The Embodying Permaculture Retreat Series:
An interactive experience that integrates body, heart, mind, and spirit with the values and principles of permaculture.
Through this course we will:
Embark on a creative journey of inner and outer ecology for personal and collective healing and transformation.
Cultivate a community based approach to earth-activist leadership, engaging in interactive games and exercises that explore each of the five senses.
Explore your integral relationship to the environment, community, and self through eco-psychology and embodied expressive arts, including: transformational theater, embodied movement, eco-poetics, music creation, design mapping, story-weaving, guided visualization, and solutionary discussion.
Course Topics Include:
Organic Cooking, Food Sovereignty Discussion and Mindful Eating
Herbal Medicine Creation, tinctures, oils, salves, infusions and decoctions from herbs
Embodied practices: Pranassage (thai yoga partner massage), yoga, chi-gong
Compassionate Communication & Co-Counseling
Ecovillage, Farm and Garden Design Mapping with Village Building & City Repair
Work That Reconnects - practices from Joanna Macy
Heart Circle / Council, Sacred Intention Setting, Earth Alter Creation
Land Projects at Commonweal Garden
Robin Liepman (Bloom) and Anna Combi (Anahata) are permaculture activists, musicians, and workshop facilitators. They are co-organizers of Blooming Biodiversity and Solutionary Productions, through which they have organized permaculture tours spanning the West Coast: WA, OR, CA, AR, TX, HI, Canada, Costa Rica, Peru, and Bali. These tours bring together communities in transformational celebration to learn and practice permaculture design, principles, ethics, and application. Anna is a certified yoga teacher, bodyworker, and herbalist with a BA in Cross-Cultural Social Work and Sustainable Development. She lived and studied integral spirituality, sustainable communities, and permaculture at Auroville EcoVillage in southern India. Bloom is a Generation Waking Up facilitator with a BA in Psychology and BS in Cognitive Science, and has traveled studying sustainable communities in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, where he first studied permaculture at Finca Bona Fida. They are certified in Starhawk’s Earth Activist Training Permaculture Design Course, and Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects Intensive. They recently worked in the Peruvian Amazon for indigenous Permaculture organization Arkana Alliance teaching music, dance, art and gardening at a Shipibo elementary school in Santa Clara Village. Each summer they teach Ecological Awareness course as part of the Integral Leadership Work Scholar Program at Esalen Institute. They worked as herbalists at Standing Rock, and are currently living at the Regenerative Design Institute in the Commonweal Garden.
Friday, January 13th: arrive at 3pm
3:30-4:30pm: Introduction, Guidelines, Intention Setting, Authentic Relating
4:30-5: Earth Altar Creation
5-6: Transformational Theater
6:30-7:30 Dinner with World Cafe
7:45- 8:45: Earth Activist Music and Closing Circle
Saturday, January 14th
9-10am: Visualization Meditation, Permaculture Principles with Improv Theater, & Change-Maker Groups Solutionary Counsel
10-11am: Land Walk & Land Project
11-12pm: EcoVillage Design Mapping Part 1
12-1:30pm: Organic Cooking Class and Lunch
1:30-2:30pm: Herbalism Workshop Part 1
2:30-3:30pm: The Work that Reconnects (Blindfolded Garden Walk)
3:30-4:30pm: Earth Activist Yoga4:30-5:30pm: Partner Pranassage5:30-6:30pm: Dinner with World Cafe
6:30-7:30pm: Intersection Repair Game
7:45-9pm: Evening Passion Show
Sunday, January 15th
9-10am: Transformational Theater
10-11am: Eco-Poetics & Earth Activist Song-Weaving
11-12pm: EcoVillage Design Mapping Part 2
12-1:30pm: Organic Cooking Class and Lunch
1:30-2:30pm: Herbalism Workshop Part 2
2:30-3:30pm: The Work that Reconnects
(Invoking the Beings of the Three Times pg.172 in Coming Back to Life)
3:30-4:30pm: Solutionary Change-Maker Action Plans4:30-5pm: Closing Ceremony
*Below is not intended for the website, this is our guide of workshop programming*:
3 Hour Workshop Session- Embodied Permaculture Introduction:
Gather participants in a circle with the song “People of the Earth Tribe, Rise Up!”
Introduce ourselves & our Permaculture Tour
Everyone says their name with a dance move & a word or two that share what they love about the earth, and their favorite plant.
2. Earth focused embodied yoga qi-gong and movement flow (15 min)
Participants embody permaculture ethics and their relationship to the Environment, including plants and animals (with related poses).
3. Permaculture Ethics
Gather participants in a Humandala while explaining the three ethics: Care for the Earth, Care for the People, & Fair Share
4. Embodied Awareness Theater Warm Up
Participants mill around the space, wake around like they’re neutral, pretending to be on their phone, really busy, then they become really slow, walking with heal, ball toe, then crawling, then walking with feet first, hips first, hands first, eyes closed with hands first, walking backwards, Everyone gets their permaculture feelers out, taking in everything in the space, all the colors, all the shapes, and all the different energies surrounding, different people, using peripheral vision, looking to the left and right, using full spectrum vision while slowly walking.
5. Permaculture Principles
Everyone mills around the space
For the 12 Permaculture Principles everyone acts out theatrical silhouettes embodying each ethic, while maintaining at least one point of contact/interaction with someone in the group.
Bloom and Anahata will call out social and environmental examples of each principle (have them written down in preparation).
6. Transformational Theater of the Elements
Everybody goes around in a circle and shares which element they are feeling that they are energetically, emotionally and physically embodying in this moment
Everyone goes into groups and acts out problem and solution in relation to this element. One person in the group can be a narrator and everyone else can be an actor. The outline of the skit is as follows: Part 1 is the problem, Part 2 is the solution. If anybody needs examples, we can come around and help give people ideas. We will be floating around to different groups, supporting people in their process.
Everyone presents the skits.
7. The Five Senses
SIGHT: Pattern game. Everyone sits in a circle. One person volunteers to leave the circle out of sight of the group. The group silently picks a leader who begins leading movements in patterns that the rest of the group copies. The guesser is called back, sits in the middle of the circle, and then has to guess who is leading the group. Everyone observes the nature mandala in the center and call out patterns they notice and patterns they see in nature on the micro and macro level.
TOUCH: Everyone picks a partner. One person turns their back, and the other person draws patterns on the back. After a few minutes, the person being drawn on turns around and expresses what pattern they felt. Partners switch and repeat.
FEEL: Buto, movement from seed to tree. With eyes closed, participants are lead through somatic experience, turning into a tree, growing seeds, going through the four seasons, releasing the seed, and growing into a new tree.
SOUND: Everyone sits in a circle, starting with one person making a beat, and going clockwise with everyone adding a sound until a permaculture symphony is created. People stand up and move around the room, continuing to make their sound. They find one more person to merge sounds with. The group of two meets another group of two to merge sounds. This continues till all have rejoined in a circle to re-create the symphony. Then we end with a low Om, a high Om, a harmonic Om, and then a rising Om.
SMELL: Essential oils or plants from the garden of different varieties are passed around.so that everyone is given four different herbs or essential oils. Participants are guided through a smelling meditation, connecting memories & mental/emotional response to the smells. Time is spent talking about how these oils are forms of medicine. Optional: Learning about toxic chemicals in more conventional soaps/products. Talk about wild-harvesting herbs and having a relationship to smells. Talk about allergies.
TASTE: Eating Meditation. Participants are guided through smelling, feeling, seeing and hearing the food in their hands. The eating meditation guides the participants through a journey of where the food came from, from seed to sprout to harvest to packaging to distribution, involving all people involved, it’s whole story, and how it got here, and discussing food sovereignty. This is done with both something local and fresh, and something store bought.
