Saturday, July 13, 2013

20. Twenty Workshop Exercises on Self-Analysis and Reflection

Dr Abe V Rotor
These exercises are recommended as a teaching aid  to enhance learning in the university, in outreach programs, workshops and seminars. They are designed for hands-on and on-site demonstration. In general they are reflective of life experiences, and therefore values-oriented. Participant profile is wide from children to adults, irrespective of ideology and faith, and its spans over all walks of life.

Exercise 1 -  Relationships (Family and the World)

Make this tree live again -  Using colors (pastel or crayola) and drawing paper, each  participant puts life in a dying tree, bringing it back to its prime years. He may imagine himself to be the tree in a manner of reflection, seeing himself at the end, to be enjoying the fullness of life. While the exercise is being done, the resource person will personally play “Violin and Nature” as background music.  This consists of violin compositions accompanied by the sounds of birds, waterfalls, wind and running stream.   This is a ten-minute exercise, the first half is drawing, and the second is analysis and evaluation.  Values derived come from Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy Theory (physiological, safety, love, esteem, self-actualization), and Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation, particularly on sense of achievement and fulfillment), and Concept of  Integration-Cooperation. There are ten criteria to evaluate the exercise in an “exchange papers, corrected by” style.  This also serves to enhance sharing and good judgement.  The drawing must show the following: sun, water, resurrected tree, other trees, landscape, people, other creatures, naturalness of style, artistic quality, full use of space.

Exercise 2 - “Quo vadis?” (Where am I going?)

I am a Sailboat – The participant imagines himself as a Sailboat drifting on the open sea. Using the same coloring materials and a drawing paper, he has five minutes to complete the scenario.  Here he expresses himself in relation to what he feels and thinks, and consciously and unconsciously such expression reflects his leadership qualities.  Even the drawing itself shows his ability to communicate with the viewer. Does it show self-confidence
and self-motivation? Does it show a particular leadership style and behavior? The second five minutes will be devoted to evaluation in the same manner as in the first exercise.  The drawing must show the following: prominent sailboat, other sailboats, destination, people, creatures all, alive sea and sky, artistic quality, full use of space.

Exercise 3 -   Dream and Reality

Waterfall – Like the first two, this is also an individual exercise. The participant draws a waterfall from his own experience and imagination. He has five minutes to finish it. The background music is nature’s  sound, water flowing and cascading accompanied by songs of birds and other creatures. The theme of this exercise is that in life “somewhere along the way we find a waterfall”. How are we going to deal with it? Some ten minutes will be devoted to analysis and sharing. Criteria lie on the following aspects: fullness of fall, height of fall, natural watershed, clouds, upstream river source, continuity at downstream, power at the fall, presence of life,   artistic quality, full use of space.

Exercise 4 – Community Consciousness

Let’s build a house -  This is a group exercise with 10 members in a group.  Using pentel and easel paper, the members of each group form a queue and complete the drawing within two minutes. Before they do this they have two minutes to confer and plan their house and strategy. A lively music is provided as a background.  Like in the other exercises, a set of criteria will be used in evaluating the exercise.  The key here is, there are neighbors.

Exercise 5 – How intelligent are you?

The  8 realms of intelligence - All of us are endowed with a wide range of intelligence classified into eight realms or domains. It is not only IQ or EQ or any single sweeping test that tells us how intelligent we are. Here is a simple guide to find out which realms we are superior.

Domain                                          Scale 1   2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10 1. Interpersonal (human relations)
2. Intrapersonal (Inner vision, self-
    expression, reflection)
3. Kinesthetic (Sports and body
    language, dance)
4. Languages or linguistics
5. Logic (dialectics, math)
6. Music (auditory art)
7. Naturalism (relationship with
    the natural world, “green thumb”)
8. Spatial (painting, sculpture,
    architecture, photography

Analysis takes ten minutes. After completing the table, get the total score and divide it by 8 to get the average. But the average is only secondary to the distribution pattern of his scores.  For example there are those who have high scores in 6 and 7, while there are those who got high in say, 3 and 6.  During the sharing period, a participant tells his first two or three strong realms from which we can picture his talents. Can we relate the findings with the kind of person he is, his work, likes and dislikes, etc?

Exercise 6 – Peace-of-Mind Square
                     (How “balance” are you today?)

POM - When you wake up in the morning look at yourself on the mirror and imagine the four sides of the mirror as a perfect square. Each side represents the following: Mental or Intellectual, Psychological or Emotional, Physical and Spiritual.  Thus


          Psychological               POM                 Spiritual


You are not  “square” if you are not relaxed. You do not have POM (Peace-of-Mind). Strive to keep that mirror of yourself a perfect square everyday. In this exercise, evaluate these four aspects and draw the lines representing it.  Notice how distorted your square is.  It is time to reflect.  How can you make your life square?  This takes five minutes with an appropriate music background like “Meditation” and “On Wings of Song”.

Exercise 7 –Get out of your box!

