Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, "I believe that true identity is found . . . in creative activity springing from within." This speaks deeply to my belief that creativity and mindfulness can help us deepen our inner relationship as we find our way in this wacky, wonderful, hard, beautiful world.
Over the years, I've hosted quite a few retreats, and I learned how important it is to talk about how we can take what we've experienced during our time away from our daily lives and recreate a piece of the experience at home. I encourage the women I work with to take an afternoon every month or so and carve out some time, even if just for two hours, that is devoted to creative play and reconnection with themselves.
As I get ready to go on a retreat this week - this time as a participant instead of a host - I thought it would be fun to share a template for you to use to create your own creative retreat afternoon for one.
First, gather something inspiring to read that will get you in the mood to dive into taking care of yourself.
I almost always start with poetry or blessings that help me set an intention for the day. A few favorites:
- To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue
- Any book by Mary Oliver
- Prayers of Honoring by Pixie Lighthorse
Maybe you'll want to gather several creative books (like the examples I show in the photo above, including Inner Excavation) or others that inspire you that you can peruse through during your afternoon. Magazines like Flow, Womankind, and Happinez can be fun too.
Warm up with some simple creative play.
Consider starting with a photo walk. Get outside with your camera (or phone) and notice the beauty around you. Take about 10-20 photos (or more) and just have fun. You might want to:
- Take a self-portrait or two.
- Find something green, something purple, something citrus.
- Find your shadow.
- Find a heart.
- Find your senses.
Another idea is to start with a writing warm-up. Take out a notebook and set a timer for 5-10 minutes and just start writing. Don't pick your pen up, just get all the thoughts onto the page. This is actually a great exercise to do at any point during the day. You can use it when you feel stuck or if thoughts of what you "should" be doing pull on you. Think of it like a brain dump that will free you to get back to creative play.
Add in something colorful to your creative play. Gather a few art supplies. These can be really simple, like crayons, colored pencils, a blank sketchbook or notebook, watercolors and watercolor paper. You also might want to gather some collage supplies like magazines, a glue stick, journal, photos, and other fun things.
If you are new to this kind of creative play, here are some prompts to help you get started. With each prompt you can collage a page with images and words from magazines, draw, make lists in different colors or markers, just write your response, paint whatever comes to mind, and so on. Choose one and go for it:
- I am...
- My secret dream is...
- I hope...
- The colors of my life...
Gather a few nourishing foods that you love and that will give you energy. This can be another form of creative play as you choose the colors, little bowls and plates, etc and make it special for yourself. Think about adding in fruit and protein and even some chocolate.
Most importantly, listen to what your body needs and nurture it.
Finish your day with something grounding. A few ideas:
- Sit in the quiet and take five deep breaths.
- Journal for a few minutes with a prompt like "I want to remember" or "In this moment, I..."
- Go on 10-minute walk and notice what you find.
- Stand outside barefoot and feel the earth beneath your feet.
Consider closing your day with a commitment to creating space for more afternoons like this one. Maybe even put the next one on your calendar.
If you enjoyed this post and would like even more ideas about creating your own retreat (for a few hours or even a weekend), let me know in the comments and I'll work on some more posts like this one.