I just returned from the Spring 2014 Saybrook University Residential Conference in San Francisco. Each semester of my Ph.D. program in Psychology / Creativity Studies begins with such a gathering; it is a time for students and faculty to come together to share knowledge and research, to network, and to bond. This was my second residential conference, and I attended seminars on Buddhism and healing; positive psychology and film; and dreamwork, including dream poetry and dream theater.
During the conference, I had the opportunity to give a presentation on Holocaust Art, based on my recent trip to Eastern Europe with my friend and mentor Jake Lorfing. We had planned the trip to explore the possibility of leading a contemplative arts retreat for photography and writing at Auschwitz. While visiting the camps at Terezin (Czech Republic) and Auschwitz (Poland), I was struck by the prevalence of art and creativity under unimaginable circumstances, prisoners’ efforts to remain connected to their humanity. Most heartbreaking to me were the exhibits of children’s art, including drawings dedicated to “Maman” and “Mutterlein” (“mother” in French and German, respectively), and the stark realization that 1.5 million Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust. Feel free to email us if you’d like to view the PowerPoint slide show I created for the Saybrook Presentation.
Also at the Saybrook conference, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating a workshop on “Embodied Creativity” with my friend and colleague Michael Brabant of Integral Awakening, who will be in Austin this week to lead a “Culture of Connection” retreat (February 7-9). Michael and I will also be offering an expanded version of the workshop we presented at Saybrook, called “Embodying the Muse: Where Creativity and Spiritual Awakening Converge” on February 6th at Soma Vida. In an intimate and inclusive setting, we’ll be exploring how movement, breathwork, and deep listening can reconnect us with our bodies and sense perceptions, thus enhancing our everyday creativity.
I am looking forward to my courses this semester, particularly “Perspectives on Creativity” with Dr. Steve Pritzker, and “Personal Mythology and Dreamwork” with Ruth Richards, M.D./Ph.D. I feel energized and inspired by the synergy between my academic studies of creativity and my work with Syncreate. I am particularly eager to explore the connections between my coursework for this semester and our upcoming “Storytelling for Life” workshop (February 23rd), as well as our spring“Deepening Your Creative Life” retreat (April 4-6). Every day seems to bring new creative insights, connections, and cross-fertilizations between my studies and my professional work.
I also recently completed a Shambhala Art Intensive and Teacher Training program in Los Angeles. Shambhala Art emphasizes direct, fresh experience of the world using the sense perceptions, a contemplative approach to creativity and art making based in meditation practice. I will be officially co-teaching my first Shambhala Art program at the Austin Shambhala Meditation Center on 19-20, 2014.
It is incredibly gratifying to me to simultaneously study, witness, experience, and facilitate the transformative power of creativity, and I look forward to a year filled with creative explorations. I hope you’ll join us for one of our upcoming creativity events!