Here was the premise:
We began the retreat with a little get to know you session, I asked each mama to write a question on a slip of paper to put in a basket and pull out one at a time, we had some really great questions including who would you invite to your fantasy supper? What is your favorite building? And Name an event in your live that changed you for the better. We didn't manage to answer all the questions so saved them for use later, but it was really great to find out more about everyone there and help them to relax and get to know each other better.
We then moved into the room that we were using as a studio and began our creative session with a guided meditation. I wrote the meditation myself based on the guided meditation in "The Rainbow Way" By Lucy H. Pearce. The meditation invited the mamas on a journey to their own inner sacred creative space where they could feel safe to express their creativity. After the meditation we began the storytelling art piece I had planned. This piece was based on an exercise created by The Dulwich Centre, designed to help vulnerable young people, and is now a process used around the world. I was also inspired by the words of Nathan B. Weller when I was writing my narrative for the guided piece. The point of this exercise was to help us to focus on different aspects of our life, how we spend our time, where we have come from, our skills, dreams, hopes and the legacy we intend to leave behind us when we're gone. All these make up our story. When I was planning the activity at home it helped me realise what is important in my life and where I need to focus my attention to make the most of my life. It also helped me realise what I have to give, and how little of my energy I positively spend working on the things I want to be my legacy.
We tried to maintain the meditative feel in the room and in our own head spaces whilst I read the instructions I had written for the art piece.
When the drawing and writing part of the process was complete we opened up the space for more conversation and we added colour with chalk pastels to our Tree of Life pictures. I chose chalk pastels because their colour is so pure and vivid. We filled in our trees with the colour to transform the piece from an illustration of a process into a piece of art that is visually appealing, inspiring and uplifting.
Beautiful finished pieces:
Aren't they beautiful, and all so different and colourful.
For the mamas to came to the retreat (and anyone else who has completed the Tree Of Life exercise, here are a few activities to take the experience further:
You may have done some journaling about this already as you completed your drawing of the tree, but you can add to this after by way of reflection. From writing about where you have come from you might need to journal a bit about how your upbringing has influenced you now both positively and negatively, you could consider how negative experiences have informed your life in positive ways. As you wrote down the things you do daily you might have noticed that there aren't many things you do just for yourself each day, you might like to journal about what ways you can include more things in your day that nourish you. When considering your skills you might want to write about what skills you want to develop or new skills you would like to learn. As you reflect on your values, you might like to journal about how you are instilling these values in you children and link this to your legacy. When reflecting on your hopes and dreams consider ways in which you can achieve them. You might have had thought of things you want to do to achieve the legacies that you wrote down; things to enable you to leave behind the things you want to pass on. You can journal and list these and form goals and schedules for you to achieve them.
You might like to consider writing letters to those people in your life who have passed on legacies to you. You could thank them for what they have done and let them know how important they are to you. You could also consider writing letters to your children telling them about the legacies you wish to leave them (something for them to read in the future).
You may have found yourself particularly inspired by the use of chalk pastels in this activity and would like to experiment with them further, here are some random time lapse videos on youtube to give you some ideas and inspiration:
Also take a look at Pinterest HERE for more chalk pastel inspiration.
You might have felt inspired by the idea of trees and like to explore this further a google or Pinterest search will provide you with an abundance of inspiration and ideas. For example you could experiment with creating a blow paint tree like THIS, a hot glue gun tree like THIS, you could also explore wax crayon rubbings of the bark or leaves of the tree.
Another avenue you might like to explore in meditative art and healing art therapy.