leaflets of her
activities on display so I took one with information about a group she called Body, Mind and Spirit.

This was a group that combined dance, meditation and creative writing all together. My husband had died 18 months before and I was feeling lost. I was hoping to find something that might help restore me to myself. I am a visual artist but I was unable to work and I needed a creative outlet of some kind. I took a chance and signed up for 10 sessions. It turned out to be a great help.
It was held in her house on Thursday mornings. I turned up in loose clothing as requested and found myself in a large orange coloured space with about six other people all sitting on cushions around the walls. MA explained what we do and that she expected us to be respectful of each other’s privacy by not talking about anybody or what they wrote, outside the room. There was an atmosphere of acceptance and friendliness. We began by moving to music led by MA and as we warmed up and the music got faster we all began to dance in whatever way we felt led. We paid no attention to anyone elses dance. Everyone dances differently when we are free to move in our own way to the music. This went on for an hour and was very liberating.
I loved the freedom of it and the total acceptance. Then when we were seated again MA spread pictures of all kinds on the floor, cuttings from magazines, photographs, cards, a great variety. She asked us to pick one or perhaps two that we felt drawn to. I felt attracted to a photograph of a small girl that reminded me of my sister. Then holding on to the pictures we lay on the floor or sat on a cushion for meditation. MA directed us into a meditative state and we had a half hour of peace and relaxation. Then we got out pens and paper to write about anything that came into our heads. We could use the chosen image as a starting point and write about it . But whatever we wrote about was accepted. I hadn’t written anything apart from letters since I had been in school. So this was quite new for me. MA encouraged us to write without feeling we had to censor it . To let something write itself without worrying about spelling or handwriting. The card I had chosen was a help to start with . Soon we were all writing away.
When the time was up we read what we had written if we wanted to, or felt able to share it. If we didnt feel we wanted to that was alright too. MA asked us to listen and see what we liked about what others had written. We were not there to criticise but to encourage. So most people read and this was very interesting . Everyone was so different , so wonderful . I was as amazed at myself as I was at everyone else.

We did Body Mind and Spirit every week and every week it was a little different. We would always dance and meditate and write but the stimulus for writing changed . It could be Taste or Smell or Words that we each contributed or something else that MA came up with.
I have now been going to this group for almost 8 years and I still enjoy it. The writing opened another creative door for me and now I have published three books, one of them for children. I have also written poems that evolved directly from work in the group. A poem about my sister developed from the very first session when I picked a photo that reminded me of her as a child. I have at last begun to work again in the visual arts but I also continue to write. This group has been a creative lifeline for me and has been a big part of restoring me to myself. I am very grateful to MA and her
Body Mind and Spirit Group. I hope it never stops.
Mary Brady, Killiney

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