It is the middle of the first month of a new decade. I really like January; the start of a new year; a chance to rest, reflect and recalibrate after an intense few months during which I, like most people, trudge around like a battery powered toy with one bar left, sleep-walking inside brightly lit rooms at the darkest time of the year to work through an endless to-do list. January feels like the reward for ploughing on, for fighting the instinct to hibernate, and provides the time and permission to finally recharge.
This January, in particular, marks the start of the last year of my 30s and, as well as thinking about the year ahead in the way that I usually do, I am using this as an opportunity to set intentions for the coming decade and I find myself actively trying to make more time in my life for the things that bring me joy. I was an avid dreamer when I was younger, into every kind of craft, absorbing new ideas, seeking out books and music that would inspire me, and feeling in awe of the world around me. These tendencies are still there but as a slightly jaded adult I want to harness them again, doing things just ‘for the sake’ of them or because they will light up a part that has been left in the dark for some time.
So I began this year by booking myself on to two courses. The first was Level One Reiki and the second was a glass fusion workshop focusing on landscapes and seascapes. My reiki workshop was a one day session with Brighton based yoga teacher Sarah Dawson. I have been to many of her classes, especially her seafront sessions during the summer, and she is a very calming and inspiring teacher. The workshop began with a short meditation to focus our awareness on the present moment and Sarah explained the principles of Reiki, which translates from Japanese into ‘wisdom/knowledge’ (rei) and ‘lifeforce/energy’ (ki).
Our intentions for the day were set out in reiki principles –
Just for today, I will not anger;
Just for today, I will let go of worry;
Just for today, I will do my work honestly;
Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings;
Just for today, I will be kind to my neighbour and every sentient being;
If ever there was a time to try to bring more positive energy into the world, this is it! She gave us an outline of the lineage and a history of energy healing before giving us our Reiki I attunement by working through our chakras and opening up ‘energetic pathways’.
This attunement, says Sarah, does not give us anything new, it opens and aligns what is already part of us, like turning on a light. We can use it for self-healing, or to practice direct healing on others, if it feels right. There were just two of us in the class, and while the other participant received her attunement, I sat in the kitchen wondering if anything felt different after mine. Like many people I know, I often find there is a power battle between my adult mind and the rest of me – my core – that inquisitive, daydreaming child, perhaps, who was outgrown by a more ‘rational’ self. It was good to be challenged and try to quieten that questioning inner voice for a while.
We then practiced the treatment which involved placing our hands on the other person – starting with their head and working down to their feet, channelling life force energy having just been attuned to it. Sarah says the way ahead is to “Just “do” Reiki and be free of limitations.”
After my Reiki I, I am told to expect several different sensations, such as feeling spacey or tingly, having intense, or past life, dreams. Sarah says “This is simply the energy adjusting and increasing the healer’s capacity to channel it.” It was a fascinating and thought-provoking day and I took lots from it, especially the idea that reiki can be used to self-heal, especially when you are feeling fearful, or negative. “Send love, light and compassion from your heart and channel Reiki to heal that part of you, and breathe deeply to release it”. What better way to start the new decade!
A week later, I drove down to WarmGlassUK in Bristol, which is where I buy my supplies for glass fusion. I had signed up for a two day workshop in creating landscapes and seascapes in glass. I have been making glass pieces to sell for about seven years and I find that I have become commercially minded, making pieces to sell and re-making them if they had sold. I wanted to ‘play’, enjoy the process, be open to learning and trying something new.
It didn’t disappoint! The first technique we were shown was the ‘riverrocks experiment’, which is using the reactive qualities created by the metals in glass to create interesting effects, perfect for a pebbly beach. It is like alchemy!
We then used fine powders to create a landscape, using different shades for the background and foreground, to create a sense of perspective in the scene.
I created a foggy wintry landscape, with a leafless tree on the top layer, to be fused over the first layer on a second firing. I then used a photo of a sunset taken in Brighton over Christmas to use bright reds, oranges and purples to try to recreate it in glass.
There were so many samples we could draw on for inspiration – I love the texture left behind by the powdered glass.
We also played with other reactive qualities in glass – using copper oxide to paint a building – of course I chose the West Pier ! – and placed it over a layer of vivid red and orange powder. When it is fired, the outline will react with the base layer and turn bubbly brown.
It was so refreshing to try something new with materials that I have been using for a few years, with no expectations other than to play and experiment. The finished pieces will be posted to us when they are fired and I love the expectation of waiting to see how they will look!
So, this year so far has begun as I have intended – to try to reconnect with a thirst and enthusiasm for new things without too many expectations placed on myself – to find joy where I can and to try to see the world in the inquisitive way that my younger self did.