Ananda’s 9/11 Smith Farm Center Wellness Workshop Adventures @Allen AME Church in DC

September 11th was a pretty special day for me this year. I spent the entire day at a wellness workshop sponsored by Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts at Allen AME Church in Washington, DC. During the workshop, I taught a short kind and gentle yoga class for African American DC residents. I also had a chance to connect with Howard University Hospital’s Cancer Center representative. We had a great time talking about the work of Smith Farm artists-in-residence at Howard University Hospital.  By the way, I worked as artist-in-residence at Howard Hospital from 2003 to 2009. Great times! Click here to see more photos from my adventures at the wellness workshop.

Ananda’s National Yoga Month Teaching Gig for Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts at Allen AME Church in DC

National Yoga Month 2010 has been a blast. I taught a kind and gentle yoga class series on September 11, 18, and 25 at Allen AME Church in Washington, DC. The yoga classes were a part of the Healthy U Program for African American DC residents. Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts sponsored the event with Allen AME Church and Union Temple Church. Click here to see more photos from the Healthy U Program.

By the way, I  also work as a Smith Farm artist-in-residence at the National Navy Medical Center in Maryland. Visit

Ananda’s April Creative Adventure: Soul Collage Workshop at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts

Happy Friday!

Last week I scheduled a creative adventure with myself and attended the “SoulCollage Studio” workshop with Barbara Black at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts.  Before I arrived at the workshop, my inner critic archetype Broomhilda tried to disturb my creative flow by ranting and raving about me being 45 minutes late.  Instead of dismissing Broomhilda’s rant, I allowed her to speak her mind.  Why you might ask? Because she represents one of my chosen 8 archetypes who serve as windows of self-discovery.

Ananda's Inner Critic Archetype - Broomhilda

Do you know what archetypes are?  The word archetype is a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.  It refers to the various personalities that live inside of individuals. In my opinion, archetypes invite me to explore, embrace, and accept myself. They bring me closer to myself in ways that allow all of my personalities to serve my highest and greatest good. That’s why I have to take the time to identify, nurture, and welcome them into my life.  Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as team players who use their strengths and share their gifts with one goal in mind: healthy living.  I promise them I will listen to what they have to say. I reassure them I won’t pick favorites or judge their commentary, creativity, communication style, criticism, and concerns. I try to honor their presence with gratitude daily.  I do my best to accept and bless who they are because without my chosen eight I would be lost.

Okay so back to my visit from Broomhilda … my inner critic archetype.  As I walked down U Street to Smith Farm’s offices, I asked Broomhilda why she was upset.  She confessed she was worried I was wasting the $12.50 I paid for the workshop.  She was also worried I would not get what I needed to receive from the workshop. When I listened to Broomhilda’s concerns, I noted that she was trying to make sure I my workshop needs were met in her own unique way (minus her rants).

Once I arrived at Smith Farm’s offices, I promised Broomhilda that I would be fully present in the workshop so my needs would be met. She seemed happy and drifted into the background of the evening.  Here’s the lesson I learned about my inner critic Broomhilda: when I listen to her without judgment or resistance, I demonstrate that I am present and aware of her concerns.  I don’t have to agree with her or take action. I just have to be present and aware.  My gift of presence affirms that she is being heard.  It also creates space in my spirit, mind, body, and heart  to embrace my full self — all eight parts of me.

Barbara Black’s “SoulCollage Studio” workshop was exactly what I needed last week.   SoulCollage is an intuitive collage  process created by Seena Frost, a psychotherapist and spiritual counselor.  During the collage-making process, you create your own cards that mirror a unique and different aspect of your soul and self.  It is the perfect creative adventure for an artist like myself … I love collages and archetypes!

Before I started making my SoulCollages, Barbara guided me through a series of exercises based on ‘The Guest House,” one of my favorite poems by Sufi poet  Rumi. See below.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(From The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)

I also read the quotes below.

  • “I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman
  • “One must separate out the parts of something before these parts can come back together in a new and truly whole and precious way.” C.G. Jung
  • “When the soul wants to experience something, she throws an image of the experience before her and enters into her own image.” Meister Eckhar

I also journaled about my personal qualities, traits, patterns, behaviors, fears, and favorite activities, past times, passions, and pursuits. My journaling opened me up to writing about my inner voices (another phrase for my chosen eight archetypes).  When I completed my journaling, Barbara instructed  me to put my writings away and sit in silence for a few moments.   After those moments passed, Barbara invited me to join the workshop class in creating SoulCollage cards in silence.

Being able to sit in silence with my fellow workshop participants was a special treat.  The silence allowed me to tap into my soul’s intuition.  Check out what I created below. After the collages were made, Barbara facilitated a guided meditation that asked us to discover who the card was in our lives. We were given an opportunity to share one-on-one.  That was a very powerful experience to have someone listen and write down what I thought.  As a result, I developed six-word memoirs to describe each collage. They are included below.


Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage#1 – Joy. Travel. India. Books. Heels. Dresses.

SoulCollage #2

Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage #2: Sparkle. Magic. Goodness of My Life.


Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage #3 – – Touch Earth. Relaxation. Yoga. Meditation. Sangha.

SoulCollage #4

Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage #4 – Smart for Two. Partners. Friends. Lovers.

Have you had a creative adventure this month?

What was it?

Have you made any collages or written any six-word memoirs? Please share them in the comment section.

Enjoy your weekend!

Day 8 of 30 Days of Poetry, Jazz & Earth Day Awareness: Celebrating Poetry as a natural medicine

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It’s day 8 0f my online campaign “30 Days of Poetry, Jazz, and Earth Day Awareness.”  It’s turning into quite a journey. I am falling back in love with many of my favorite poets, jazz singers and musicians, and green living tips.  I am also using this 30 day process to deepen my yoga and physical fitness practice.

What are you doing this month?

Anything fun planned?

Any new projects?

What about travel plans?

This morning I got up early to prepare for my author talk about “Poetry as a natural medicine for the soul” on Ananda Leeke Live via at 9:00 p.m. (EST) tonight.  John Fox’s amazing book Poetic Medicine kept me company.   Fox is the founder of the Institute of Poetic Medicine. I discovered his book and work during the 15th Annual Society for the Arts in Healthcare Conference held in 2006 at Northwestern University’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.  Both have mentored me as an artist-in-residence at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts over the past four years.  Last year, Fox visited Smith Farm and facilitated a poetry healing workshop for the artists-in-residence. It was so powerful.  That experience convinced me to include a section on the power of poetry in my new book That Which Awakens Me.

After I ate breakfast this morning, I recorded an audio blog featuring an excerpt from Poetic Medicine.  I also read a Navaho blessing poem and my poem “Poetry Thursday” from That Which Awakens Me.  Click on the Cinchcast button below to listen to my blog.

Do you think poetry is a natural medicine for the soul?

Here’s my six-word memoir for today: Poetry. Jazz. Earth. Phrases dance naturally.  Please share yours in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by!  Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the healing power of poetry,


Watch Ananda’s April 8th author talk @9pm EST on – “Poetry as a natural medicine for the soul”

Hi all,

Join me for an author talk about poetry as a natural medicine for the soul on April 8 from 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST on Ananda Leeke Live!  During the talk, I will share how I use poetry in my work as an artist-in-residence for Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts and excerpts from my new book That Which Awakens Me.  Click on the link to watch the author talk: If you miss it, you can always watch the video.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the power of poetry,


December 8: An Urban Retreat Day at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts

Greetings All,

What a beautiful day it has been!  I spent it at an urban retreat held at one of my favorite U Street sanctuaries, Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts ( 

The retreat was organized for Smith Farm artists-in-residence who work at local hospitals.  I joined Smith Farm in 2001.  I started working in the hospital setting in January 2003.   Howard University Hospital was the first place I worked.  I have also conducted workshops at Washington Hospital Center’s Cancer Conferences, Holy Cross Hospital’s Breast Cancer Support Groups, and the annual conferences held by the Society for the Arts in Healthcare ( 

Smith Farm is an amazing place to work.  The organization always takes care of its artists with retreats and professional development workshops.  We are always learning and growing.  That’s why I love my Smith Farm family!

The urban retreat began with an amazing writing workshop.  Eight of us had a great time writing poetry and journaling exercises.  We also shared our thoughts.  Right before we lunch we experienced a wonderful gentle yoga session.  My favorite part was the yoga nidra.  That was the piece de resistance for me.  I felt like I was melting away! Yoga yummy! We had a yummy healthy lunch while we held our December meeting and shared our latest news.  I left feeling more relaxed and open to the holiday season and 2010!

What are you doing to relax and prepare for 2010?

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude OMs,


RIP Poet Linda Karlin

Dear All,

I just received news that a dear poet friend Linda Karlin made her life transition yesterday.  Linda had been battling cancer for many years.  We met while serving as artists-in-residence at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts (  Linda was a true creative spirit and healer who shared her gifts of poetry, creative writing, drumming, and Reiki with the world.  She was passionate about many things including art, museums, service, butterflies, nature, the beach, water, reading, spirituality, labryinths, gemstones, and healing modalities.  I am so glad that I was able to know her. I know Linda is now one of my guardian angels.  May she rest in peace surrounded by light and love. May her husband Peter, family, and friends navigate her life transition with peace and grace. 

Blessings to my friend Linda,