Mindful Artists Network


Weekend retreat "The Heart of Creativity - Mindfulness & the Arts" July 2014


A report on a creativity retreat by Patricia Diaz and Yvonne Fuchs


"The Heart of Creativity: Mindfulness & The Arts" retreat  took place on the outskirts of Berlin from 17th  to 20th July at  Quelle des Mitgefühls, a beautiful practice centre dedicated to Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition. The retreat was organised by the Mindful Artists Network, the local sangha, core facilitators Susanne Olbrich and Aleksandra Kumorek with the attendance of Sister Jewel.

The theme of retreat was based on Thay’s book Love Letter to the Earth and the participants were invited to create a piece of creative group work and present it to the rest of attendees at the end of the retreat. Starting from the premise that artists have always looked at the Earth for inspiration, the participants could interpret the theme in many different ways. The final improvise performances were rich on the explorations of the theme and surprised and delighted all of the participants: from a Mayan version of a sacred ritual to an act played by a frog taking a mystical journey to the wonders of the Earth in the hands of a puppeteer.The retreat was attended by about thirty people mostly from Germany and few from UK across all the creative disciplines from writing to music, art,drama, film, photography, design and dance. The programme included early morning yoga, mindful creative exercises, walks in the forest and sharing in groups. Daily Dharma talks were facilitated by sister Jewel on nourishing our creativity, looking after our motivation and developing our volition as artists as well as looking at our intentions and the experiences that form our art.

As professional artist we have the opportunity to share our work by exhibiting it, displaying it and performing it to the group and as part of the retreat we participated in creating the most delicious vegan food that was also presented in artistic and appealing way, a true highlight!

At the end of the four days a great sense of friendship and joy was created amongst the participants and the retreat ended with a circle dance of peace and the desire to create a network that will keep us connected in our creativity and our practice. The aspiration is to grow this network of mindful artists in the UK and in Germany. We hope to meet you next year.  



Weekend Retreat  "The Heart of Creativity - Mindfulness & the Arts" in June 2013



The work of artists, creative practitioners and those working in the media has an impact on the collective consciousness. But which seeds are being watered?  What would it look like to live and
work according to Buddhist ethics? How can we be part of a wholesome, supportive community
of creative practitioners?


"Together we are one" reads a calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh. This statement became the motto of the first retreat organised by the ‘Mindful Artists Network’ which took place at Findhorn / Scotland in June 2013. Fourteen dancers, musicians, actors, writers and visual artists from Germany, Great Britain and Canada came together at the Victorian retreat centre Newbold House in order to meditate, dance, celebrate and be creative. Under the spiritual guidance of Sr. Jewel (Dharma teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh) and Sr. Hai Nghiem, and with co-facilitation of the network founders Susanne Olbrich and Aleksandra Kumorek, this newly forming ‘tribe’ spent a June weekend enjoying the magical Scottish midnight sun (well, nearly)...   


In an opening ceremony, everyone placed something on the ‘altar of creativity’ – an object or image that represented  people’s connection to their creative source. It was an act of consciously joining the great stream of our ancestors, inspirations and influences. This marked the beginning of an intense weekend of shared joys and tears, dances and performances, deep reflection and heartfelt laughter.                                                



In addition to joint sitting and walking meditations, the focus was on creative practice. Sr. Jewel introduced the Interplay method and dance meditation, which helped us connect deeply with ourselves and each other. In the large walled garden of Newbold House mandalas were created from nature materials, followed by small impromptu group performances. In small groups we reflected on ethics and the five Mindfulness Trainings, as the Buddhist precepts are termed in the Plum Village tradition.                                                     


An informal tea ceremony provided the frame for participants to present their own creative work: music, dance, painting, sculpture, performance, movies, photography, poetry... Part of this was a most uncommon ‘zen’ tea master: a clown who works with terminally ill children in   hospitals and who made us laugh that night...                                            



At parting time on Sunday afternoon we had grown into a loving community which had brought Thich Nhat Hanh's statement to life: "Together we are one" indeed. We couldn’t resolve the world's problems during this weekend, and how to live our lives lovingly and mindfully will continue to be a challenge for each one of us: Not allowing our seeds of greed, stress and competition to be watered which are so dominant in our society, but staying true to our way of compassion and non-harming in everyday work. But we know that we no longer walk this path alone. (The retreat took place from the 28th to the 30th of June 2013, in Findhorn, Scotland.)                                 



Tea Ceremony: The Heart of Creativity - Extracts Jo Clifford.pdf

Tea Ceremony: Retreat Poem Miriam Eguchi.pdf

Dharma Talk Sister Jewel 29 June 2013 "Art is how we live".pdf