Do Feelings Matter? Mine or Yours? A Workshop by Puneeta Roy (suitable for ages 16-24)
“We’re going to begin with a jug,” so opens Puneeta Roy’s workshop. “Do Feelings Matter? Mine or Yours?”. In the first half hour, participants use black crayons to draw an outline of a water jug, and then when Roy tells them to draw two lines through the jug, she has them fill each segment, top to bottom, with their feelings: first, what they are feeling in the present moment; next, in the middle segment, she tells them to conjure up a memory and emotion from the previous day. “The first memory you recall is the strongest — use that,” she instructs, and then asks them to fill the bottom of the jugs with words that describe challenging emotions — the things which are hard for them to accept. “We struggle with envy and jealousy,” says Roy, “where does that insecurity come from?”
Roy specializes in experiential exercises in theatre and so has participants walk to the center of the room for a social metric scale exercise. Dividing the room into areas of discontent and content, she instructs participants to move to where they are feeling, but not to worry about judgment: there is no judgment about what they are feeling or why. The purpose of the social metric scale is to acknowledge their emotions and that of others. The six participants, an intimate group and interestingly, all young women, are actively talking to one another; to an outsider, they would seem to be longtime friends instead of strangers meeting for the first time.
“On social media you compare your life to everyone else’s” says one participant, highlighting the difficulty of navigating the social media landscape of our over-mediated 21st century lives. The group responds to this observation—that they, too, have felt the sense of distortion in comparing themselves to others on Instagram.
The next exercise has them walking and being in a reflective space. Roy first has them looking down and not making eye contact, but eventually they look up and then make eye contact with one another. Eventually she tells them to smile. “There’s an active exchange of energy when you smile,” says Roy. When the participants stop walking they pair up and do a mirroring exercise. “Do not worry about being judged” reminds Roy.
The next set of exercises has these pairs touching fingertips, then slowly sitting back-to-back, one leaning a head against the other as Roy tells them to relax, to trust one another, not to worry about being judged. As they sit silently, Roy tells them to reach out to one another non-verbally, to share what they feel for the other person. Finally, Roy has everyone open their eyes and face one another to share their feelings about the exercises they just went through. The first half of this workshop closes with each participant introducing their partner to the larger group, as Roy watches and smiles.