The Magic Box - The figure below is an imaginary box constructed with nine (9) dots.  Now this is the instruction. With a pencil draw four (4) continuous lines without lifting the pencil and hit the nine dots without repeating or missing any one.

                                  o               o                o

                                  o               o                o

                                  o               o                o  

It takes several trials. And when you have finally found the secret you will realize that you really have to “get out of your box” to be able to do it.  Learn to explore outside this box.  Break out your shell of biases, pre-judgment.  Move away from your zone of comfort or fear.  Get out and seek the world outside your waterhole, outside your comfort zone. While doing this exercise the musical background is one with a happy note, such as “The Lonely Goatherd” or “The Happy Farmer”. It takes not longer than ten minutes for the whole exercise.  Note: In case you already know this exercise beforehand, you will certainly be helpful to the group as facilitator.

Exercise 8 – How many squares are there?
49 squares - There are 8 vertical lines and 8 horizontal lines in this diagram, thus forming forty nine (49) small squares.
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                         .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

But count again. How many squares are there really?  This will take sometime to compute.  You may devise your own equation or technique. You are free to mark the diagram, draw another one, use a calculator. “Gavotte”, “Sa Kabukiran” or any lively musical background creates a happy mood for this exercise.

At the end you will realize the many applications of this exercise, such as devising a modular system, synergy, diffusion and osmosis in chemistry and physics. Above all it shows us the danger of over simplification, overconfidence, underestimation, taking things for granted, and the like.  Look before you leap.  Silent water runs deep.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  What are the other applications of this exercise?

Exercise 9 - Resignation (When and where do we stop?)
Venus de Milo – How do you make the figure look more beautiful? This is also a group exercise (same grouping). An outline of this goddess of beauty is given to each group.  The instruction is: Supply the missing arm. Each group confers and works collectively in two minutes. This exercise aims at creating awareness of limitation and humility.  It reinforces leadership skills through reflection rather than immediate action. Communication and motivation are also enhanced. It reminds us that “beauty lies in secret.” The suggestive nature of a thing makes it more exiting. Venus de Milo is like poetry.  Completing it is like writing an essay.

Exercise 10 – Secret of Success (What made your “idol” successful?)
This is a class exercise.  Each member of the class thinks of his “hero” or his  model, a  person whom he reveres and admires so much (hinahangaan).  Without revealing to anyone who he is (he must be a real person, dead or living, local or foreign), he proceeds in examining his qualities. After 3 to 5 minutes, he describes his “idol” using keywords.

The teacher writes down on the board the keywords.  Everyone is called to share until the board is sufficiently filled up. Now the teacher makes three columns with the following headings: attitude, learned (in school), inherited (minana) and fate (tadhana).  Classify the qualities enumerated under each column.  Which column has the most entries?  The least?  Can you offer any explanation to this observation? Compute the percentage of each category.

Think of yourself now.  Relate the qualities of your “idol” with yours.  Are you following his footsteps? What is the greatest lesson you learned in this exercise?

Exercise 11 – Make these dogs happy. (How much do you love your pets?)
 Here is a drawing of two docile dogs. (Refer to drawing.)  Why are they sad?
Find out what are the things missing in the drawing that would possibly make the dogs wiggle their tails, rise and greet you, show their affection?

You have five minutes to complete the drawing.  Now let us analyze. Exchange papers with your neighbor and let us rate your work in terms of providing the following: food, shelter, warmth, companionship, freedom. How did you fare?  Relate the results of this exercise with your pets at home.  Can you become a better master now?  Remember, “A starving dog at his master’s gate predicts the ruin of the state.” (From Auguries of Innocence by William Blake)

Exercise 12 – Road of Life
Draw a road which leads you to your ambitions and dreams.  Since you are “the master of your fate”, plot it well.  Think and reflect. Where will your road leads to?  How far?  Imagine the chapters of your life and show it on your road.  Look at both sides of the road.  Where are you right now?  At the prime of your life where will you be?  How about in your golden years?  Analysis and sharing follows.  Criteria include length of road, its continuity, curves and topography, things around, people, living things, sky, landscape, where one places himself on the road, definite and clear pattern of road and environs.

Exercise 13 – If you were blind and given three days to see, what are the things you want to do?
On the first day what things do you want to do?  Enumerate.  How about on the second day?  And the third?  During the sharing period give reasons to support your priorities and interests.  This exercise determines the priorities of a person.  It unveils hidden values.  Three perspectives are evident in the result which shows priorities which are: self-centered; people-oriented, nature-oriented.  The exercise will show the person’s regard to opportunity and time. The three days becomes an ephemeral bridge.  How will he take it after the experience, when he goes back to his original world of darkness? How relevant is this exercise in our lives?

