Here are some insights into our motivation for this get-together, into our inspirations and some philosophical thoughts on the matter. Enjoy. And come!
„To accept sensuousness is to lend one’s body to the world and accept its complexities, tastes, structures, and smells … sensuous scholarship is ultimately a mixing of head and heart. It is an opening of one’s being to the world – a welcoming.„
— Paul Stoller: Sensuous Scholarship
We went through something like hibernation. Carefully we now blink our eyelids, stretch our limbs, crawl out of our nests and dare to slowly open ourselves up to a new world. This is exciting. And overwhelming. And a fascinating chance to reinvent.
Where do we begin? Why not at the beginning: it all started with your breath and with your senses. Feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting.
Fundamental as they are they tend to be taken for granted. But once we give full attention to them they generate powerful visceral pleasures and carefully ground us as sentient beings in the here and now while at the same time unlocking delicious realms of imagination and dreams.
It has become a common phrase in the last months: „These are challenging times.“ Going back to the basics, to find moments of grounding and relief and full-bodied-solutions to challenges has become an important daily practice. Shifting attention to the breath and the senses is a common, meditative practice to literally come to your senses when feeling scattered all over the place or losing oneself. Taking a moment to pause and realize: What do I hear – without judging it, just observing? Cars, birds, a fly… What do I feel? The temperature in the room, my clothes, my hair tickling my ear… What do I see? The darkness of my eyelids – and still, some sparks and colors in it… What do I smell? Suddenly realizing that I don’t pay much attention to smells if they are not prominent… can I smell my own clothes, the dust in the room…? What do I taste? Some toothpaste leftovers, my own saliva,…? What power do I have? To up-regulate or down-regulate myself…to speed up my breathing or slow it down…to change the pace of my heart…of my thoughts… Breathing in, breathing out.
The shift is not only a calming down and feeling closer to oneself, but also becoming curious about the sensations again, being in wonder and awe with the richness of the elemental, entering a beginner’s mind. Also evoking feelings of gratitude. What a gift to be able to get so much interesting information via those portals of the senses! Their diversity, generosity, exuberance, force and sweetness interconnecting us with the world. So we were curious to take this daily simple practice further, to add different stimulating flavors, think up exciting, extravagant, challenging, silly and absurd, libidinously perverse scenarios. We met regularly, walking through thrift stores, buying crazy materials to build wondrous tactile art pieces we used for our private sessions of tactual experiences that move beyond tickling the other with a feather… We experimented with ASMR – pleasuring the other only by using intriguing sounds: the cutting of a shepherds wool-scissor, the breaking of the chocolate of a magnum ice cream, the creaking of hemp rope… We walked through the woods with kaleidoscopes, mirrors and blindfolds and simply fell in love with unlocking our imagination, touching some deeper layers of the unconscious and learning about ourselves and the other through those dedicated and unconventional sensual encounters, that were at times humorous and exhuberant, at times erotic and at times quietly contemplative.
Realizing how knowledge of ourselves, others and the place we inhabit is inextricably shaped by the senses – and so can be reshaped. This allowed us to re-imagine our approach to intimacy that has been changed due to the new politics of touch and distance. Instead of wanting things to get back to some kind of “normal”, we wanted to prepare for a new world of experimenting with what is pleasurable and exciting, also enjoying the new interplay of distance and closeness, without rushing anything. From this the idea for our retreat was born – to harness the breath as a tool for grounding, returning, expanding and dreaming, and to make a collective tribute to the aural, visual, olfactory, haptic and taste. To find new ways of relating to ourselves, each-other and our surroundings – knowing that we are not the only ones feeling, thinking, listening. Creating shared encounters of deep listening and deep responding.
A retreat is time out of time. It’s an invitation to experience yourself differently than in everyday life and open yourself up to unrepeatable situational processes that can not be planned in advance. It’s also a time to restore, reset, recharge and rediscover. To harvest what is nourishing and letting go what is no longer needed. The framework we provide aims at weaving poetics of the interrelations of the body, the mind and the environment. Guiding attention towards perception, interpretation and the unusual to remember the richness and nuances of our sensoria. Encouraging attitudes of openness, presence, curiosity and absence of presuppositions. In solitude as well as in pairs, trios and groups, using a blend of techniques ranging from Physical Theatre and Relational Art, Sexological Bodywork and BDSM, Contact Improvisation and Ritual Play, Butoh dance and Tummo breath, relaxing down-regulating breathwork and Feldenkrais-inspired movement meditations. Our days will feed our nights. Each evening we will offer a space to integrate and expand upon the practices and experiences we have introduced that day. This may take the form of a guided meditation or breathwork session to send you to sleep, or the opening of a play space to escort and inspire you into the night. Story-telling by open fires, howling into the valley, melting into the sauna or just relaxing in silence by the pool as the fauna find slumber, each day we will guide you to sleep and welcome you anew when you wake.
Freed from efficiency we’ll be inviting thinking that conspires with wildness, fusing the fundamental with elegant and creative approaches to giving a form to our fantasies. We’ll be guided by trial and error/eros, sense and non-sense, biting attention to details, surprise and letting-be, laziness and flow: a promise of life.
Picture by Ilme Vysniauskaite