by Kathleen Horne, LMHC, REACE, REAT
This is a great question to engage with, as a pathway to self-awareness and understanding. It is a question for the imagination, not for the mind. When we immerse ourselves in the natural world, with embodied presence, open hearts, attuned senses, we learn so much. We remember that we are not separate – we ARE nature.
TRY THIS….Take a few moments to notice and pay close attention to a tree in your immediate landscape. How does it grow – straight and tall? Curving outward to a wide reach? How deep are its roots? What is the texture of its bark? The size and shape of its leaves? How does this tree speak of the season of spring? Dig a little deeper and ask….what does this tree have to teach me about myself this morning? Take a moment to write your observations down in your journal or make a quick sketch.
Consider the trees that hold your own memories, the trees that live in the landscapes of your own life, the trees that have witnessed you, as you have witnessed them.
“Forests hide wonders we are only just beginning to explore.” Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees
Is there a tree that is part of your daily life? A tree in your yard, in a nearby park, or in the woods?
TRY THIS…..”Stand in front of the tree and simply take it in with all your senses. Let go of any thoughts or labels – like what kind of tree it is, or how old it is. Allow your eyes to wander from the roots, to the trunk, branches, leaves, and canopy. Interest will arise when you pay close attention to every detail, as if this were the first time you were seeing a tree….After some time, begin to explore the tree intimately with all of your senses. Close your eyes and engage your sense of smell. Notice the scent of the bark, the leaves, and the roots. Then engage the sense of touch, closing your eyes and allowing your hands to explore the tree, like you would the skin of a lover or the contours of a face….Feel every nook and cranny of the bark, and any moss or ferns that may be living on the tree. Feel the strength and solidity of the tree in your body – feel the density of the earth element. Sense how the roots sink into the earth. Touch the leaves with your fingers, palms, and the skin of your face.” (Mark Coleman, Awake in the Wild, 2006)
Coleman invites us to pay close attention, cultivate mindfulness, and engage beginner’s mind, as we discover the tree as a pathway to discover and embody our inter-connectedness with Nature, and experience ourselves as part of the greater whole.
Peter London (Drawing Closer to Nature) leads us into encounters with nature through close observation, guided imagery, and visual art explorations. “A tree – the behemoth of the green world. The oldest living thing. The tallest living thing. The strongest living thing.” London likens trees to wizened grandparents who watch over our human antics, enduring and silent. He says: The analogy between the personalities of trees as displayed by their forms and habits of growth and the personalities of humans as displayed by their cast of mind and consequential behaviors, has been observed throughout literature and theologies. In the Kabbalah, the divine order of the universe is symbolized by the Tree of Life, with its emanations correlated with spiritual attributes and parts of the human body.” (London, Drawing Closer to Nature, 2003)
The arts, and, especially the expressive arts (visual art, movement, voice, rhythm, music, writing, poetry, enactment, photography, meditation) connect us with ourselves, and with the natural world that we are part of.
Art is a pathway to remembering what many indigenous cultures knew. “In many indigenous cultures there was no word for nature, because indigenous people did not experience outer wilderness as some “thing” separate and distinct from themselves; instead, they lived immersed within it.” (Coleman, 2006)
Back to the question:
TRY THIS…. Do this outdoors, and barefoot, if you are comfortable with that.
Stand, with your feet solidly planted on the ground. Close your eyes or soften your gaze. Tune in to the cycle of your breath, allowing your breath to take your point of awareness more deeply inside. Imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet down into the earth. How wide do they spread? How deep do they go? Feel the energy of the earth moving up through those roots and into your body, moving up through your core, your trunk, your spine, your limbs, up into your neck, your head, and continuing up and out the top of your head and into the sky, the heavens. Continue breathing deeply and imagine that energy coming back down from the sky and in through the top of your head, moving back down through your entire body and back into your roots, and the earth. Stand. Breathe. Grounded. Embodied. Here. Fully alive. Present. Notice the temperature of the air, the breeze on your skin, the sounds around you. Notice how your feet feel as they connect with the ground. Begin to more fully imagine yourself as a tree – sense your roots…your trunk….your limbs, branches. Feel the life blood of the earth within you. Sense the girth of your trunk. Notice…how tall are you? How do you grow? Straight up? Branching out widely, creating shade? Allow any movement to come in response. Allow your arms to express the way your branches grow, and move. Be curious about your leaves – what do they look like when they are still, and how do they move in the breeze, or the strong winds? What about your flowers, your fruits? What happens as the seasons change? Take a few more moments to experience yourself as a tree, allowing yourself to be curious, and even surprised. Then move to your art materials, and discover your tree on paper. Allow its form and color to emerge spontaneously. It may resemble an actual tree, or your imagination may bring into form something brand new. Take as much time as you need. Then write, starting with the words “I am” in the voice of the tree.
After you have completed this experience, ask yourself:
Share, if you like, on our FB page, Your Personal Expressive Arts Practice.
DO YOU WANT MORE OF THIS?
