I am a firm believer that artists need a place to go away to rejuvenate the creative spirit. They need to collect their thoughts, be inspired, dream freely and manifest what they see into the world. Without time to let the mind, body and spirit rest, creatives are often a ball of energy that if not properly released. That energy can get caught in certain places of the body. The flow can be blocked and the life of the work can be lost.
Using retreats as a respite from life's daily requirements is valuable. Being pulled to make a living (in whatever way you choose), take care of family, and even taking care of yourself can suck small amounts of energy from your creative self that adds up over time. On the flip side, to counteract that effect, simply taking a few moments to breathe in draws the energy back towards you. Taking an hour to yourself to do something that nurtures you and brings you joy brings the energy back in. Retreats don't have to be long, but simply taking time to oneself is indeed a form of self-care.
I've been going on retreats for at least 10 years. There is something about going to the mountains to breathe the fresh cool air that reinvigorates my spirit. The clutter from the city lights are gone. The noise from cars, trains and other people's energy is left behind. The North Georgia Mountains usually call me home at least once a year and when I am able I make a trip northbound. When I do time instantly slows down. Octavia Raheem, a very inspiring yoga teacher in Atlanta, hosts yoga events in that area regularly to give people a space to breathe. And throwing in a little stretching and pranayama breath work doesn't hurt either.
One of my favorite and life changing retreats was an artist residency in Portobelo, Panama with Taller Portobelo Norte. It was a residency that allowed me to create a lesson plan and workshop for a group of children in Portobelo. Together we created a story and an illustrated book. I learned so much in that two weeks - including a little Spanish - and the hosts were very helpful in making it an easy workshop for the "Gringa".
Still, retreats don't need to be long or fully involved. The main thing is that you get a break from your routine. It's important to be able to move at your own pace and roam to let your mind expand. It's important to be around like-minded people. It's important to nurture yourself in ways that help you feel healthy and well. It all comes down to time, place and opportunity. But you have to make it a priority.
I decided to plan my first retreat especially for female artists. Women, regardless of marital status, family unit or sexual orientation, tend to give energy outward and leave little for themselves. They are often wildly creative, but may lack the support that they need in regards to time, finances and physical space. Even how society views artists can create an internal and external challenge. Fortifying ourselves to be able to work through those things requires self-care. Planning retreats is one way I want to give back to help others because I know it works.
If you are interested in finding out more about the upcoming retreat, check it out at www.mymuseartsretreats.weebly.com/