Exercise 14 – Make a figure out of clothes hanger
This is a group exercise, preferably from 5 to 10 per group.  Group competition is encouraged here and each word will be compared. Since this is under time pressure, there is not much time to plan and work on details.  But this is the  key to demonstrate group cooperation, spontaneity, resourcefulness, alertness, practicality and artistic ability. The facilitator may limit the source of materials coming from the personal effects of the participants and nothing more. Or, as the situation warrants as for example the venue is in the field, local materials found in the vicinity can be used.  A good figure is a scarecrow in this particular case.

Exercise 15 – Pyramids and triangles – a puzzle.
Here are 5 dots.  The instruction is to draw five continuous lines without lifting the pen and touch all the five dots, at the same time making eight (8) pyramids or triangles.


                                            o                               o

                                                   o              o

Difficult, isn’t?  Seemingly, yes.  But you will realize that the solution is very simple.  In fact the clue is everywhere and we almost take it for granted because we have not really analyzed it in details. This exercise brings a simple thing to close examination, and find out how complex it really is.  This is one aspect of the power of imagination (or lack of it).  Does the exercise mean anything to you?  A period of sharing follows which may last to 10 minutes.

Exercise 16 – Search for meaning at the throes of death. (For adults only)
Now, this is a serious exercise.  It may bring out an experience we may have buried long time ago. Or it may still be fresh in our memory.  Is it worth recalling it?  Perhaps it helps us in refocusing the direction of our lives.  It is important to pause and remember our resolutions we may have failed to keep. This is the instruction.  Recall your experience when you got closest to death.  Recall what you resolved while you battled for life, and what things  you promised to keep once you get back to your feet?  Here is a solemn moment, and it is a very personal one.  An appropriate music background is in the tune of “Maalala Mo Kaya?”, “On Wings of Song”, or “The Dying Swan”.  Sharing follows. Anyone can approach the microphone while the music is being played on the violin (with or without accompaniment) and share his experience.  The solemn ambiance is sustained until the last volunteer is back to his seat.  Do you realize that you have a mission to fulfill?

Exercise 17 – Iceberg!  Sizing Up Problems
Problems, wise people say, are like icebergs.  You see only their tips.  Problems are similar.  We often underestimate them until we realize how deep they are.  By that time it may be too late to find the solutions, and the consequence is grave.  Remember the Titanic?  Here is an exercise to test how good you are in sizing up problems.  Draw a profile (cross-section) of the ocean and put in proper place an iceberg and a ship in which you imagine you are steering.  You are the captain of this ship. You are on the path of the iceberg.   Show your position in relation to the iceberg.  While you are working on this exercise, the sound track of the “Titanic” or Rachmaninoff’s “Theme from Paganini”  will be played.  Like in the other exercises there will be five major criteria to be used, namely: size of the iceberg, size of the ship, distance and position of the ship and the iceberg, floating position and shape based on physical laws such as center of gravity, proportion of the iceberg visible above water.  Sharing follows.
 Exercise 18 – Lost in the Desert
You dream you are lost in a desert.  Draw the scenario. While doing this exercise, the soundtrack of “Lawrence of Arabia” or “The Little Prince” will be played.  This will take some 10 minutes or less.  Two contrasting scenarios are expected from the group: a pathetic scene characterized by hunger, thirst, and despair, while the other is one which the Little Prince and the Pilot found – a oasis.  Sharing follows.  What are the lessons derived from this exercise?  Are you the optimistic or the pessimistic survivor?  Or did it come to your mind that you would not make it and you simply allow yourself to die in the desert?  Find out the meaning of logotheraphy.  How did Victor Frankl survive the Nazi camp ordeal.  What is the similarity of being lost in a desert?  Have you experience at one time or the other that imagination is more powerful than reason?  Or vice versa?  Which one did you follow?

Exercise 19 – Functional Versus Aesthetic Value
Cite cases where function and beauty do not come together. Limit your observation on living things, say animals.  Why is the camel an ugly looking beast?  Very few have fallen in love with a camel?  But without the camel man would not have succeeded in conquering the vast deserts like the Sahara.  The camel is the ship on the desert.  It is a very “functional” animal.  List down ten adaptations of the camel.  Draw first the animal and indicate by lines and arrows its adaptation.  What lessons other than the biological aspect of the animal?  How does this exercise relate to life?  Sharing follows.
A  lively musical background, something humorous, fits well with this exercise  

Exercise 20 - Relaxation (How tense are you?)
A Clear and Calm Morning – How relax are you today? This is an individual exercise.  The drawing consists of a docked sailboat with its sail rolled.  Trees line the water edge, promenades are relax, the air is still, the sun is just over a hill. At the foreground is water.  Imagine yourself approaching the shore.  At this point, stop and complete the view. This exercise determines how relax you are.  How can you bring yourself to reflection?  Did you leave your problems behind?  Do you still have the papers on your desk crowding your mind? Do you find time to  say thank you to some people.  When was your last retreat?
NOTE: Since these exercises are generally in a framework, there may be a  need to consult a faculty member, a workshop coordinator, or simply one in the family or community who may be able to help you work on these exercises.

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