Tamara Teeter Knapp and I are facilitating The Landscape of Expressive Arts at Hollyhock, B.C., May 31 to June 5. You will immerse yourself in the pristine natural setting, and explore the expressive arts as means to connect your inner landscape with the outer landscape. You will engage in art, movement, writing, sound, rhythm, meditation, both indoors and outdoors. You will discover places in the landscape – ocean, beach, forest and garden – that call out to you and invite you deeper into them, and deeper in to yourself. Over the 5 days, you will reflect on all of your experiences in the creation of a personal tree that contains and embodies your journey.
The image below is from last year’s Hollyhock Workshop. This year, in this brand new workshop, you will be creating a ‘life-sized’ tree, instead of a self-portrait. Imagine….
Coleman, Mark: Awake in the Wild, Inner Ocean Publishing, 2006
London, Peter: Drawing Closer to Nature, Shambhala, 2003
by Kathleen Horne and Tamara Teeter Knapp
(with Terry Edgerton and Julia Alexander)
How do you savour the experience, hold on to the magic, and embody the changes you make?
How do you take this experience back into your daily life, and both protect and share the benefits?
Terry and Julia share their answer – creative journals!
When we invest our resources – time, money, creative energy – into a very special experience that takes us from the rhythm of our daily life and immerses us in a carefully held and crafted space, we remember ourselves at a deep level. We come away feeling “changed”. We want to savor that change and hold on to our re-vitalized self. We want to both protect and share the good energy and the deep learning, and allow it to flow into our own lives and the lives of others – family, loved ones, clients, students.
When we travel, to new landscapes or cultures, or sacred experiences, we re-c0nnect with what is most important to us. When we gather in circles with others to create, explore, get quiet, listen deeply, we are changed. Setting aside sacred time and space to creatively encounter the most important questions re-awakens our purpose and unique gifts. In order to live lives of integrity and meaning, It is essential to draw on our deepest source of wisdom and share that in the world. This is how change happens, and how it grows.
We recently had the opportunity to meet with Terry and Julia, who participated in our Hollyhock workshop last summer. We are so inspired by their creative journals, that we asked them to share, so that others may benefit as well.
Terry and Julia have each been creating their “Hollyhock journals” over the past 7 months, since returning from last year’s expressive arts immersion. Using photographs, art, and creative writing, they have re-created that sacred space in tangible form, allowing them to revisit, to share, and to harvest the benefits. Watch, and listen….
When you witness Terry’s and Julia’s journals, do you sense their love, care, and dedication? ? Their investment in their own growth and change is clear. They are each continuing to work in these journals over time, as they harvest the deep learning into their lives. Their journals are creative artifacts that allow them to keep alive the threads of deep inquiry that happened at the Hollyhock workshop last year.
Are you coming to Hollyhock or going on a special journey or creative immersion?
Here are some suggestions for savoring your experience :
Before you go….
While you are away….
When you return….
How am I carrying this experience forward in my life?
What is one lesson I learned that I will always remember?
How does this experience change the way I show up in the world?
This year, we will be facilitating The Landscape of Expressive Arts at Hollyhock, May 31 to June 5.
This will be an opportunity to connect with yourself through connection with the natural world. The arts – visual, writing, movement, sound, rhythm, guided meditation – will be your pathway to learning and change. We welcome you to join us, and we invite any questions you may have. email@example.com
See all the Hollyhock programs at www.hollyhock.ca
“My participation in the 2018 Dive into Expressive Arts workshop continues to inform my journey. I truly believe in the healing, transformative and connective powers of this work. Making the video was a welcome opportunity to continue to reflect, process and distill the Hollyhock adventure and connections. It keeps on giving!- Julia A.
By Kathleen Horne
A beginning is an opening for surprises. Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen. What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen?
The New Year is an opportunity to set a new course for ourselves. Emerging from the darkness of the Solstice, the change of the calendar invites change in ourselves.
RESOLUTION Have you made New Year’s resolutions? I think most of us have. Did you succeed in meeting them? The dictionary tells us that “resolution” is a determination to do something or not do something”.
My own track record with these beginning-of the-year resolutions to ‘do better’ in some way has usually been to abandon them early on. At some point I would do something that I had resolved not to, or not do something that I had resolved to do, and that would likely mean the end of my resolution. I might give it another try or two, but I can’t think of any time where I experienced more success than failure.
For me the energy of the word “resolution” is one of gritting my teeth, exerting my will power, and holding, or contraction. A resolution seems to come from a place of needing to fix something. This kind of energy, I find, rarely serves me well.
INTENTION What about the word “Intention”? A quick dictionary search brings up: “An aim that guides action”. “Intention”, for me, carries a different kind of energy than “resolution”. It feels like an expansion, rather than a contraction. Intention isn’t about not-doing, and in some ways, not even about doing. It is about getting clear, discerning, paying attention to what is trying to emerge deep within, and planting that in the world. It is positive. It is more about actualization, and less about limitation. I discover my deepest intention by allowing myself to enter the mystery of darkness, to mine my imagination, to allow my imagery to arise, revealing to me the gifts of my creative wisdom.
