An Online Summer Awareness Retreat
6 Weeks from July 13 to August 23, 2020
Do you experience Nature as a primary place of connection to your Soul and Spirit?
Have these last few months of “pause” made you long to incorporate more mindful activities and ways of being into your daily life?
Are you seeking a set of creative and Nature-based practices that will ground and support you through challenging times?
As we slowly re-emerge and awaken to a new reality, many of us are discovering just how much there was to learn, or re-learn, about ourselves, after perhaps years of being in “busy” mode or a creative rut. The extended “pause” of the last three months allowed us to slow down, re-evaluate and think about how we might reassemble our lives, post pandemic. But now what? What comes next and how do we make sure the changes we crave “stick”?
In gearing up again, it is going to be more important than ever to stay centred, grounded and connected to the things we discovered in our downtime, things we now recognize as vital and life-affirming and that need to be a more permanent part of our life going forward. Invoking the healing and transformative power of Nature can help us to do that.
Finding Your Nature is an online program that will run six weeks beginning July 13 and ending August 23. Its “retreat” like approach will take you on a quest to connect and strengthen your relationship to Nature, allowing it to become your guide as you continue to uncover what is most essential to your own nature.
During the height of summer’s beauty, this experiential journey through the natural world (whether you live in the city, suburbs or countryside), will let you use your five physical senses and intuitive sixth sense to explore Nature in new and creative ways. These “animal” ways of experiencing Nature are combined with physical, contemplative and creative activities designed to heighten your awareness, cultivate mindfulness and provide new tools and methods for seeking guidance.
The practices you will learn are drawn from a variety of sources such as Celtic Druidism, Christian mysticism and Buddhism, as well as CJ Shelton’s many years working within the Shamanic tradition and expressive arts. The program will help you incorporate these practices into your daily life and choose what is essential to take forward with you. By its completion you will have reconnected to your “animal” instincts and embodied a new way of being in relation to the natural world, one that deeply honours Mother Earth as a place of nurturance, sanctuary, revelation and guidance.
Some of these practices include:
- Simple art activities (no artistic experience is required!). We will be using a journal or sketchbook to record your weekly discoveries as well as creating a mandala or visual “map” that will be a chronicle of your journey throughout the program.
- Thought-provoking readings and meditations.
- Writing prompts to promote self-reflection, journaling and poetry or prose writing
- Mindful walking and stillness as physical practices
- Activities to promote using all six senses and reconnecting to your “animal” wisdom.
- An online community forum for sharing thoughts, discoveries and creative exercises with your fellow journeyers.
Live Zoom sessions will offer the opportunity to connect live with others in the program, ask questions, get feedback and be inspired by how others are engaging with the activities. If you are unable to attend live, these sessions will be recorded and available to listen to at your leisure.
The practices and ways of engaging with Nature in this program are what CJ Shelton does herself, each and every day. If you already enjoy her newsletter Under the Dancing Moon and/or receive her weekly Soul Snippets, you will LOVE this program.
The description below of the weekly themes will give you a sense of what the program entails.
Week 1: Seeing Nature With New Eyes
“Seeing with new eyes” is not only a fundamental skill for artists but also the key to greater awareness for anyone who simply seeks to live a more creative life. Visually exploring the outer landscape with a heightened awareness also has a way of revealing unknown aspects of our inner landscape. By exploring the “ordinary” in new and different ways we learn to see more accurately which, in turn, helps us to better discern our own needs and unique perspective on things.
Week 2: Listen … Do You Hear What I Hear?
Each of Nature’s elements is speaking to us all the time. Learning to hear the whispers and shouts Nature is continually offering us is to regain an essential wisdom we have forgotten in our noisy frantic lives. When we listen mindfully to Nature, rather than drowning its voice out with the constant need for music, human conversation and other distractions, we start engaging with its plants, creatures and other elements on a whole new level and can hear how they respond with their own form of communication.
