DurgaMata of London
Workshops & Retreats
Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting Workshops -
Step aside from the pressure and stress of work and give yourself some Quality Me-Time -
In addition to creating her hand-painted silk scarves and High Consciousness Meditation Cushions, DurgaMata also gives 4-hour - Half-Day Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting Workshops.
Having been practicing mindfulness and meditation for over 40 years and being an accomplished Silk Paint artist, she has all the expertise to make these workshops transformational but above all they are fun.
She says, ‘Silk Painting is a super-fun, gentle and therapeutic activity. You don’t have to have any prior experience of silk-painting. You don’t have to be good at art. With the liquid dyes on the fine white silk, you get stunning results every time. You play with the silk and the silk plays with you, creating stunning colours and patterns that you couldn't even imagine - and there are no mistakes!’
The Next live event - Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting Workshop -
is coming up
2 - 6pm on 31st October,
in the beautiful Marwood Room,
St Luke's Church, Kew, The Avenue, Richmond, TW9 2AJ
Treat yourself to a joyful, creative afternoon - Practise Mindfulness, Paint a beautiful Silk Scarf and enjoy a buffet meal with friends.
About this event
When did you last take time out to enjoy some peaceful and creative 'Me Time'?
We all know that 'You can't pour from an empty pot' - but our time tends to be directed outwards, meeting other people's needs. How to find that quality time for nourishing our own life?
And how can we best nurture and grow our inner resilience so that we can stand strong in the face of all the changes that seem to be coming thick and fast in these troubled times? The statistics show that stress and depression are on the rise and that is hardly surprising - but what can we do about it? This workshop may just be the answer you are looking for.
Restore your Life-Balance
If you have a habit of prioritising the demands of work and the needs of the family over your own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, this may be your opportunity to restore your inner and outer life-balance and give yourself a treat.
This is a premium transformational 4-hour workshop but for October and November I am offering this at an introductory HALF PRICE.
How the Stress-Reduction Works
My approach to reducing stress, building resilience and increasing happiness has evolved over several years and my workshops are unique. In this Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting Workshop we begin with some basic mindfulness training, learning and practising strategies which have been shown in clinical trials to be effective in reducing stress and depression. We then move on to the silk-painting. We explore the nature and meaning of colour in some depth and then you choose the colours you wish to use for your scarf.
Much of our stress is generated by our mind overthinking and chattering away incessantly. If we practise any soulful creative activity, our mind becomes absorbed in the process and drawn into the present moment. Silk-painting is particularly effective at this and as we paint our mind is drawn into the moment as we watch the liquid dyes spread out into the silk and mix together creating colours and patterns we could never imagine. The results are always beautiful.
The unique silk scarf that you create is not only a delightful piece of wearable art, but also serves to anchor the mindfulness strategies that you have just been learning.
When you have painted your scarf, fixed the colours (using steam in a microwave oven) and rinsed your finished work, we hang the scarves to dry ready for ironing. Then we put away the paint and bring out the food - and have a party.
One of the most effective strategies in reducing stress and depression is to spend time in the company of positive, cheerful people and this workshop is designed to create just such an experience. This is a joyful party with a buffet of healthy vegetarian refreshments. There is no alcohol and limited sugar, so no cakes or wine - but there is provision for vegan and gluten-free diets. It may not be everyone's 'cup of tea' but it is delicious healthy food and a great opportunity to meet with interesting people who we have begun to get to know during the workshop. We always have a lot of laughter. We finish the event with live music - and dancing if you wish.
Come and replenish your energy with DurgaMata. Nourish your body, mind, emotion and spirit - and above all - enjoy the fun.
Who is DurgaMata?
I am an Author and Public Speaker as well as being a Silk-Paint Artist, Musician, Teacher and Coach. I have been practising mindfulness and meditation for over 40 years and am an unusually positive and cheerful person, keen to share what I have learned over the years, to empower people and spread as much happiness as I can in the time that remains to me.
As a teacher I specialised in Art and Religious Education but I also developed a concern for health and wellbeing. My own experience of dealing with challenges both at home and at work, using meditation and mindfulness, inspired me to learn more about stress and depression. At first I simply gave informal support to colleagues and friends who were suffering from depression and burnout, but increasingly I took this 'new twist to my career' seriously. When I retired from teaching, I fully embraced entrepreneurship, learning from both study and practice what is most effective in reducing stress and depression and increasing happiness.
I am a silk-paint artist, painting as a form of meditation and for some time I sold my silk scarves at Covent Garden Market and gave silk-paint parties and workshops but I wanted to do more than simply teach the skill of silk-painting and create beautiful artworks. I wanted to work on raising consciousness which I believe to be essential for any enduring positive change or personal transformation.
