The workshop was structured around four weekly themes of tactility, light, sound, and dwelling. Each theme was designed to engage our subtle senses through an appreciation of our nuanced experiences of daily activities and our surrounding environment. Themes, methods and exercises were introduced on Monday morning and we re-grouped on Friday afternoon to share our experiences.
We gave a suggestive duration for each exercise — manageable amounts of time to encourage participants to carve out a distinct time within their daily activities. In addition to these exercises, a short daily practice of pebble making was offered to introduce our approach to making. We maintained a repetition of the daily exercises each week — a steady pattern of sharing materials, applying methods, and reflecting on practice together.
The first independent activity of the week was to access the provided reading material, which was the first step in bringing our attention to the theme, for example, Embodied Tactility. Along with our own introductions and talks, the reading material seemed essential in capturing attention and encouraging an open mind towards the theme. Our process was carefully planned in a way that supported the individual path and directed attention towards within. Just like returning to the rhythm of the breath, the weekly activities were seen as a slow process of inhaling and exhaling, focusing on sensory perception, and recognizing the intrinsic qualities discovered or rediscovered in one’s experience.
Directing the practitioner’s focus in such aspects as personal connections to material and environment began as a slow, gradual process. As the workshop was conducted online and the participants were in their homes and studios, we could start building these connections within familiar surroundings and the rhythms of daily life. Being in a familiar environment also made it safe for participants, supporting a process of turning the focus toward within without any social pressure of performing before others or the distractions that this naturally brings.
One of the main efforts was to encourage participants to ‘stay within the process’. Often the decisions when planning the workshop were made from this point of view: how do we keep the focus on the embodied experience, rather than following the urge of the creative mind that seeks outcomes, forms, and conclusions. Simply encouraging slowness and a sense of ‘just staying where you are’ (focusing on the body), without the need to ‘progress’ in the usual senses were important aspects throughout. Slowing down to appreciate a new level of detail would enable us to reveal connections or tap into one’s memory of past experiences: What was it in that made me want to touch, feel, mould, and make?
In the metaphor of the breath, we drew attention to the steadiness and continuity of this bodily process, as well as the ‘inward’ and ‘outward’ directions that it implied. On the inward, we recognized a process of reaching in — of slowly taking in one aspect at a time, a process of discovery where we brought attention to the experience within our body; on the outward, we recognized a process of reaching out — of connecting and reconnecting to our surroundings and the value in sharing our personal insights with others.