Resolution is about forcing. Intention is about discovering, clarifying, honing, and allowing, and guiding. Resolution comes from the outside. Intention comes from the inside.
There is an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes lives from within.
Intention implies trust. In the flow of our lives, there is a deeper knowing than we are aware of consciously. Even when external circumstances seem to be pointing us in one direction, or when we are mired in confusion or uncertainty, there is always a deep river of knowing moving beneath the surface. How do we access that river? I get there through dreams, through the body, and through the arts. The most reliable way for me to discover and connect with what is going on at a deeper level is to spend a few minutes in meditation, and then to make a visual image, explore that image in my body, and write from the voice of the image. Sometimes, I also use sound or rhythm exploration as part of this. What is revealed is what I have come to call my creative wisdom. If you haven’t tried this, I invite you to.
To support you in creating an intention and allowing it to carry you forward, we have 3 options for you:
1. Setting Your Intention with Expressive Arts online workshop, which includes
2. Our live-in-the-studio Intention Setting event. Coming up this year on January 30.
3. This simple practice to get you started.
by Kathleen Horne
Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.
What is it about a natural, pristine setting, that makes a perfect venue for entering into the deep exploratory creative space of Expressive Arts?
As I sit, now, experiencing the shoreline, the cedar trees, the sparkling water and soft breeze, tuned in to all my senses, a single word arrives: Spacious. For me, to explore myself creatively, I need and want some space. What that means is the freedom to attend to myself, witness my own shifting moods and emotions, attend to the needs of my body, notice my inhale and exhale. I may move more slowly, attuning myself to my own rhythm. I may rest more, take more walks and swims, pay attention to the moon, stars, and tides, and remember my dreams. I am likely to eat locally grown food, and stop on the road or path to have actual conversations with people in the course of my day.
Another word arrives. Held. This word speaks of containment. It means soft, loving, yet firm boundaries around me, positioning me in a place where I really am free to explore. A container that doesn’t constrict me in any way, yet gently holds me so that I know I am safe, cared for, and valued. A container that I can trust, appreciate, and not have to think about. A container I can count on, as a gentle, loving, unobtrusive presence. A container within which I feel free.
Spacious containment. The natural world holds me, offers me an intimate remembering of rhythms – cycle of the days, of the moon, of the tides, the seasons. By being with those rhythms, I feel the echo of them deep within me, attuning me to myself. Not the self I think I should be, but the self I am, in this moment. The natural world bathes me in expansiveness, vastness, possibility.
When I am in this spacious state, I am aware of, in tune with my own creativity. The images of the outside, literal world echo and resonate within me, bringing forth images of the imaginal world, sometimes surprising me as they show up on paper on canvas. I do not tune out the sounds of my environment – I invite them in to become a part of my ever evolving inner landscape.
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
Cortes Island, in its wild, natural beauty, opens me up to my own creative possibilities and attunes me the natural cycles of the earth, and of myself. On August 29-September 2, Tamara Teeter Knapp and I will guide a creative immersion workshop here on Cortes, at Hollyhock.
I cannot imagine a more perfect container for a dive in to Expressive Arts. Hollyhock is operated and managed in harmony with the land and sea that it is built on. When you come to Hollyhock, you are held – gently and beautifully. The setting of forest and sea, the accommodations, the staff, the magnificent garden and the exquisite food – ah! – this is a place where you can fully experience the spaciousness and expansiveness of nature, while knowing there is a wonderfully crafted container that holds and supports you in your inner journey.
Maybe you will join us here. (we hope so :-))
Or, maybe you will be inspired to find yourself somewhere, in a beautiful, natural spot – a place where you can experience spaciousness. A place where you are held in beauty. Your creativity will flourish and you will be renewed.
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. Hal Borland
Kathleen Horne and Tamara Teeter Knapp are two of the three co-founders of Expressive Arts Florida Institute, an internationally-acclaimed certificate training program in intermodal expressive arts. www.expressiveartsflorida.com
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch these 2 videos on the Hollyhock blog
Want an introduction to Hollyhock?
Kathleen and Tamara, our wonderful facilitators/teachers/guides, created a welcoming, safe, and inclusive atmosphere for this amazing workshop. I quickly shed any reservations I had about participating in the various forms of creative, expressive activities. The moments we shared in their presence provided opportunities for learning, creating, and reflecting that I found to be transformational. This program surpassed my expectations and I feel so fortunate to have been a participant. Carolyn S., 2017 workshop participant at Hollyhock
In the middle of a busy day, Tamara goes to her expressive arts practice to check in and re-center.
What does it take? Five minutes of time, a little space to move, a paper taped to the wall and a box of crayons.
You don’t have to be a dancer, or an artist. You can find your own practice, in your own way, and within your capabilities. Pause, and listen within. Your body holds the wisdom. Colors and marks on the paper make it visible. Words come spontaneously, bringing a message.
Breathe. Exhale. You can do this.
A short creative pause can change your day.
Are you ready for a brief introduction or a deep immersion?
Join us live and online for our next Expressive Arts Discovery Virtual Workshop.
Join Tamara Teeter Knapp and Kathleen Horne at Hollyhock: