HEARTshops

img_9727-001THE VISION

I was born with a heart murmur: My body’s way of asserting that my heart, the core of my existence, called daily for my attention. This critical and fragile organ, circulating blood and generating potential, is also – whether or not we tune in – what makes us tick. Each of us, even those of us who are largely guided by reason and the intellect (as I was for many years), possesses a unique ability to turn inwards, listen to and lead from, the heart. Our hearts are our beacons, linking us always to our deepest selves, and connecting us to the world beyond. In our hearts, we find refuge and truth, yearning and the seeds for our boldest expression of self.

Whenever my creativity has stagnated or I’ve not carved out enough time for creative expression, my heart thrums with inner knowing; through contemplation, the making of art – be it doodling, intuitive painting, journaling, visualization, movement – I will flourish again.

Stash your monkey mind behind the door. Stand up. Stake your name. Start anew.

Liberate yourself from self-imposed limits and external constraints.

Call up your spirit, unleash and express the fullest dimensions of yourself, straight from the heart.

Find joy, self-healing, increased sensory awareness and self-confidence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWHAT ARE HEARTSHOPS?

In the beginning, I led creative workshops – but creativity + work didn’t get along. So I excised “work,” so laden with negative connotations about the the drudgery of office life. Then I toyed with the idea of calling them playshops – but these gatherings transcended play per se; they were about excavating the depths of soul and experience, teasing through layers of personal history, unearthing clarity, expressing pain, observing and connecting, discovering joy and empathy, kneading out the knots of a life not fully lived.

Which is how HEARTshops came into being. Who hasn’t listened closely to their heart, and in hushed tones, acknowledged a missing piece, a yearning for something or somewhere else?

HEARTshops are not about learning art, or writing or dance; nor are they about making the best or most beautiful ‘anything.’  They invite you to tap into the deepest yearnings of your heart, and soar. Through guided intimate gatherings that encourage creative and soulful expression, you  engage your whole body in the fullest expression of its creative core; and connect to the deepest parts of your own being and heart – and to those that surround us. With one-on-one or community-centered, collaborative art-making, you will be guided to unleash your creativity and find a renewed sense of well-being and serenity.

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WHAT WE DO

HEART-centered mindfulness.

Visualization / Guided Imagery.

Expressive Arts / Intuitive Painting. * With hands-on projects, no previous arts-related experience – professional, amateur or otherwise – is required. All you need is a desire to join others in tapping into your heart – and creative spirit.*

Writing. Walking Meditation. Movement. Exploring nature. Intentional Observation. Yoga / Gentle stretching. Relaxation. Silence.

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THEMES

*Morning Art. Welcome the dawn in silent contemplation and self-expression. Unleash creativity through collaborative art-making. Bask in the wee quiet hours of the morning, greet the sun (or rain!), transition smoothly into the rest of the day.

*Creative Healing: Meeting your inner artist. Discover the healing power of art and movement. Delve into the creative process in a peaceful, supportive and non-judgmental environment.

*Cross-Cultural Awareness & Sensitivity: Deepen your awareness of connection to those of varied backgrounds – language, culture, experience, disability – through understanding, empathy and support.

*Healing from ACEs, Depression & Trauma: Unearth buried grief & beliefs. Tap into your resilience & truth. Connect to inner longings through mindfulness practice and self-expression.

*Wisdom of Girls & Women. The lives of Girls and Women can be fraught with misunderstanding, uncertainty, wavering self-esteem and confidence. But set aside the head and mind, welcome in the heart and soul – and reach for the whispers of the heart. Expressive arts are a vehicle for accessing inner strength, wisdom and compassion.

*Chronic Pain / Painless Arts HEARTshops provide an opportunity for you to explore and express your feelings and emotions as you struggle with the often-debilitating aspects of living with pain. Shared experiences can lead to greater inner strength, mutual support from peers, heightened empathy and deeper connections.

*Forgiveness: Process, practice and peace.

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MY CREATIVE SOURCE

My background in art and art education led to teaching art at summer camp and leading art classes at a village school in the jungles of Nepal – where children drew their environment; huts, birds, hippos and deer.

Later, buoyed by a broader appreciation for the arts, and a realization that the ‘education’ and ‘training’ of art was stifling creativity in too many people, I embarked on a new process – that included a no-rules approach to creative expression.

Among my community-wide arts initiatives, the September 11th Peace Quilt Project brought together quilters, artists and others into a space where they could safely and creatively gather to express grief, solidarity and hope. The quilt still hangs today in a Montreal homeless men’s shelter.

Mindful that each person’s journey is individual and subjectively experienced, I always urge participants to leave their judgments (towards themselves as to others) behind;  to refrain from using loaded words such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’; and to allow themselves to open up to the abundance of their creativity – in a safe and joyful space.

I have led workshops playshops HEARTshops in Canada, Nepal, Cambodia and Bali, Indonesia. If this process appeals to you, and you would be interested in discussing individual exploration, or small-group gatherings (via Skype too), I would love to hear from you.

Namaste.

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