Every year I co-facilitate a Spiritual Creative Writing Retreat in Thailand with Tania Ho, Founder of Museflower Retreat & Spa. We call it the Soul Bliss Writing Retreat. Our aim is for guests to feel “blissed out” from the inside out and leave replenished and nurtured by connecting with their creativity, with nature and with themselves.
October 2018 – Tania and I were looking forward to welcoming Soul Bliss Retreat Writing guests. As one of our guests said on the feedback form, the Soul Bliss Writing Retreat is ‘unique.’ Usually I reflect on the retreat experience from my own perspective. This year I’d like to share with you one of our guest’s experiences published in AsiaSpa magazine. Stephanie is an editor for AsiaSpa and joined as a guest. Here’s what she had to say about the Soul Bliss Retreat:
Soul Bliss Retreat at Museflower Retreat & Spa sharpens intuition and the inner voice through creative writing
Writing professionally makes it easy to forget what it means to do so for fun. One of the first things you’ll do at the Soul Bliss Retreat at Museflower Retreat & Spa is set an intention for your stay – mine was to rediscover the creative side of writing, a passion watered down by its association with work. Whether here to awaken your inner storyteller or escape hectic jobs in a city, the peaceful hills of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand are the perfect place to reset. Founded by Tania Ho, and former spa management executive with Six Senses Resorts & Spas, her goal was to create a space where people can reconnect with energy, creativity and wellbeing.
The second Soul Bliss Retreat: Let your Soul Speak with Soul Writing and Meditation is co-facilitated by Tania who leads the spiritual side of the programme. Sarah Walton, creative soul writing facilitator, blends meditation and free-writing techniques to clear ‘blocks’ and encourage guests to find a voice for the inner story their soul desires to share.
AWAKENED BY PLAY
Most days begin with a session with Tania to help us reconnect with the subconscious. To awaken our intuition, she suggests immersing ourselves in nature, so far as to lie on the grass, ask the soil a question and listen for Mother Earth’s response. She has us chanting, colouring mandalas and guiding us through a Shamanic Journey Meditation with drumming – things that first seem like play, but we discover the powerful freeing affect they have on busy minds consumed by chatter. Music is an effective meditation tool, enhancing visualisation techniques making characters come to life in the imagination, at times shuffling along to the beat of the drums.
One of the highlights was the Inner Dance by Pi Villaraza, an ancient Filipino spiritual healing modality which heightens awareness and restores balance through melody. Surprisingly an emotional rollercoaster, the
journey through various tracks magnifies feelings of pain and anxiety before taking new form as joy and freedom.
The sessions with Sarah often began with meditation to connect with our ‘soul voice’ as we enliven the senses through description. We introduce the group to our personal ‘writing guides’, the mentors we create to coach us through storytelling. Group sharing and receiving immediate feedback from Sarah is useful and rewarding. Sarah believes anyone with a mother tongue can write, and says that character and location are all you need to start a novel.
In one exercise, we write to manifest, visualise our book cover and its launch, revving up our excitement at the prospect. She asks us to create a literal and figurative writing sanctuary, to best support a process that can bring a host of emotions – namely fear – to the surface. On this topic, the activity I was most apprehensive about was sitting around a fire to share the beliefs we hold about ourselves that hold us back, and the stories attached to them. Divulging insecurities to strangers was both terrifying and liberating, one of the most memorable parts of the retreat. We wrote them on a piece of paper which we threw into the fire, taking pleasure watching them go up in flames into the night sky. Lying on the grass looking up at the stars, we tell a new story to move us forward, a moment still etched in mind.
While the course takes up roughly five hours each day, it still leaves time to enjoy the serenity of the resort. Mornings often start with the 7am yoga class and lazing by the lake, while afternoons were spent prone in a treatment room. A Body Alignment massage is included on this package and was my favourite of the many I tried. The herbal steam and mineral pool are lovely after a treatment, complete with a tea and macadamias in the relaxation area. Everyone comes together for meals which are a fantastic vegetarian Thai spread, often with a soup, curry, rice or noodles, stir-fried greens, protein in the form of egg or tofu, fruit and sometimes local desserts. Everything is gluten free and for the most part dairy free with the exception of kefir at breakfast. A usually solo traveller, group interaction was a highlight. The blend of meditation and writing works well easing us into creative
mode before applying practical techniques, in a safe space where we felt confident sharing our innermost selves on the page. The experience comes full circle with a closing ceremony in which we revisit our original intentions while making new ones. We sound a gong, taking a second to take in the positive vibration around our new
outlook on writing and life. I found a better sense of self, optimism on writing as play – and best of all – people with whom to share it with. http://www.asiaspa.com
Writer Stephanie Shui, February 19 / AsiaSpa
Stephanie has summed up the atmosphere and benefits of the Soul Bliss retreat perfectly. She was one of two professional writers who joined the Soul Bliss Retreat in October 2018 with the intention of ‘enjoying’ feeling free to be creative and have fun writing without the pressure of deadlines or a ‘house style’ to adhere to, but instead to rediscover their own voice and put that on the page. It was a pleasure to work with her and hear Stephanie’s unique creative voice. It’s always a joy to facilitate the freeing up of Soul Writer’s imaginations and I’m continually impressed and astounded by the infinite variety of stories, poems and perspectives that each person’s personal life journey conjures up from the depths of their souls.
Thank you Stephanie, a joy to create with you!
Categories: Creative Writing