“…everything in life is speaking…there is nothing which is silent…the word is not only what is audible to us, but the word is all.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
For the last 5 years, I’ve been putting together this annual mindful writing retreat for TRC. Every year the structure changes as I pick up new exercises from here and there and try different approaches. But the main variations depend on the special flavour which each group creates together. The blend of unique individuals creates its own particular taste: salt and spicy, or mellow and warm.
This year, again, we sat together, walked together, wrote and read together. Writing can be a solitary thing, and if one wants to write one needs to get used to one’s own company; but writing in a group creates its own magic. We make space for each other, allowing ourselves to make discoveries: sometimes shocking, sometimes funny, often illuminating. There’s also an instant audience when we read back what we wrote and the group holds our explorations. We use writing as a way of listening – to the world, each other, ourselves…
Since last year’s retreat, we’ve also been trying different forms of embodied creativity, bringing moving into the mix. We danced the 5 rhythms – Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness – and then wrote them out, letting the music wash through us as we rode the rhythm of our words, noticing the flow changing what and how we write.
Sometimes writing is like walking a treadmill, you plod along and watch the clock; other times it’s jogging through a new city, every corner a discovery. And sometimes we write, breathlessly, sprinting, anxiously chasing ideas, trying to catch up and capture them. Still other times writing can be like hiking a vast landscape, we marvel in awe at the expanse of space we’re in, while staying quietly confident of our ability, step by step, moment by moment, to reach our destination.
After walking the wintry Marico landscapes with Pippa, we gathered around the fire reading poems we loved and reflecting on essays by Ginsberg, Trungpa and others. Here’s what Lin Cassidy wrote:
Just be here –
Be here with tired arms and warm torso and cool legs,
Be here with ears ringing and far-off crow.
Just be here with – “oh, my headache’s gone” and “how beautiful the scent of jasmine is” and “thinking again”.
Be here with gratitude and the invasion of new ideas and the mental twitching and the comfort of belonging in the silence and emptiness.
We really had a most wonderful group this year. Thanks to all the participants who made it so special – Lucy, Lin, Nuño, Rizwana, Nereida, Saar, and my own beloved parents, Dietrich and Ingrid. Everybody brought their own flavour to the pot. We let it simmer and then we tasted – perfect!
“pen is moving,
words are moving,
mind is moving …”
(apologies to Paul Reps, Zen Bones)
Anton Krueger, Nov 2019
Thank you to Lin Cassidy for the photos
Anton will be again facilitating his Mindful Writing course First Thought, Best Thought from the 21st to the 26th of August 2020 (with a shorter weekend option).