Thursday, December 22, 2011

iNSight - Exploring the Creative Self

The visual glimpses...

Exploring the Creative Self
Report and Responses
26th Nov – 1st Dec 2011

About twenty young people in their twenties (studying Photography and Film Production at SACAC, New Delhi) came to Pondicherry to go on a five day journey of creative discovery.

A day wise account…
Day 0 - Despite the long train journey and little sleep, the excitement and enthusiasm was palpable in the group.  All minds were open and ready to receive the words of welcome and wisdom that the Sri Aurobindo Society Chairman, (Mr. Pradeep Narang) had to share.  After a brief overview of what was to come,  they were given work before they dozed off  -  a ‘stream of consciousness’ experiment involving twenty minutes of non-stop writing without stopping and without a topic. The idea was to observe and reflect later what fatigue does to our expression.  

Day 1 - The first day commenced with ten minutes of silent focus with meditative music, to gather oneself and let go of distractions. This was followed by Sharing about the writing exercise given the night before. Everyone brought out their experiences, finding it easy and tough, also for some having the mind go blank altogether.
Move to the section on ‘Object Observation’  where the group worked with the various intricate objects they had brought, to see, and feel its little details, to get to a point where they would see it and see the story behind it. Interesting stories came out, some surprisingly similar to the real stories as later revealed.  Then came blindfolded freestyle dancing on music, of letting go and flowing with the music, of freezing and becoming more aware of oneself.  This lead to the craziness of dancing without music which attempted to find one’s own inner music and rhythm.  
Topics were given in four groups, and they had to come up with a ‘fairy tale’ on it, which was to be presented in a creative manner interesting enough for a 5 year old. Post lunch was performance time. Soon topics such as “why is sea water salty?’ or ‘why does the moon wax and wane?’ changed into interesting stories. Acting, humor, singing were all on display!
All this excitement only led to the time to lie down and relax, to reach to a restfulness inside and bring it out to one’s conscious state. It is in this state of utter relaxation that they wrote a quick write up of a single word ‘grass’ for ten straight minutes. Evaluating this and the pervious writings helped connect the exercises and made one aware of how one thinks. The last session was ‘Shoo Fly’, where everyone had to bring to fore one of their problems while the others gave suggestions or commented on it. What came out was that every process is not an individual one but a community process, also bringing the group closer to each other, but more honestly so.

 Day 2- Another day, another beginning with the ten minute silence and a review discussion.  What emerged was ways to tackle these points so as to get the best out of it. The first exercise of the day, turning scrap into 3D sculptures on one of the ‘navrasas’ created a buzz in the room, as newspapers and scrap papers slowly turned to symbols which expressed the ‘rasa’ and some interesting interpretations, ideas and outlooks came up. This led to a spirited discussion on how symbolism can be used to communicate and its power.
Post lunch today was not another session in a room, but an opportunity to go out in the city and while enjoying Pondicherry, taking time aside for a very crucial Person-Observation exercise. Each person was to observe any random person in the street for half an hour without disturbing them or making them aware of it and then write a detailed factual description and its interpretation. So everyone trotted off to find their subjects while trying to be discreet, almost like a spy thriller movie!

Day 3 - The morning meditation has become a pleasant routine, followed by sharing with everyone about the previous night’s writings. Today’s sharing had different responses, as this time writings had been done to one’s favourite songs. From getting lost in the song and being unable to write to suddenly having a rush of emotions to pen down, the responses varied.
The day’s exercises presented the power of music and images together and the profound effect they create together by presenting a painting and a photograph juxtaposed with different pieces of music, how the effect of the images changes when the song changes. Power of observation was further stressed when the group was divided into couples, each having to look into the other’s eyes as music played on, and then share the insights they observed into the other person.  Power of this was evident in the fact that, layers and sides which mostly skip soon started getting revealed.  Soon after came some very interesting short stop motion animations, examples of how things change if you can look a certain way. The grater turned into an insect, a USB cable became a pig’s tail and so on. It became abundantly clear that the meaning you give to reality is in fact your own meaning.
It was time to go from sight to sound. The group was initated into this as they sang out their names the way they felt it right. The next step was reaching out to the universe of vibrations inside us all. This was followed by using sounds within to create our very own big bang in the Beach House in Pondicherry! Seemingly crazy and impossible, it was soon seen taking shape and one really experienced their own big bang. Post lunch came the ‘fun’ with the hip-hop circle. From raping out nursery rhymes to articles, nothing was spared, and some hidden performers in the group came out who infused more energy. Hip-hop changed to blues circle, but the energy refused to die out, as everyone sang out their own blues. But this wasn’t the end, there was a whole song to be written by the group line by line.
The final session of the day came with ‘aaj ki tazza khabar’(today’s news) where everyone had to create their piece of crazy news from the pointers given. This subtlety traversed from learning  at the workshop to insight into themselves. This collective sharing meant that it was enriched with observations from everyone else.

