Forms of presence...
Stephanie Jackson is a GP (General Practitioner medical doctor) and a MBSR Mindfulness instructor for other NHS practitioners. She is also an Ashtanga yoga instructor; an organiser of Surya, an annual yoga camp in Cornwall and a co-founder of Chyan Community Field where Surya is hosted.
Most importantly to me, she has been my yoga and mindfulness teacher for well over a decade, and one of my most influential role models in artful living. She is an example of a contemporary professional woman that is able to integrate a holistic approach to health and wellbeing; and willing to be a leader for others to learn from with inclusion, curiosity and openness. Her life choices of career, family and community reflect a cohesion and manifestation of an inner purpose and a capacity to manifest this. I feel very fortunate to have been able to live in relatively close proximity and to take advantage of the offers she has made to the community.
I am delighted that she has agreed to be a guest in my Show & Tell series on Sunday 21 March at 4pm GMT, to discuss her professional and personal relationship to ‘the body’; embodied practices such as yoga and mindfulness; and the significance of intention and creativity to her life. This event is free and open to all, so please join us. Book here.
Ashtanga is a form of yoga comprised of set sequences of physical positions (asanas) that are performed to the rhythm, and timing, of breathing. Each pose is held for a specific number of breaths and they are linked together with a transitional ‘vinyasa’ set of movements, so that the whole sequence is fluid… a moving meditation.
I like this form of yoga because it is very active, which suits my personal needs; and because it enables me to notice variations in my body and mind, in any given session, as I move through the same sequence every time. For example, a pose that might be easy to hold one day, may feel uncomfortable another, and this gives me useful information about my state of being.
When I did my first 8-week MBSR mindfulness training with Stephanie, many years after starting yoga with her, I realised how fundamental mindfulness is to her yoga instruction. She has always led body-scans as part of the classes, and emphasised developing the capacity to listed to, and respect, the body - over and above executing the form of the asanas. I am aware that not all yoga instructors take this approach, and I feel very grateful to have ended up in her classes for this reason.
The benefits of daily yoga for me are great: energising, blissful, practical and grounding. My 2-hour self-led practice is ambitious, but the practice is not just what occurs on the mat; it includes my whole relationship to showing up…or not… and is focused on self-care, forgiveness, loving-kindness and acceptance. Often the gap between intention and manifestation is greater than I want it to be, in yoga and in life. Focusing on the holistic aspects of the practice enables me to bring all the benefits of my practice into my daily life, regardless of how many asanas I do each day.
Over many years, Stephanie has cultivated a community of people around her who appreciate her yoga and mindfulness leadership, and have been inspired to commit to their own practices because of what she has shown us. She has provided opportunities to come together to practice together, and also to share our experiences of daily practice with one another. This communal emphasis enhances what is essentially a solitary experience, and deepens the significance of the engagement.
Surya is a family orientated yoga camp that takes place in rural Cornwall, UK. It offers a great opportunity each year to bring many yoga instructors and practitioners together to enjoy a week of camping, yoga and other creative activities. Over the last few years I have been able to offer workshops there and to develop creativity sessions specifically in relation to enhancing yoga practice.
This is now an important aspect of what Your CreativeCore sessions have become: especially the Core ABC ‘body’ sessions online that have been specifically informed by the Surya retreats.
I bring what I have learned from my yoga and mindfulness trainings into all the creativity sessions that I offer. Sometimes with explicit body awareness and movement exercises, and always with the emphasis on learning to listen and respect our own, individual, process – above and beyond an external form, or any imposed expectations. I invite you to sign up for one of my sessions and be part of the community that I am cultivating around intentional practice and wellbeing… inspired by leaders like Stephanie and influenced, among other things, by all that I learn from her.
Show & Tell series
Show & Tell series
Coming together to share, inspire and celebrate our creative core
A live, online monthly series of talks with guest speakers in conversation with Dr RyyA. Bread. Coming together to discuss artistic expression, embodied practices and wellbeing.
Based on the success of the My Daily Bread Show & Tell talks in 2020, featuring my own recent textile artwork, I thought it would be great to extend the format into a series that could focus on other wonderful people that I know; and allow for conversations with them about their creative processes and practices across a range of disciplines, and how these are integrated into daily living.
For me, the interdisciplinary aspect of the Show & Tell remit is really important because it enriches and expands our understanding of creativity through a diversity of perspectives and contexts. It also reflects the methodology that underpins my own approach to facilitating creativity: using simple writing, making and body awareness techniques in a dynamic interplay with one another.
The Show & Tell talk series is an opportunity to build community, introduce people to one another and expand all our networks. It provides a platform to showcase specific projects, as well as to have more general conversations on a range of meaningful and inspiring topics.
Sadly, the first talk in the series, with artist Lucy Willow, had to be postponed until later in the year, but it will be worth the wait. Lucy's long-term interest in themes connected to bereavement is reflected in her artwork, her academic research and in her recent creation of a 'death' shop in Penzance, Cornwall UK: Dust Ltd.
Thus the 'first' talk of the series now falls to the February guest speaker, a long time friend and fellow feminist, Delpha Hudson. Delpha and I share an interest in defining and understanding female Subjectivity and ways of 'writing the Self'. She too has an interdisciplinary method of creating. She is a very practised performance artist and painter, among other things. We will be focusing on the new publication of her small book set that documents her Theatre of the Self project. Please join us for the talk on Sunday 21 February at 4pm GMT/UK. It is by donation and all are welcome. Book your place here.
In March I am looking forward to being in conversation with Stephanie Jackson, MD - General Practitioner, Yoga and Mindfulness Instructor. We will be discussing her embodied practices and related themes such as one of my favourite, the continuum of 'gentleness' and 'discipline' in living our intentions. Book your place here for this talk on Sunday 21 March at 4pm GMT/UK.
All children are artists
I have a creative practice that for over four years has involved making a visual diary with textiles every day - in various increments of time. The data that informs this visual ‘diary’ is crossed referenced from my personal written journal that logs specific daily intentions and reflections and has been on-going for several decades.
This viewing of My Daily Bread primarily includes four completed annual artworks, and one in progress (2020). Each one of these pieces starts on 1 January and goes through 31 December of that calendar year. Each year of the project I have used a different textile method or combination of crafts; and the title incorporates that reference. The individual elements of each annual artwork I refer to as ‘time pieces’.
In addition to these main artworks I also have travel logs that chart specific periods of time while I have been on my annual pilgrimages back to North America (and recently Central America as well) and on residential training intensives in Europe and the UK. My trips are usually in the winter and span across two calendar years, and two annual artworks, so making a travel log is a way of isolating the specific travel period. These smaller pieces, that cover shorter durations, also enable me to test out the techniques I plan to use next before I get started and help me prepare for the year ahead in that way. They are made daily alongside the corresponding annual artworks.
The aim with all of these pieces, and my current approach to making more generally, is to sustain consistent daily engagement with my creative practice amidst the other demands and distractions of living…thus strengthening the ‘creative core’ of my Being (hence the name of my ‘private practice’).
My own creative core daily art practice is an attempt to cultivate well-being, playfulness and curiosity and to explore variation within repetition and structure….within my artwork as well as my life! This work is about intentions and my embodied, mindful attempts to follow through with them. This method of making offers me a tool for daily grounding and reflection; a means of motivation; an outlet for self-expression and a way of marking my daily achievements. It also provides an opportunity to generate dialogue with other people around artful living and other topics.
Sharing the processes and practices of