This 4-day experimental workshop at Aramesh in April 2019 was run by Edgar Kimathi and Narissa Allibhai, with Khalid Njowa, a guest teacher in Affirmative Art. The aim of the experiment was to test how Affirmative Art can combine with yoga, meditation and Tibetan sound healing. Narissa, also a participant, taught yoga every morning, and got the participants calm and open. This was followed by meditation, led by Edgar Kimathi. Affirmative art is a process by which a person expresses their life-intentions in words and images that offer clarity of vision and intent. Khalid Njowa led two sessions, one for drawing and another for discussion. The Aramesh dogs lay here and there in happy repose. Aramesh considers Affirmative Art a vital process because so many young people in the region, owing to the survival orientation of their parents and relative, squash the unique and sometimes quirky dreams and hopes of the children before even self-recognition or ownership finds expression. Young people need to realize that their dreams matter, and can shape their lives.
The highlight was the drawing session held under the Aramesh Tamarind tree overlooking the beach. Khalid Njowa led a day-long workshop for eight participants of various ages. He had all the participants sketch two large triangles on A3 size papers and then write within the triangles meaningful intentions. These included who they wanted to become and what difference they hoped to make in the world. Salim Said, 16 years old, drew an aeroplane, and pointing at the front, said, “See that person. That is me, the pilot!” (see image below). He also described how meditation gave him a place of peace whenever he felt depressed and lonely.
In another session, Narissa, “Child of the earth” took everyone on a deep journey of healing, rest and restoration with her Tibetan singing bowls in the Aramesh cave.
The lesson learned:
- Affirmative Art, pioneered by Eirik Trondsen and taught to many, including Khalid Njowa, is a critical component of a retreat for all ages, but especially for young people.
- Meditation, when introduced without theological “baggage,” rapidly works, and complements both Affirmative Art and gong healing by giving participants a simple way to look within.
- More work can be done to integrate the various components of the retreat.
- The planned evening session of drumming would have been an important complementary practice did not take place owing to the logistics of meal preparation.