Retreat and Reflection to Start the New Year
It’s a new year, and if you’re like most people, you’re either making new resolutions or resolutely deciding not to. But let’s face it—many of us take the opportunity to begin a new calendar year to reflect on our lives and creative projects and start to think ahead about what opportunities, books, blogs and projects we want to commit to. It helps to weave our right and left brain together as we consider our ideas. To feed the right brain process, we need to get into a reflective mode and take some time to refresh and reconnect with our creative flow.
The first weekend of the year, I attended a writing retreat that offered time to write and time for silence and meditation. We were invited to sample the art materials at the center, which included paper making, collage, and calligraphy. The focus was on going inside our own silent creative process. We had our own small room and plenty of time to write, but we also had group time when we could share bits from our journals, make paper and create collages together. There were even “adult” coloring books with complex mandalas and flowers. I couldn’t believe that I spent over an hour coloring! It was so refreshing and fun. The retreat was not about production, it was about taking the time to slow down, reflect, re-energize, and reconnect with what needed to come through us. We need to be able to do this in our daily lives too.
Committing ourselves to an ongoing practice of inner listening enhances our creativity. There is so much stimulation in our lives now—TV screens, tablets, phones, loud musak in every store—it’s hard to tune out so much noise. The challenge in “everyday” life is to find ways to connect with our creative muse regularly, to create openness and enough silence to hear our emerging thoughts and ideas. I made a promise to myself that I would turn off the noise makers every day, and early in the evening. It was refreshing to make more time to sit in silence to listen in to what I might want to write.
• Find some time to walk in a garden, slowly putting one foot in front of the other, keeping your focus only on your steps, and banishing thinking from your mind. When you start thinking or obsessing, focus on a flower or tree branch and take a deep breath to return to the present moment.
• Take a long luxurious bath, staying in the moment as you listen to the water and feel it relax your body. Sink into the quiet and the warmth of this time to be with yourself.
• Set aside moments to write in your journal, time to reflect, let go, or create something new several times a week.
• Buy flowers to put in vases around your house and enjoy the fragrance and colors they add to your environment. Write a poem or sketch your flowers.
• Turn off your screens—TV, computer, tablets, and phones during the day if you keep them on “for company” and again early in the evening. Lessen the amount of time you are stimulated by electronics. Read or write in your journal during that time.
• If you like to draw, paint, sculpt, work with clay, save some time each week to go non-verbal and listen to what your art wants to manifest.
• Buy a beautiful journal and give yourself permission to write in it—whatever needs to come out. Don’t save it for “perfect” writing!