On the evening of December 31st 2021 I led my first official clay meditation workshop at Amara Valley, a nature and wellness retreat center in the heart of Catalunya.
The New Years retreat welcomed 30 or so guests in an intimate gathering combining yoga, nutrition, music, massage, drawing and yes–clay!
It was an amazing experience to lead my first guided meditation and all of the positive feedback has encouraged me to continue exploring this new facet in my work.
I’d love to tell you more about it. First, let’s take a look at how I got here.
From frenzied to harmonious
In the world of ceramics, there’s no way to know in which ways your curiosity and creative flow may go. There are endless paths to explore.
In recent years, I played with different clays, different approaches to making, such as wheel throwing, hand-building, slip-casting and sculpture as well as many decoration techniques. I’ve learned a lot about firing in electric kilns and I’ve started making my own glazes.
After this expansive exploration in my time working in two large community studios in Barcelona, I moved my workshop into my home when my daughter was born in 2020. I suddenly became very aware of how my environment affects which direction I take in my work.
Previously, I worked at almost a frantic pace with music going and enough energy to continue making all day and night. I had other artists working around me so I could constantly learn new techniques. I was a curious learner—wanting to try anything and everything that I could.
Suddenly, I started working alone. Initially just at night or for an hour during the day while the baby slept . I no longer had 8 to 12 hour stretches to work, nor did I have distractions, interruptions or exterior input to my work.
As my work flow slowed, I naturally started combining my spiritual side with my artistic side. I started closing my eyes while I worked and connecting my breathing to my working rhythms. And I stopped listening to music, books and podcasts all the time. I went back to ancient practices of the very first people on earth–I made clay pinch pots.
I started using my working hours to get centered, reconnect with what’s important and be more mindful. Once I started down this path, I decided I wanted to share it with others.
The clay meditation workshop
We start with a bit of breathing, centering and relaxation. Then we connect with our material– what does it feel like? What does it smell like? What does touching the clay feel like? What happens to our experience when we change clays? Do new memories and sensations come up?
We choose the type of clay we’d like to work with that day (I offered two different types of stoneware: one with grog and one without). While slowly rotating the ball of clay in our hands, I walk them through the initial steps of opening a pinch pot. Next, we have a quiet period while each person delves into their own creative practice, focusing on the tactile experience or trying to focus on nothing at all.
This is a slow, introspective process. If you close your eyes and connect your movements to your breathing, you can convert the making into a deep meditative exploration.
We finish the session with an eyes-open exploration of the piece we made and by sharing our thoughts, memories and experiences.
I found the workshop thoroughly enjoyable and I’d like to continue exploring this side of my creative career. Would you like to try? I’m considering recording a guided clay meditation on my YouTube channel for my fellow clay artists.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and input. Thanks for reading!