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Memoir workshop feedback

Question: What is most gratifying about running these memoir and mindfulness workshops?
Answer: Having participants feel engaged during the workshop and having them leave with a clear sense of direction and inspired to write.

Wanda's memoir workshop
Wanda Hennig runs a memoir and mindfulness workshop in Berlin, Germany.

The workshop was very well planned. It all inter-connected and led one (me!) from being a stressed, boxed-up person to one who is open to searching and delving deeper. I loved the design of the workshop. And you have definitely inspired me to make meditation practice and journaling part of my life. The onion needs to be peeled layer by layer. I so enjoyed the beautiful powerful energy. It was an honour spending time with you. —Deborah-rose, Buddhist Retreat Centre workshop/retreat.

I felt pushed, especially on the first day, out of my comfort zone. Then I became inspired by the group energy and the exercises that forced me to write into aspects of myself. Take-aways include a commitment to stay with the journaling; to let the process flow and trust something will arise; and my need to quiet the inner critic. By the end of the workshop I had discovered a spark of something to write about; a capacity to write; and a right to write. Thanks a lot for your generosity of spirit. —Fiona, Durban 2019.

The whole experience of your workshop worked for me. Love, love, love. The pen did indeed flow. Take-aways include a commitment to focus more on the meditation, to listen to my muse—and to write! —Sharon/Ingesund, Buddhist Retreat Centre workshop/retreat.

Writing in the studio. My 2019 Memoir & Mindfulness workshop at the Buddhist Retreat Centre, South Africa.

I’m so happy I did your workshop. It came at exactly the right time for me as I have been wanting to write for some time but have never been able to establish a routine and a discipline for writing. This was partly due to a deep insecurity about being able to create something of significance out of the experiences, thoughts and feelings that were swirling around in my mind.

I found the workshop liberating. Your nonjudgmental approach helped me to shed my inhibitions and self-imposed restrictions about having to conform to some external standard. Your open and authentic vulnerability about your own struggles and experiences set the tone for a safe environment where all the participants felt valued. The two activities (icebreaker and pledge) at the beginning of the course immediately removed all barriers between us to create a gentle atmosphere of mutual support and respect.

You lead the workshop with gentle authority and were always mindful of the validity and value of each participant’s individual response to any given activity or situation. The writing exercises were effective and helped me to understand the process of creating a vivid description or even a meaningful story out of a fleeting memory or an amorphous idea. I found it most helpful to listen to the other participants reading from their writing and the ensuing discussions taught me a lot. I realised that I’m not the only one to suffer from unnecessary insecurities and anxieties brought about by a debilitating self-critical and self-censoring voice! It was an insight that was hugely affirmative for me.

The workshop was exceedingly productive as I came away in the end not only motivated and inspired to write my own stories but also with a strategy and a fruitful method. I could say a lot more: for instance, I liked your down to earth and sincere approach to the spiritual practices of Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation. —Tyna Charter, Durban.

You have shown me avenues I would never have explored had I not attended. As a first-timer trying my hand at meditation, I am now hooked. I found having to push myself to continue writing even though my mind had finished enabled me to break through boundaries I did not know existed. I am leaving here excited to start writing my memoir, inspired and motivated. I also now have my own personal muse, who has already given my answers. —Cathy C, Buddhist Retreat Centre workshop/retreat. 

This for me was more than a workshop on writing. This was a workshop of allowing me to experience every part of myself. Every corner. Warts and all—and holding it to the light. I loved how you timed the flow from one exercise into the other. It was challenging, deep, profound—and FUN! Thank you so much, Wanda. You made it an unforgettable, inspired and inspiring experience. — Morné T, Buddhist Retreat Centre workshop/retreat.

I appreciated your calm and gentle approach. I loved the first practice, using our senses. And the six-minute practice of the seven writings: the surprises that came up. And the Tonglen practice. Thank you for your authenticity. — Xenia, Buddhist Retreat Centre workshop/retreat.

Participants write and the aloes bloom during my memoir & mindfulness workshop at the Buddhist Retreat Centre, June 2019.

The workshop was great. It was opening and inspiring. I loved your smart writing exercises, which were well designed to open and enabling us to draw from our subconscious. I like your delicate but also firm leading style. With your persistence, especially during the leading questions writing exercise, it was possible to explore around our soft edges, seeing first glimpses of potential in writing. Ideas came up, things I never say to myself. All excellent. I think you feel writing nature very well. I think you are familiar with subtle meanders of others mind tuning in it well.

Apart from my engineering profession I am also a student of MSc in Mindfulness studies at Aberdeen University. I have teachers’ qualifications in meditation. Your workshop has inspired me to think about perhaps working with survivors of rape and abuse—something I have done using my MSc in Mindfulness—using writing and mindfulness. I appreciate having had these insights. — Beata Tschirch, Berlin.

Many thanks, Wanda, for an inspiring workshop. I seemed to come down with something directly afterwards—body aching all over—and I wondered if I had just caught something or whether the act of writing was some kind of release? Like a catharsis. Who knows. Anyway, I did enjoy it. It felt very focussed and I felt very free to write just as the words came since there was no pressure to share the results! —Deborah Metherell, Berlin.

I enjoyed the course and the book has not been filed away—meaning I have every intention of keeping the door open! —Judith Shier, Durban.

There are times in life when we have been dealt a circumstance that is so challenging to break through or to change that the limitations imposed are not within our control—times when the mere thought of an opportunity such as this would never have been imagined. As someone who is new to an experience like this—and new to taking time out for myself—my experience with your workshop has been compelling and left me with much to look forward to. I go away with plenty of notes and contemplations. It has helped me look at situations from a different perspective. Thank you for your insights and extracting insights from others—to share. I have learned much. Including not to take things too seriously! This has been a privilege for me and one that I do not feel guilty about. I am deeply appreciative of every lesson, every challenge and every release. Thank you. You have been, among many things, a mentor and an inspiration. —Yvonne, Memoir & Mindfulness, 2019.

Huge thanks for the way you conducted the workshop. The pressure was good to wring creativity out of us. I struggled to cope with the first day and fleetingly pondered absconding. But all came together and became much clearer on day two, so I’m plunging ahead on my debut memoir. It will doubtless be a lot more anecdotal than my fellow participants apparent intention, to render more introspective and esoteric pieces. The workshop worked for me overall very well. It was way more interesting and challenging than a straight “mechanics of writing” that I thought I was looking for. I think such a workshop would have been boring in comparison to yours. —Terry Higginson, Durban.