Day 4 - In the age of forever being connected, here was a time to disconnect for all, and to connect within, as today was the day of complete silence, as everyone headed to the experimental farm ‘Maitri Kunj’ on their bikes under the clouded sky. For one, to think of absence of talking was comprehendible but absence of any communication at all, took a while to sink. With cell phones out of the way, just paper, a pen, camera and oneself, everyone set out to spend the day at the beautiful premises of ‘Maitri Kunj’.  Spread over many acres, ‘Maitri Kunj’ is a unique place, from its innovative agriculture techniques to experiments in methodology and so on. Post a silent juice break, everyone was guided into a silent, mindful walk around the premises to understand this place. By the time the group gathered again for lunch, it was clear how silence and solitude had effect them all. Some couldn’t resist the urge to talk anymore, and were bursting at their seams. But a quick and much quieter lunch later everyone dispersed out to explore the space themselves.
The few hours that made up the day, seemed like days, yet in a strange way it did feel like it went by faster than a normal day. Soon it was time to get back to ‘sharing.’  This time the discussion moved in and out of many zones, the observational primarily, and how one can take these observations forward here on. Same space, same time, same rules of silence, yet the silence observed by each turned out to be much different and this came out during the sharing session. The time at ‘Maitri Kunj’ ended with a few minutes of concentration to the playing of live flute.

Day 5 - The last day, a tired body but a fresh mind, set out with a sense of accomplishment. Beginning with the ten minutes of concentration and followed by the morning sharing. This was the day of culmination, bringing all that was done in the last few days together and putting it into perspective. The group was then divided into couples and each couple then had to develop a story around the people and the objects they had individually observed in the earlier exercises. So stories were developed and some crazy combination of characters and objects created some very interesting stories.
The creativity moved from stories to colour. The group was reshuffled and divided into couples again. And everyone went wild painting their partners. From the ‘joker face’ to the converse shoe, a tattoo design to a glove. Some tea and biscuits were the perfect time to sit back, as everyone, the students, teachers, facilitators and coordinators unwound a little from the hectic days as the sun was setting in the waters ahead. The most fitting gift at this point came for everyone as a collage of our times at the workshop.
Soon it was time for the last ‘sharing’ session, this session a lot more than the regular sharing, as all one had been through and learnt came pouring out. It became such an emotional moment, surprising how attached one can get in such a short time. Warm hugs and smiles and it was time to move on, but not before meeting Vijay Bhai.  Pearls of Wisdom may be a cliché, but to find a more suitable word for the occasion is tough. With these last inspirational words from him, the caravan moved…

“This workshop has been a great experience for me.  It has helped me know myself better and also to some extent it has killed my inhibitions and fear, like public speaking, expressing your view, feeling confident about yourself, learning from mistakes, respecting other’s viewpoint etc… This kind of education must be started from primary school, as I feel this is real education.  Also, people from every field must attend it do discover themselves and broaden their horizons.”
– Deepakshi Chowdhary

“When we came here the first day, I could feel the warmth, but being the person I am, I waited for the real test.  It was the second half of the first day which got me going and the 20 minute writing exercise that tickled me to fun.  From then on I knew it was fun ride!  I enjoyed the experience of coming to an unknown place to gain knowledge about myself… There are some things I take from here that I take back to put into practice in my life (mainly writing and observation and silence).”  
– Vishal Khanna

“Overall, it was fantabulous.  I had my high points and low points.  But I learnt tremendously about myself… I think I have grown a lot from this workshop, understood myself and other too. The faculty is amazing, strict and friendly at the same time. Don’t feel like leaving… I have learnt I get affected a lot by what others say and think, but I think the way I used to react has changed completely.  Thank you for an enriching experience.”   
- Ambuja Sabharwal 

“The most positive aspect for me was the 20 minute writing along with the Matri Kunj session… it is the sound of silence which cleared the notes in my head. The best thing to pick up for me was the perspective which others reflect, besides the acknowledgement of my own perspective.  The way of representing things from one person to another, changes like the colour of an object in different lights.”
– Tarun Modi

