When Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset guest, Sandia asked me if she could offer twice daily art and craft meditation sessions at the retreat, I was feeling overwhelmed with all my last minute planning but told her as long as she would bring everything needed and take care of everything, I would put her on the schedule since I had been considering offering some sort of meditative practice at the retreat anyway.
When we were at the retreat, I took great joy in seeing the little groups that joined Sandia in the outdoors to get inspired by nature and the tranquility of our setting. Then my friend Laurel showed me her "Zentangles" (see above black and white photo) and I was so excited that my guests were getting to do something creative. I was super busy managing the retreat the whole week so never got to join any of the groups and was a bit envious on our rainy afternoon that one group was huddled around a table in the dining room working on their mosaic art.
The last night, I went over to the group sitting area to play Pictionary and I found Sandia and a few remaining guests were finishing off their mosaic pieces. Suddenly I was completely inspired to do a mosaic of my own that would capture images and words that would be a very personal representation of my experience creating and running this first THF multi-day retreat. It had been many years since I was inspired to create any kind of art other than photography and I had forgotten how wonderful it is to get lost in a project. We had limited time before we were all going to pass out from our active day, so I was particularly touched that my remaining guests threw the thought of playing pictionary out the window and all pitched in to help me create my mosaic. What a lovely last evening and I now have something so meaningful hanging next to my desk in my office to remind me of one of the greatest accomplishments of my life - putting on a multi-day health retreat for an incredible group of people.
This thank you post has been a looong time coming and you may notice I haven't completed a blog post since right after the retreat. It's because I jumped right into my wedding season after the retreat and never gave myself time to reflect and recover. As I've taken some time off for summer vacation, I've slowly regained my energy and with it has come a glimpse of my former creativity. I've never considered myself a conceptual artist preferring to compose photographic images of what I see with my eye in real life, but about a month ago I was on a meditative hike in one of the Bay area's regional parks and I saw some fallen Eucalyptus leaves on the trail. They were purple! I was so enthralled that I started collecting them and when I did so, I starting coming up with an idea of how to arrange them on the trail. In homage to the Tibetan Sand Mandala tradition and much of the Burning Man art I've seen, I planned on throwing the leaves in the air and destroying it when I was done. I was a little relieved that I had my phone and could take a picture of it and post it on Instagram. Thinking about Instagram was not exactly meditative, but worth it! You'll find it pictured above.
This past Sunday my husband didn't want to go on a hike and I was at first a little bummed, but I really do like hiking in solitude and once again found myself inspired by nature. I looked up at a dead branch on a bay laurel tree and liked the way the leaves looked. I started looking on the ground and noticed that the bay leaves had a nice color once they fell and was inspired to create the dahlia looking art with the fallen bay leaves. These too I threw up in the air when I was done, but the process of creating in such a gorgeous place was so incredibly relaxing, inspiring and yes - once again meditative. In fact I ended up sitting in the dirt not caring that I was getting really dusty. When suddenly I heard someone say my name, I was so engrossed that when I looked up I actually couldn't remember the name of the woman who was saying hello even though I had just mentioned her to someone the week before. It was like I was in a little trance and I didn't even get embarrassed that I didn't say her name right away. Just stood up, brushed myself off and waited calmly for her name to come back to me while chatting.
So thank you, Sandia. I think there was a reason I didn't write this post sooner. I hadn't yet realized quite what you did for me at my own retreat. I put the retreat together for my guests to heal themselves, but there were things my guests did for me that opened me up in ways I thought were buried so deep that they were gone forever, but there they were - waiting to be discovered again.
So sincere in my gratitude - Julie
BTW - Here is my favorite piece of Burning Man art that was created just for art's sake and for the attendees that week. I had never seen or experienced a piece of art that was so impressively big, gorgeous, organic and interactive. I couldn't believe my ears when I went back to see it at night and it was a rave. Of course I went inside to dance! I can't even remember if I was there when it was burned to the ground (on purpose!) at the end of the week, but it's one of my favorite concepts at Burning Man. Just like the Tibetan Monks - creating art for art's sake and then sending it off into the universe never to be seen again. There's something so beautiful about that process.
I also loved that it was immediate dubbed "The Belgian Waffle" that week. It was a Belgian artist that created it and it just looked so much like the texture of a waffle.
Pictures picked up off of the internet because I didn't have a camera with me and believe it or not, this was before cell phones!
"Uchronia" by Jan Kriekels