2018 Retreat Recap

Eclipse Enso August 2017 Peter Fraterdeus
Review of the October 2018 Event

Mindful Play and Tools for Resilience

A Three-day Retreat to Rejuvenate, Connect, Create

Pamela Paulsrud – from the series Hold My Hand

Artboard 1-80.jpg

This event was a great success! Thanks to our Mindful Players! Please sign-up on our mailing list or follow @amindfulmark or our Facebook Page to keep in touch!

Follow @AMindfulMark  on twitter

Like Make a Mindful Mark on Facebook

We are planning events for 2019 and 2020 now. Book soon!  Programs available for your retreat, corporate team, or group.

Mindful Play and Tools for Resilience Review

“My expectations were high, and the experience surpassed them then took two laps around the moon and back again!”*

It’s a wonderful thing after a visit with dear friends to feel so comfortable and appreciated that nobody wants to leave. That was the atmosphere Monday the 8th of October, wrapping up the first “Make a Mindful Mark” retreat! We found ourselves in a place of great joy, together with kindred spirits.

This retreat, almost two years in planning, offered practices arising from our innate desire to "make a mark" which we can use every day to help maintain a balanced heart and mind, to recall the true heart's desire, and to find joyful ways to walk in the world, remembering the gifts we have to offer. 

Mindful Play and Tools for Resilience was held at the Sinsinawa Mound Retreat Center, which is connected with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters motherhouse near Galena, Illinois. The program was developed by Peter Fraterdeus, with Kate Miller and Pam Paulsrud.

A setting of contemplation and beauty, surrounded by over a hundred acres of woods, overlooking vistas of the early October landscapes, Sinsinawa was a perfect spot for our small group. There were a number of Chicagoans, as well as new friends from Minneapolis, Omaha, and Iowa City. There is an Album of participants' contributed photos here for viewing 



“Learned so much from this retreat, not so much able to quantify it in language—but in growth that is immeasuarable somehow” *

Pam Paulsrud, who is widely known for her calligraphy and creative works on paper, including the wonderful “Treewhispers”, brought her wonderful spirit, her flutes and music. Pam shared her practice of playful creative unfolding, using both sides of the brain, right and left hands, unusual tools used in unusual ways, and the “Morning Pages” or “brain drain” exercise from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”. 

We divided a big sheet of kraft paper into a giant tic-tac-toe of nine squares, and started writing with any tool at hand, whatever came into our heads, continuous lines, without lifting the pencil, and without concern for legibility. Then after a few minutes, we’d grab the next tool, turn the page 90 degrees and continue. Then, start with the non-dominant hand... then, with both hands, one asking, the other answering, from the deep subconscious! And once we’d written our own sheets, we turned to our neighbors, and began writing as a pair, two people on each sheet...

The first evening, Pam also set up a suminagashi station, where we were able to take some of our work sheets from earlier on Saturday and experiment with this wonderful Japanese marbling tradition.

Kate was our mindful movement and yoga coach, offering a sequence of yoga asanas in the early morning, stretch breaks through the day, as well as the deep relaxation of Yoga Nidrameditation. We intend these retreats to be fulfilling to the whole person, engaging both spirit and body. Kate’s calm and forthright presence and occasional healing hands on a stiff neck helped us focus and relax, providing a break from the concentration of mindful mark making! “Remember to breathe”!

Peter began the retreat on Friday evening sharing his own daily practice of water calligraphy, familiar throughout the Far East. Writing with a Chinese brush and clear water, we used a ‘water practice sheet’ which has a light grey surface until it is wet, when it immediately turns deep black. 

He keeps a sheet on his study desk, and will often take five minute breaks throughout the day to be present— nothing but the brush and intention. There is no need for anxiety or seeking perfection, since the mark simply evaporates in a few minutes! We also used a chisel-edged brush to study the Trajan Roman capitals in the same way, as a meditation, not as a competition. Of course, there is opportunity for close study of the negative space, the structure and the energy of the forms, but for us these are more the icing, rather than the cake!

He offered other of his regular practices as well, a meditation with kneaded eraser, sharpening the pencil, 'blind contour' drawing, seeing negative spaces, drawing an unseen object by touch alone...then we moved all the tables, and worked on the floor, using Peter’s giant East Asian brushes to make the “Enso” or Zen Circle. 

A twenty minute silent Zen-style 'sit' began the day Saturday and Sunday early morning, and Peter offered a brief reading from Rumi or Dogen followed by a short discussion. The event materials and workbook are based on his "Drawing on Emptiness" curriculum.

Sunday afternoon we drew a human-scaled construction of the vesica piscisof Sacred Geometry, using chalk and lengths of paracord on the rain-blackened driveway outside the center! “Keep it taut!” See the photos!

“Each facilitator brought a distinct and essential energy to the weekend. Each is perfectly suited to this work”*

We were graced with live music throughout, including lovely Irish fiddle playing from our Iowa CIty fiddler, Pam’s indigeous American flutes, and Peter’s singing bowls!  

On Sunday evening, we had an hour of magical song and acoustic guitar from two very talented local performers.

Through Sunday evening and Monday morning, we continued our mindful play and mark making, and bound together small books of our worksheets from the weekend, using our kraft paper writing as a folded cover. 

Along with the Google photo album (see link above) there's a new public Facebook group “Mindful Play and Tools for Resilience" for sharing further playful experiments and discussions about our ownpractices! 

New and renewed friendships and enthusiasm abounded as we parted, with many thanks to the gentle Sisters at Sinsinawa.

*participant comments from the anonymous after-survey

Peter and Kate are co-directors of “Make a Mindful Mark™️”, offering workshops, seminars and retreats. 2019 & 2020 events are being planned now!

Contact info@emptiness.design or http://MakeaMindfulmark.com

Pam teaches and exhibits widely http://pamelapaulsrud.com

Follow @AMindfulMark  on twitter

Like Make a Mindful Mark on Facebook

Peter Fraterdeus Shodo Flag—Sumi and brush on Arches Heavy