At the core of Street Wisdom is the idea that every moment is extraordinary, and each street full of inspiration. With an open mind, comfy shoes and clothes fit for the weather, the streets can provide answers to a myriad of questions. All we have to do is ask.
And that’s what we did at Normal? Festival of the Brain, expertly guided by the genial Street Guide Phillip Cowell in a fun and practical mix of psychology, cognitive science and mindfulness.
We began with some ten-minute exercises. One asked us to notice 'what you’re drawn to' (and what you’re not attracted to) whilst another, tailored to each person, asked us to look for 'the patterns and what connects them' or, in my case, 'sense the story'. Stories, it turned out, were everywhere.
After the warm up, we set off with our own questions in mind, open to whatever answers the streets provided. These, Phillip explained, could come in any form: street signs, passers-by, shop windows, doors, windows, graffiti or overheard conversations…
We live in sped-up, switched-on times. Street Wisdom gave us permission to slow down and focus on the signs and signals all around us. This method is useful for anyone struggling with day-to-day personal stuff, tackling a challenge at work or seeking a creative breakthrough. Philip advised us to keep our questions manageable – not too big nor too small. In forty-five minutes, walking slowly and with purpose, each participant found the answers they sought.
The session closed with a chance for us to share our stories of what the street has taught us. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The walk had given us an opportunity to get out of the autopilot mode we live in for so much of our time. Answers had come to us in the form of a poster in the window, or down by the beach. We were excited at how fluid and magical the streets became when we tuned in to their hidden messages and unexpected discoveries.
Street Wisdom has grown into a global movement, and it’s not hard to see why. With free public events, these immersive walking workshops teach participants that answers are everywhere. Just remember your waterproofs, and bring an open mind.
- Charlotte Forfieh
Links relevant to this diagnosis:
Mindfulness – Mind UK
Have You Heard About Walk and Talk Therapy? - Counselling Directory