Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Education and Research (SAFIER), the educational wing of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, conducted a workshop 'Heartbeat of Creativity' on 26th, 27th and 28th December 2020, facilitated by Harvinder Kaur, Director of Auro Mirra International School. In the serene environs of SHARANAM - our community centre, a portal opened to a world of creativity in the hearts and minds of the participants. There were 25 of them that came from Lucknow, Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, Erode, Bangalore, Auroville and Pondicherry, ready to plunge into their own depths to find the secret chest that hides the gems of creativity.
The workshop began with a discussion on ‘What is Creativity?’ to create a path that will lead to an experiential understanding of the creative space. The opening activity that ensued from the discussion of what are metaphors and how they play upon our minds, was called EXPLORING THE METAPHORS OF OUR LIVES. The participants were asked to bring an object that seemed ordinary but was important or special to them because of the memory or personal meaning attached to it. They were divided into pairs where they had to guess about the other’s object and the possible story behind it, and then share the real one.
The post lunch session involved an experiment with sounds/music, movement/dance followed by writing or drawing/colouring. This involved several sound stimuli from various musical instruments, that were to lead to a corresponding movement or dance. Different kinds of sounds were used – flute, tambourine, shakers, drums etc. A recorded piece of music was also played. The participants then wrote/drew/coloured/painted and shared. Many people shared in their responses that they went back to their childhood or observed how certain sounds gave rise to certain emotions, for instance the flute sounds made many people think of dawn.
The evening session was an intense session on flames and fire and one’s inner world, facilitated by Shivakumar. The session was about concentrating on the flame and trying to connect with it. It was a matter of time that the flame started responding, it stopped flickering! One could touch the fire gently and not burn one's fingers. What got burnt in the process was the fear of the fire that lay dormant in all the participants. The participants were engaged and were not disturbed by the usual flurry of thoughts. Their minds and emotions gained an inner stillness and their souls were ready to come out alive! After Dinner everyone was advised to do a spontaneous writing of 20 minutes and then go to bed.
The second day began with an interesting session on the power, essence, shape, smell, form of spices ordinarily seen in the common Indian kitchen. This was followed by the participants being transported to MATRI-KUNJ, a natural farm, on a tractor! All participants were singing old Hindi songs till they reached the destination. One could see birds, chickens, cows and trees and plants with spices hanging on them. Everyone was curious!
At Matrikunj, Sri Aurobindo Society's natural organic farm, the participants were divided into groups and provided raw ingredients like rice, dal and spices. They were asked to prepare KHICHRI in a farm environment using wood fire, open vessels and very ordinary means. They were told that everyone will have to eat what they cook! It was a tedious task for all the participants but at the same time it felt very real. No one knew that the taste of simple khichdi would bring so much joy. The cooking was followed by writing their experience, before the lunch break.
The post lunch session was about CREATING A STORY in small groups. The groups had to pick randomly from a pool of chits from the categories – time, place, person, spice, theme. They were asked to create stories by combining these elements and would be presenting them the following day.
The post tea session was time for a beautiful and unique MEHFIL with candle lights and flowers, where each participant brought something unique – a song, poem, incident, story to share with the group, and make the evening memorable.
The entire morning was a long session on a deep, sensitization to the element of water in and around us; how it is linked to our creative depths; how to open to its power; how to learn from it. The session involved activities and processes of sensitization and accessing the deeper crevices of the mind to come to a deeper awareness. The participants shared their experience with the group and wrote for 20 minutes what poured out of their hearts.
Post lunch, it was time to present the stories of their groups. The groups came up with extremely creative and humorous stories leading to the climax of the workshop.
The last session was about sharing their learning/experience of the workshop, as well as about themselves.
The workshop concluded with tea and expressions of gratefulness by participants for the experience. The meals provided throughout the workshop were home-cooked meals prepared by the SAMSIDDHI team (a unit of AuroService Trust) with love and care and the participants felt well looked after, comfortable and safe amidst the fears of the Pandemic. With a happy note, all the 25 participants left the footprints of their memories at Sharanam and headed towards the beginning of a new journey called A CREATIVE LIFE.
What the participants felt, in their own words …
"The one thing I loved most is it (the creativity workshop) was arranged not to train you by your mind and intellect only. All the factors are taken into consideration, even the most basic things such as preparation of food were also given importance, not just filling the information in your mind but trying to make you free from your old concepts, habits etc."
- (Sanjeevani J. Apte, Member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)
‘The Heartbeat of Creativity' far surpassed my expectations; the dedication of the team was a lesson in itself as to what concentrated efforts can achieve. The facilities, room, meals were beyond expectations; the space at Sharanam lovely and calming."
(Sumita Sen, Coordinator at Indian Public school, Erode)
"I enjoyed every discussion, session, and interaction that this workshop made possible. The funniest three days I've ever had with strangers..."
(Nitya, poet from Puducherry)
"Right from the moment I entered Sharanam for the workshop, every second spent at Sharanam was an overwhelming experience. Every moment is cherished. An experience which is once in a lifetime."
(Uma Mohan, Principal at Auro Mirra International school, Bangalore)
"To me, the Heartbeat of Creativity workshop came as a true blessing. It brought out the best in me. It moistened/lubricated all the web of strands of my being. I felt rejuvenated and gained many new perspectives of existence around me."
(Urmila Ellappan, Educator at SAICE, Puducherry)
"Everything, all the sessions brought a lot of positivity. There was no pressure of any kind put upon us. The organisation of sessions was excellent. It was done in such a way that we all slowly, gradually got closer to each other. ... At all points, we were given an opportunity to express ourselves. That was great! I learnt that things can be done spontaneously and need not always be calculated and structured."
(Rucha Ramteke, Copy Editor from Puducherry)
"Amazing, extraordinary, phenomenal – the content, the facilitators, the management, the place, the group, the energy, the food, the cleanliness. Everything was brilliant."
(Beena Parekh, Head of a Preprimary school at Mumbai)