The magic ingredient
We recently held some workshops at terrealuma, aiming to regenerate body and soul. That's a big aim - how exactly to regenerate body, soul and creativity too? - but it happens in incremental steps, cell by cell of the body, moment by moment with each breath. We ate nourishing food, some of us drank Chinese herbs prescribed for us, we started the day with some chanting and Taoist sounding at the top of the hill, and after breakfast we plunged into the Creative Regeneration process, meditating, focusing in pairs (identifying, speaking and being with the felt senses in our bodies), freewriting and free-painting. At night we stared into the fire. Weather permitting, we did it all outside.
All the practices we did were powerful, tried and tested methods of regeneration - waking up our organism's potential on all levels at once, waking it from the sleep of disconnection and dissociation we've all fallen into to some extent, giving our power to some mistaken concept of convenience (the technology, food and medical industries have got really good at marketing this). But despite the efficacy of all the techniques - meditation in particular having a stunningly long track record - I think the magic ingredient was nature.
Nature is what we are
I don't mean nature as series of things to be consumed or extracted from - 'the trees gave me this!' 'The stream gave me that!' I mean that as we practiced outside, we experienced ourselves as we are - nature. Free exchange with the air, endless air, not contained by walls, discomfort that caused us to shift our position and think outside the box as furniture was not available - we crouched, leaned and lay around our sheets of paper as we painted, in contact with the earth. After we'd finished our meditation, our writing, our painting, we lay back, one by one on the ground and stared at the clouds as they changed, at the horizon, it seemed the natural and only thing to do.
Measurements of time became inexact and time itself seemed to stretch and intensify according to different laws, or it stopped following laws altogether. We did all meet up at the top of the hill for activities in the order we'd decided, we appeared for meals when we were hungry, and that wasn't random, we followed the movements of sun and moon, in a sense it ran like clockwork, but the actual hours differed, day to day, and some days were universally agreed to be much, much longer than others. Often a day would be experienced more like a week, we could barely remember the start of it as it finished. We also slept a lot in the afternoons, quite spontaneously and sometimes all at the same time.
This experience of being without rules and standardised time, doing meaningful things out of the intrinsic desire to do them and following our bodies' needs at all times, was I think the most important element in our regeneration. It didn't mean everyone was in a good mood all the time. It was more that people were in accord with themselves, with their own natures, as we were in accord with the environment, although sometimes it wasn't comfortable at all, and after a huge rainstorm in the night we were glad to leave our tents and caravans, light the stove and spend a morning inside.
Stopping the fight against nature, the organism regenerates
Flexibility, adaptability, and a kind of non-interventionist attitude, this is how nature works, and going against it is exhausting. Hence stopping going against it, not fighting to make things on time, to make people how we want them to be, to make things absolutely comfortable and convenient and without struggle, to control for the sake of control - it's a fantastic relief and it allows the organism to regenerate itself as organisms go to great lengths to do.
There's no need to be afraid of not being in control, for a start you're not anyway! In this week-long experiment I started to develop a little more trust that people do have a deep instinct to create, connect and look after themselves and each other.