We just concluded our yearly retreat at Wellness Within. Located just outside the Tahoe National Forest at 3500 feet, Harmony Lodge was a cozy place indeed as the rain poured down outside.
Our focus was self compassion; we spent the afternoon trading stories, thoughts and memories as participants created papier-mâché "bowls of compassion." Tears and laughter filled the room as one woman after another shared her thoughts and colorful bowl.
The bowl of compassion project is just one of the art therapy workshops that I'm offering this year at Wellness Within, a cancer support organization in Roseville, CA.
Early in the year I wanted a focus around which I could build this series of workshops. Grazing the internet, I came across Brené Brown's 10 guideposts for wholehearted living. On my first read through her book, "Gifts of Imperfection," they did not leap off the page. This time was different. Fascinated by the way the guideposts* actually offer a set of prompts to cultivate these qualities, I knew that I'd found my subject.
The Wellness Within folk are a diverse group, tied together by the commonality of a cancer diagnosis. They often arrive newly diagnosed, shocked and alone--or further along the treatment spectrum, seasoned and ready to share what they've learned with others.
I wanted the art projects and guideposts to offer each of them nourishment and a step along a path of healing.
In January, we dove into authenticity and February was the month of self-compassion. (What better way to celebrate the month of love?) Each time we meet, I'm humbled by these women's courage and fortitude, and, simultaneously buoyed up by the stories they share.
Going forward, we'll paint, print, collage and laugh our way through whatever arises on this sturdy path of months. And, as the year unfolds, we'll create practices that incorporate these guideposts in easy and practical ways.
Our next workshop at Wellness Within is on Saturday, March 11 from 10 am - 12 pm. Our focus: cultivating a resilient spirit, or: let go of powerlessness, a topic that could not be more apropos for these times. If you'd like to join us, there are still several spots open. To register, or for more information, contact Wellness Within.
*1. Cultivating authenticity: letting go of what people think 2. Cultivating self-compassion: letting go of perfectionism 3. Cultivating a resilient spirit: letting go of numbing and powerlessness 4. Cultivating gratitude and joy: letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark 5. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith: letting go of the need for certainty 6. Cultivating creativity: letting go of comparison 7. Cultivating play and rest: letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self- worth 8. Cultivating calm and stillness: letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle 9. Cultivating meaningful work: letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to” 10. Cultivating laughter, song, and dance: letting go of being cool and “always in control.”