Every year for the past 5 years I have organised a weekend event for the Brussels Imagination Club in conjunction with the Nijmegen Imagination Club. It started off as a very informal event in somebody’s home. It has slowly grown and become a regular thing in larger rented premises somewhere in the countryside. This year it was held in an old Abbey that is remarkably close to my home. (Pure coincidence).
Organising anything takes up a lot of time and can give a bit of stress, but I must admit to enjoying the outcome. So it is well worth all the self-questioning and not knowing and indecisiveness. It can be quite hard though to ensure that everyone will be happy. Mainly around the food and drink.
Nowadays, people can be quite fussy about what they consume. Some people gave me indications and their preferences, but some things I have to think about, somebody is bound to be vegetarian or not eat much meat, so there always has to be a veggy option.
It is not really a problem at all, there are plenty of things that can be made and that are rather tasty, it is the gluten free, wheat free, lactose free ones that worry me. Luckily nobody mentioned that this year, so I was able to buy pretty much everything we needed, people are also quite flexible if they have to be. The job of shopping is split between two of us, so that requires a lot of coordination, only one or two items were left off the list and we were able to get them locally and very quickly.
The weekend is a mixture of workshops and time out, cooking, and eating together. The workshops are all pretty much wellness based (Yoga, Nature, Photography, Singing Bowls, and other such life enhancing/self development), and this years set of workshops was fantastic, without exception.
After all the introductions and explaining a little about the clubs, we started the ball rolling on Friday with a Soul Collage workshop where the idea is to go through hundreds of images and make a collage with the images that strike you somehow at that particular moment in time, you then tell the story of what the images represent to you and stick them permanently on a card and put it in a see through sleeve to preserve it. It is then yours to consult at any time, to remind you of how you were feeling and how to interpret things through imagery.
Quite powerful stuff actually, plus it’s rather nice to sit down, daydream and go through all those images and cut out shapes and play with glue and work out why some images have so much meaning for you. Very thought provoking. Time passes so quickly when engrossed and in the flow.
As suspected, It was rather late by the time we finished and the workshop sparked many conversation as we learnt something about ourselves and also about others. Drinks flowed and snacks were nibbled. Some of us didn’t want the evening to end just yet.
Saturday was a long day, with the first of the workshops being a Nature Photography workshop. It was all about storytelling and framing a subject, not technical at all. We spent a lovely couple of hours wandering the Abbey grounds snapping things from different angles and thinking about the patterns we saw, trying different ways of taking an image using the light, remembering the rule of thirds and trying not to fall into the lake when getting closer to the ducks. It is late mushroom season, so lots of strange things to capture with our cameras.
Lunch was a very tasty affair and much enjoyed, it gave us the energy for the next workshop on being kinder to ourselves by reframing the way we talk to ourselves. The exercises were mostly about writing down things we liked about ourselves, then a list of things we liked less about ourselves and then putting a positive swing on things by rewriting them again with different phrases and then getting other to read out our inner most secrets (in pairs) and seeing how that felt and modifying the text if it needed it.
Again, quite powerful. We have a natural tendency to listen to the negative narrative inside our head. It is nice to realise it can be reframed and rewritten.
The third and final workshop on Saturday evening, after the most delicious evening meal, was one of the most awesome workshops I have ever experienced. It was a workshop based on sound and vibrations. Using various instruments we were taken on a journey of musical meditation and every single person in the room was completely blown away by the depth of meditation that we reached using sound alone, voice and instrument. A lot of people (including me) fell asleep during the workshop it was so hypnotic. The combined sound of singing bowls, drums, snoring and the facilitator’s voice was amazing to say the least. I will definitely repeat that experience again one day.
Half the people were so relaxed they headed straight to bed, but some of the die-hards stayed up for a lovely drink and fireside chat. (I was in the die-hard group).
Sunday was a slow start (as it should be), and the first workshop after a lazy breakfast, was led by me, it was a guided mindful nature walk with some info on the local fauna and flora and some hints and tips on how to navigate in the wild and some info on how some plants grow the way they do.
I also managed to get people to slow down considerable and really notice as much as possible what was around them. Many people did not see anything until I pointed out what was obvious to me. They would have walked past quite happily all the wonderful things there are to see when you actually look.
People almost crawled to a halt as they realised there was so much to see once it had been pointed out. Lots of pictures were taken during the workshop and we compared these once we got back to the house for a debrief.
The final workshop of the weekend really stretched me. It was the Japanese Do-In Yoga and Irene expertly took us through all these new poses and stretches and I still feel my muscles as I write this post.
That was the weekend in a nutshell, it doesn’t cover all the hundreds of conversations we had, nor the team work setting the table for dinner, creating the atmosphere in the main room, cooking together, clearing up and doing the dishes. It simply doesn’t cover the hundreds of questions we asked or things we thought or things we saw. It will take a while to digest the weekend fully, but I am happy it went so well and without any major incidents.
If you really want to know what happens on an Imagination Club Weekend ,you’ll have to come along and find out yourself. Next year perhaps?
See you in 2017
P.S. Some of the comments that came back after the weekend:
“A big thank you to Andy and Irene for having organised this very nice weekend.
I liked a lot all the workshops, the food and the nice atmosphere.
Hope to see you soon at the Imagination Club in Brussels or next year!”
“Yes it was heartwarming, fun, delicous, nice . ….special thanks to Andy’s hard work and the cooks!”
“Very nice weekend indeed!! Thank you all 🙂 Especially for all the organization, the cooking.” ❤
“I Just want to tell you that the weekend in Belgium was really heart warming thanks to you all.
I am happy to have experienced this nice weekend and it remembered me of the importance of being connected.
Sometimes in normal life people en me included are busy busy busy and we forget the most important part of human life, to be connected and give time to each other.
The workshops were lovely , the food was great”
“We have to say thanks to you! And Irene. You made it happen! I’m very grateful that I’ve been part of this Imagination Club.”