“The Matri Kunj trip was session that has affected me a lot, it has brought about the understanding to see how things are, to feel them and to sense them with our senses.”  
 – Pintu Lyngdoh

“I’ve gained many things – now I can write more than an hour, I learnt the power of meditation, I take back positive vibes, positive things from this place… The Rock songs, Blues that Mr. Andreas introduced, Harvinder ma’am’s daily meditation and discussion with everyone - these things opened me a lot and influenced my mind. I feel peace.” 
 - Devanshu Sharma

“Writing, music, walking into the jungle, photos – enjoyed it all and learned a lot of things. I really liked the ‘shoo fly’ session and became more confident… met some beautiful people over here.”
 - Kriti Chowdhary

“I was really amazed to discover how much spirituality and creativity are connected and why we needed this workshop.  I am impressed by the flexibility, how unexpectedly things roll out and make so much sense. Every session was so good and applicable for me.  Thank you all for your time. I hope I don’t disappoint you in my work after so much from you all.” 
 - T. Titus P

“Aaahhh! this workshop has really been a wonderful experience, when I entered here, I thought it’s going to be great in here… after five days of attending this workshop I think I have improved a lot, may be more than I expected… all the experiences I had on the last day affected me in a positive manner, because now I really know what I am going to be doing in the coming future.”
 – Shikha Mahipal

“The musical session, the 3D art making session and the visit to Matrikunj affected me the most. It brought in me some change which I am still trying to figure out… I would like to try out the Big Bang in Andreas’ style, it brought in me an energy which I never experience before. Also now, I’ll switch back to my early morning solitary walks.”
 - Harshita Rathore

“Image understanding helped me the most. How background score can change the meaning an image can deliver, surprised me… Singing was the most difficult exercise for me, as I am a horrible singer and I refuse to sing in public.” 
 - Neil Lalwani

“The first was quite difficult, starting with meditation and dancing with eyes closed, but I learnt that a fear was going out and I was becoming confident. Also, the 3D model we prepared - through that it was easy to learn different aspects of life. Discussing the fear inside you in ‘shoo fly’ and getting suggestions was helpful. Thanks to Laura and Andrea for the musical session, that was the best thing. Visit to Matrikunj was special, saw a different world, where animals, plants, trees, insects can live together and how much peace it can give you… Overall peaceful experience where we learnt so many things.”
 - Kulpreet Kaur

“The write up exercise affected e the most.  It allows you to gent an insight into yourself.  On the third day of the workshop, I felt more free and liberated after writing all my bad experiences on  paper. Now, I want to make this my habit… I have picked up many ideas and tips. I hope that it will reflect in my work and life. Explanation of symbolism and liberation was awesome.”
– Yogesh Arora

“According to me it seemed like a genuine effort from your end to give us an insight about our deeper self. You tried to show us the ways through which we could understand ourselves and also to an extent grow for that matter. I could sense a beautiful intention of it all, both at micro as well as at a larger level…. I am sure you were able to plant the seed real deep.  Thank you for your time and a lovely effort. You are all beautiful people.”
 – Vaibhav Gupta

“In the beginning, I was not excited, because I was not feeling comfortable walking out of my comfort zone… But by coming to the workshop, I learnt things I could otherwise never learn. For example, I learned to write freely, I overcame my fear of snakes, I starting singing and for the very first time I started being creative. I have never painted anyone, never made a heart out of rubbish and very seriously I have never written a story on an object before. The best part was I learned to be away from my mobile phone!”
– Chandan Khanna

“The silence-session in the farm taught me how to be alone without communication… After getting back I would like to practice twenty minute writing activity and writing/interpretation of the object. More so, I would like to continue observing and writing about people for a while.”
 -  E. Lingeshwaran

“When I first entered through the gate of the beach office in the evening I felt very quiet and fresh…  When I started writing for the 20 minutes exercise, I wrote so much! What I never had expressed, I expressed on the white sheet of paper.”
– Bikash

“The workshop as a whole was fantastic, come what may, the memories shall not be forgotten. I’ll take care to keep these experiences alive. Enjoyed it, learnt from it, and got closer to my batch mates.”

 - Siddharth Sawhey

The Invitation Brochure


  1. Anonymous25.12.11

    It is indeed a verygood project. I could not read some of the words; probably it is not desplayed properly.So I could not givemy comment.

  2. Anonymous25.12.11