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 brief session of breathing, centering and relaxation.
Next, we establish a connection with the material, contemplating its origin as an integral part of Mother Earth. We recall that our ancestors have utilized this material and participated in this craft for countless generations.
Then, we embark on an exploration of our senses.
What does the clay feel like?
How does the clay smell?
What sensations arise from touching the clay?
What happens to our experience when we switch to a different clay variety?
Do new memories and sensations come up?
We select the type of clay to work with that day (I presented two options: stoneware with grog and smooth clay without grog). As we gently rotate the clay in our hands, I guide them through the initial steps of forming a pinch pot.
I emphasize that this might be the final creation of the year and is crafted purely for the joy of creating, devoid of any other purpose. Participants won’t take their creations home; detachment from their artistic output is an integral aspect of the process.
Following this, a serene period ensues during which each individual immerses themselves in their personal creative practice, focusing on the tactile encounter or attempting to clear their mind entirely.
A slow, introspective process
The meditation unfolds as a deliberate and reflective procedure. By closing your eyes and connecting your movements to your breathing, you can convert the making into a deep meditative exploration.
The session concludes with an open-eyed examination of the piece we’ve crafted, followed by a dialogue where we exchange our musings, recollections, and encounters.
Personally, I found the workshop immensely gratifying and I’m eager to further explore this facet of my creative vocation.
Are you intrigued to give it a try? I’m contemplating producing a guided clay meditation video for my YouTube channel, catering to my fellow clay artists.
As always, I’m keen to hear your insights and contributions. Thanks for reading.