Do Less, Be More is a series of seasonal retreats which align internal transformative processes with the natural rhythms of the seasons. They offer a facilitated, yet self-directed process, informed by a variety of contemplative and embodied traditions delivered by an interdisciplinary team. The ethos is one of learning by doing, experimenting, reflecting, and sharing. The approach is informed by the pedagogy suggested by Ferrer et al. (2005), as well as the broad experience of the facilitators (Dr. Tamara Russell and Trudi Simpson).

 “I felt so privileged to be part of it and the magic of human interactions was healing by itself. We learnt and grew just by being around each other, trying to overcome our own limitations and fears and developing courage. Creativity is so powerful!”
Claire, Neuroscientist and Holistic Practitioner

Do Less, Be More is the work of deep embodiment – doing, feeling, and sensing the body (in relation to self, others and the natural world). The practices combine embodied mindfulness and creativity across a variety of bespoke explorations, aligned to seasonal energies.

Here, we share experiences and insights from our first Do Less, Be More Creative retreat offered in Autumn 2021, and give a sneak preview of our Winter offering (Do Less, Be More Rooted Winter, February 2022). We outline the theoretical and psychological safety container offered for this work, provide some examples of practices, and share insights and work from participants.

Do Less, Be More Creative explored the tasks of Autumn.

 “In many lands across the globe, Autumn is the time to prepare the soil for the new harvesting cycle. The soil is scrabbled, cleansed of old roots and stones, and, if necessary, fertilized. Then the new seeds are planted in the soil. In the human creative cycle, Autumn is the time for preparing the physical body to be a solid and porous receptacle for the germination of new vital seeds.”
Ferrer et al. (2005)

The intention of the retreat was to plant the seeds of creativity deep in the body/mind matrix. Each individual was given a portfolio at the start of the retreat and encouraged to explore their relationship to creativity. We had a range of experience in the group – from a working artist, to an individual who had never been to a retreat before and did not consider himself to be creative. Several had real fears about approaching creative practice (or working with a new media). Templates and reference works were used to seed ideas and scaffold an entry into creative practice for those who needed it.

“Having my own portfolio felt special and encouraged a feeling of wanting to be creative and also made me take the theme of creativity seriously”
Mary Louise, Mindfulness in Education Practitioner

In a retreat such as this, it is vital to offer support for those who wish to journey at different paces. We are all on our own unique journeys. We can travel together, but may need to go at different speeds. We used the “Three Cs” from Tamara’s Tools to Transform program which invites a mindset of Curiosity, Courage and Compassion.  These orientations can be particularly helpful as the act of creating often puts us in touch with fears of being judged, not being good enough, and comparing ourselves to others.

 “It was for me a beautiful and freeing experience. I really got out of my comfort zone with the ‘artwork’ having always said ‘I don’t do art’  (as in arts and crafts – with paint, crafts etc!). And I surprised myself how free I was able to be – especially dropping my throttling perfectionism and feeling free enough to just go with it all in limited time – and not judge my performance or compare to others!”
Jo, Poet and Mindfulness Practitioner

Mindful movement was a core part of the retreat. Each morning commenced with mindful movement and we also moved mindfully through the natural environment as we walked together through fields and lanes. Embodied, yet open awareness allowed the smells, sights and sounds of nature to permeate conscious experience and provide the prompts for the creative unfolding.

 

Trudi Simpson, Tamara Russell and Fernanda Terra, are part of the ViCePh(3) artist collective. The ViCeP(h)3 collective formed in 2021 as a response to the pandemic and the need to harness the power of immersive, participatory embodied creative practice and art for collective healing. We are women. We are embodied visceral, cerebral, physical, and heart artists who feel and work in profound ways with the body in motion and the movements and experiences of life and death.

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