8. Solutionary Discussion Council
Taking a stance: Everyone stands up. One axis is explained to represent viewpoint of the current industrial-growth complex model, with one side saying it’s the best thing that’s ever happened and the other side saying it’s the worst. Participants stand closer to the end they agree with most. A second axis is introduced representing time. One side represents that we have no time left, the other side represents infinite time. Participants stand where they feel most connected. Then people get a chance to share their reasoning for where they stand, making sure people on different areas of the map get to share.
Four Change-Maker Groups
Participants form five groups based on the type of change-maker they wish to discuss.
Community Organizing & Development
Direct Action, Activism & Education
Media & Expressive Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Film)
Science & Technology
These questions are asked to the groups:
“What is the importance of this form of changemaking?”
“How do you see yourself in a change maker in this area?”
“How can your group work together with the other groups?”
“What is your direct action plan for making change in this form?”
Guided Dream Eco-village Visualization Meditation
Entelechy exercise: Seeing and merging with your greatest, most evolved version of yourself.
Ending with a humandala & song: “We are the people at the full height of our power!”
Outline of the Eco-Poetics & Song Weaving Experience
Everyone learns an empowering song and plays along with instruments and drums.
Everyone says their name with a dance move, the element they are feeling most physically and emotionally connected to, and their favorite plant.
Guided Sacred Place in Nature & Creating a life sustaining world Meditation
3. Rainforest of Sound
Sitting in a circle, one person at a time, everyone comes up with a sound that they repeat over and over. After one person starts, in a clockwise order, each person adds until we get a rainforest symphony of sound.
4. Partner Plant Singing
Everyone stands up, continuing to make their sound, and moves around the space, emodying their sound. Everyone finds a partner and creates a harmony in groups of two. Groups of two become groups of four, etc., until eventually everyone reunites in a rainforest of sound.
5. Weed, Seed & Flower
Workshop participants get into three groups, one for weed, which represents things we want to weed out of our lives, one for seed, which represents seeds we want to plant in our lives, and one for flower, which represents that which is already flowering in our lives.
Each group comes up with a simple chorus about their theme, weed, seed or flower
Each group teaches the chorus to the larger group.
Ending with a humandala & song: “We are the people at the full height of our power!”
Session 3: 5-Senses Garden Exploration
Exploration of the 5 senses through guided blindfolded garden experience. In pairs students observe the Esalen garden, tasting, touching, smelling and feeling plants. Then students visually draw out their experience and write a journal entry. Students then go back into the garden with eyes open, reconnecting to the area, and write another journal entry on what they noticed visually. The prompts are: “What did you notice and perceive?” “How did you feel?” “What was surprising?” “What was familiar?” “Why do you think the garden is designed in the way that it is? What are some of the important features you found interesting?”
Outline of the 5-Senses Garden Exploration
1. Begin with Mindful Walking Meditation throughout Garden with open eyes
2. Movement Meditation connecting to a plant
3. Plant Song
4. In pairs students observe the Esalen garden, tasting, touching, smelling and feeling plants
Objective: Emotional relationship to garden & full trust from the guidance of a partner
Then students visually draw out their experience and create poetry with colored pencils.
Students then go back into the garden with eyes open, reconnecting to the area, and write another journal entry on what they noticed visually.
The journal prompts are:
“What did you notice and perceive? How did you feel? What was surprising? What was familiar?”
“Why do you think the garden is designed in the way that it is? What are some of the important features you found interesting?”
“What was it like being guided by your partner?”
“How is it different experiencing the garden through these four senses without sight?”
“Now that you have your eyes open, what does it feel like to see the garden visually after experiencing it through your other four senses?”
“What is your relationship to each of your senses?”
5. Herb and Flower Collection
Participants learn about different herbs and flowers and their medicinal uses, and collect them to make fresh tea blends for solar infusions, and to make a plant mandala.
6. Plant Mandala Creation
7. Closing Plant Song