Week 3: A Rose by Any Other Name
Trees, plants, flowers, birds, insects and animals do not try to be other than what they were created to be. Their unique fragrance signatures attract and repel, as needed. In that regard, they have much to teach us about how to embrace our own “who-I-am-ness” and authenticity – of how to attract that which we want in our lives and repel what no longer serves us.
Week 4: The Sweetness of Life – A Taste of Things to Come
As flowers give way to fruit in the planting cycle, Nature offers us a bounty of tastes and flavours. All interactions with Nature can be partaken of as a sacrament, a holy act. In doing so, Nature will come to meet us, extending herself in a sacramental manner as well. Learning to consume Nature more mindfully helps us to gratefully partake of her beauty and abundance and shows us how to consciously choose “nourishment” that is most beneficial to our body and spirit.
Week 5: Touched With Love
Taking a tactile approach to Nature allows us to experience the world in a more sensual way that cannot be achieved through our eyes and ears alone. Spirit, or life force, is the original artist and sculptor, continually at work in Nature – making its marks, creating patterns, textures and other tactile qualities – all of which are a reflection of the larger cycle of creation and death that is constantly at work. Understanding Nature’s cycles is essential to helping us recognize what we need to keep and what to let go.
Week 6: Honing Our Sixth Sense
When viewed through the most subtle yet most expansive of our senses, our sixth sense, we discover that the more we cultivate a relationship with the natural world, the more we discover the presence of Spirit or something magical and synchronistic at work in everything around us.
Nature is like a sacred ancient text that can be read and understood once we have learned to really see, hear, smell, taste and touch her gifts. Earth and her creatures and plants show us how to really “be” … but only if we pay attention long enough to “divine” their wisdom, their rhythms and their nuances. By doing so, we too are able to embrace our own unique place in Nature’s Great Wheel of Life, more fully and deeply.
How the Program Works
Six days each week you receive an email with a link to the day’s content. The seventh day (Sundays) are a time for rest and integration.
The course materials will be presented in a variety of formats including written PDF’s, video or audio which you can read, view and listen to at any time. No technical expertise is required as the formats will be easy to download or view/listen on your laptop or other device. You will also have the opportunity to share your thoughts and activities with others in a private online community forum on the course’s own dedicated learning platform (not on social media!)
- Daily email prompts to guide your journey
- Ongoing access to the materials on a private and easy-to-navigate platform
- Audio and Video recordings and/or Downloadable PDF files for each week’s content, practices, reflections and art activities.
- A vibrant community forum on the course’s own dedicated learning platform for sharing with others and getting ongoing feedback and support
- Live Zoom sessions where CJ will introduce the theme and activities for the week and provide the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback and support.
Program Fee $175 + HST
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!
If you have questions about whether this program is right for you or would like to be added to the wait list and be notified when registration officially opens, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the program fee you will need a journal or sketchbook and some simple art supplies such as card stock, construction paper or Bristol board, pencils, fine point markers, pencil crayons or watercolour paints and brushes. These items are in addition to the program fee and can be purchased at your local art supply or dollar store.
Your Guide for the Journey
CJ Shelton is the owner of Dancing Moon Designs, a bricks & mortar studio and gallery as well as a virtual space for exploring art, nature and spirituality through creative, mindful and earth-based practices. An artist and illustrator with over 35 years of professional experience, CJ has also been an arts educator, workshop facilitator, spiritual counsellor and shamanic practitioner for the last 10 years.
CJ’s passion and purpose is to inspire and guide fellow seekers on their creative and spiritual journeys through forming “circles” of community for artistic expression and explorations of the soul and spirit. By teaching mindfulness through creativity CJ opens other’s eyes to the meaning, magic and mystery of Nature’s Great Wheel of Life. To learn more about CJ click here.
Dancing Moon Designs is dedicated to creating an environment that is inclusive of all, values all, and recognizes the rights of all. We are all equal.