Without any experience in public speaking and without any intention to do so, I found myself spontaneously volunteering to speak to an audience of strangers at the first Healing Forum. This is not what I expected of myself. But the atmosphere was one of encouragement and non-judgment, and drawing on this energy I shared my personal story with a room full of unfamiliar faces.
A key charm of unconferences is that you never know what to expect. At an unconference, any participant is free to share something they cherish with a self-selected audience, whether it be a personal story, a topic for discussion or an activity. Participants at these forums are often as varied as animals from across the continent. So, you can imagine the diversity of speaking topics and facilitated activities that arise at unconferences!
The ‘healing’ theme of the Healing Forum, held in the unconference style, drew together participants from such varied backgrounds. Despite their diversity, everyone appeared to be connected by a common theme - curiosity for a life beyond the conventions, usually defined by institutionalised education, a 9-5 job, a mortgage or two, and so on. It appeared to me that most of the participants, if not all, were questioning and challenging this prescribed life and were on a quest to define their own journeys, free from social expectations.
There is much to be said about those who have made deliberate and thoughtful adjustments to their reality. The participants and presenters at the Healing Forum created an open atmosphere for new and often esoteric learning, showing appreciation and compassion for the joy, suffering and vulnerability of others. Finding oneself in their midst led to a sense of ease, where self-consciousness and insecurity faded away to make room for the freedom for self-expression and simply, of being. Intoxicated by this atmosphere, I found myself walking to the front of the room to pitch, to a large audience, the desire to share my story.
Although I was unprepared, sharing my story with an interactive and attentive audience was a remarkable learning and healing process. It allowed me to explore key themes in my life, such as freeing oneself from cultural constraints, the interplay between one’s emotional, physical and spiritual health, and reaching rock-bottom before opening up to new possibilities. The opportunity to share and reflect in front of an encouraging audience allowed me to appreciate the journey that has shaped who I am.
I believe there is a part of all of us that yearns to be shared with a community. And maybe, by giving in to that yearning, more of our growth can flow into humanity’s shared consciousness, encouraging flexibility in fixed beliefs and allowing us to expand our perspectives beyond their current confines. If you’re heading to the next Healing Forum, I unreservedly encourage you to share something with all of us. You may be surprised by what you discover about others, and yourself.
Bei Yin practices a form of deep tissue work called Rolfing. The practice balances the body in gravity, freeing the body of pain and chronic stress and allowing a feeling of lightness, fluidity and ease. Bei's former professional life in corporate law and business strategy came to a standstill when her chronic back and neck pain became debilitating. After more than a decade of exploring conventional and alternative therapies, Bei found her way back to health after discovering Rolfing. Experiencing a shift in physical structure relieved Bei of constant pain. She also started relating to the world from a place of internal alignment and stronger sense of self. The profound changes prompted Bei to journey around the world to learn from the best Rolfing practitioners. After practicing Rolfing in North America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, Bei recently returned home to Melbourne to set up practice. She is currently working at The Urban Alchemist in Carlton North. www.theurbanalchemist.com.au