It was, well, totally wonderful, and I’m already working on scheduling the next one! (Click here to get on the advance notice list.)
I’ll tell you a secret: a big reason I decided to host my own retreats was so that I could design them the way I want them to be.
One thing that has always felt really lacking in most art and writing workshops I’ve been to is any attention to the body.
Still Bodies = Stiff Bodies + Overactive Gremlins
We sit or stand all day long, painting or typing or whatever, trying to create while our bodies get more and more cramped and crunched.
Not only does this feel physically lousy, but it does not create the optimal environment for creating!
Sitting still has a way of putting you right up into your head, which is where your gremlins hang out. And when you’re hanging out in your head, surrounded by a chorus of gremlins, it makes it really hard to open up, let loose, and allow your creativity to flow.
We’re thinky creatures, living in a thinky culture, and it’s easy to think (ahem) that thinking is the way to solve creative blocks and get those pesky gremlins off your back.
In fact, though, when you want to let your creative spirit out to play, it really helps to get out of your head.
And as I experienced quite viscerally in a performance-based writing workshop I went to with Ann Randolph last year:
The fastest way to get out of your head is to get into your body. (Click to tweet this!)
(Actors know some stuff that writers and other kinds of artists would be wise to pay attention to!)
You may have noticed that taking a walk can shake up your stuckness, get ideas flowing, and make it easier to get down to work when you get back to your computer or easel or work table or whatever.
Add some silliness and fun to the mix, in the company of other open hearts, and it’s amazing how the gremlins shrink away!
So for my first Create & Incubate Retreat this past weekend, I dedicated a half hour in the morning to playful MOVING.
- We used sound and movement (but no words!) to express how we were feeling in the moment…
- We passed sound and movement around the circle, like a physical game of “Telephone”…
- We shook our tail feathers to a crazy mix of music…
And since our group ranged the gamut of physical ableness, from a trained yogini (me!) to someone with a broken foot and someone else with a recent knee replacement, I made sure the movement was such that everyone could participate.
(Did I mention we laughed a lot?)
The Surprise Benefit…
After a nasty migraine on Friday night, I woke up later than I wanted on Saturday morning, feeling a bit like I’d been attacked by a steamroller. I thought I might head straight back to bed after our morning Creative Catalyzing (aka crazy-ass movement games) session.
What I really wanted to do, though, was paint a little, then get a lot of writing done, so the idea of going back to bed made me feel pretty bummed out… I was ready to give my body what it needed, and prepared to pull out some self-compassion and forgiveness for missing out on our precious Silent Work Time…
Much to my surprise, though, a half hour of moving (and being really silly) totally rejuvenated me!
I didn’t feel so steamrollered, and I had plenty of energy to paint and write all the way to lunch, and then again (after leading an optional yoga session in the afternoon) all the way to dinner!
And: Social Proof!
I wasn’t the only one who noticed that physically moving around made a difference. Randi, an amazing mosaic artist, shared at our evening circle on Saturday night that the morning movement was her top highlight!
The day after the retreat, she wrote me this:
I was feeling psychically and creatively “constipated” by life, and Melissa, you created the perfect container to rest, recreate, commune with like-minded creative souls, and get out of my already crowded head and into my body, making it possible for ideas to rise to the surface and re-ignite my creativity and curiosity … I’m so grateful.
BIG warm hug!
Yes, movement totally does rock!
Next time you’re feeling stuck, blocked, blah, or like your gremlins have taken the wheel, try moving your body. Go on a walk, or crank up some music that makes you want to dance and shake it out, baby!
Then let me know what happens.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!