I began to integrate mindfulness practises into my silk-paint workshops - and that combination worked so well that I really was able to empower those who came to the workshops and 'make a difference.' My students discovered for themselves that these workshops were empowering, improving their ability to meet challenges with resilience and increasing their happiness. The smiles speak for themselves.
My 'Seven Steps to Happiness' and 'Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting' Workshops - 2019 - 2021
In 2019 I expanded my afternoon workshops into three-day retreats, developing my signature Programme 'The Seven Steps to Happiness.' This is a comprehensive and holistic approach to empowerment and transformation. I was on the cusp of expanding these into longer retreats when covid19 arrived on the scene.
Before the pandemic, I offered my half-day Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting workshops from a small room in my local Community Centre - but as we all experienced in 2020, face-to-face events became impossible.
I moved my Seven Steps to Happiness Programme online - into a 9-week event - and wrote three books in 2020!
Now, as restrictions are lifted, the need for face to face events and especially stress-reducing workshops is greater than ever - so I have moved my Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting Workshops to a larger venue - in Kew, (SW London.) Here I can invite more people and it is also more convenient with onsite parking and Kew Gardens Station only a ten minute walk away.
In the photo below, taken at this new venue, during my September Workshop, we are practising a mindfulness exercise.
What is Happiness and how does it relate to stress?
You can think of happiness like this - In the depths of our heart, there is a sun of happiness. But life is full of problems and difficulties which create clouds of stress that can cover up our inner sun. Soulful creative activities like silk-painting take us away from the agitated mind and into the heart which is full of inner peace and joy. As the clouds of stress clear, our inner sun of happiness is once more able to flood our lives with its beautiful light.
Regain the simple sense of happiness that we all enjoyed as a child, when just being alive was exciting and we woke every morning with enthusiasm and delight.
Come and experience this transformative and empowering Mindfulness-Joy Silk-Painting workshop for yourself.
With a maximum of 15 places, I recommend that you reserve your place now to avoid disappointment as these workshops are likely to book up very quickly.
Giving Back - Oneness and Compassion
We all suffer from stress and I want to make my workshops open to the widest possible range of people, so by charging a competitive price I will ensure the flexibility needed to bring in a small number of people who would not be able to pay the full price. For example, from my own teaching profession - schoolchildren, university students and newly qualified teachers, will need some sponsorship. Then among the front-line workers - nurses, midwives and ambulance drivers may need sponsorship. In every local area there are social workers and carers who are dealing with some of the most stressed and vulnerable people in society. Council budgets are tight so they are not well-paid. They are likely to need some sponsorship - and as someone who was a single parent myself for many years and spent time with my young son in temporary accommodation, I am not forgetting those who may be suffering stress due to housing or family problems - or those who are underpaid or unemployed with stress exacerbated by poverty. All of those would need sponsorship as would many who came to our land as refugees and those off-work due to stress-related illness!
Life is hard for many people. And a business like mine is not just about profits. It is also about serving what I call 'the divine' in the world, being open so that I can to respond to need and circumstance with kindness and compassion, without compromising my business - and after a life rich in blessings, finding opportunities to give something back.
All the 'business-coaches' tell me that I need to choose a niche and focus on my 'ideal client' but I refuse to do that. Stress is ubiquitous. It affects everyone. My workshops are powerful and effective. I want to make them available to all those who want and need this kind of event. I will be looking for sponsorship but also using some of my profits to support a few students each month to take part in the workshops when they could not have done so without help.
The price for this workshop is £150 each - and you are welcome to pay in full. This will enable me to sponsor one or two individuals who want and need this kind of experience, but will require a bit of financial help in order to take part.
I will be very happy if you choose to pay in full but as a special introductory offer I am offering a half-price option for everyone for my next two workshops, so you are welcome to choose this and pay only £75.00.
This is only for October and November, so book now to benefit from this opportunity.
Booking is through Eventbrite here.
Learn to 'Surf the Stress.'
We all suffer from stress - but we can learn strategies to deal with it so that we stay on top. Then the challenges of life become more like a game than a threat. I call it 'Surfing the Stress.'
Toxic stress is extremely harmful to health and can cause strokes and heart-attacks, as well as crippling anxiety attacks, depression, overload and burnout. Learn to 'Surf the Stress' before it swamps you. This workshop will help you do just that.
One of the best strategies is to ring-fence' some quality 'Me Time' each month - so you have something to look forward to. It is not just like a holiday, which is great while it lasts, but then the stress just creeps up again. The benefits you gain from the workshop will be enduring because in the workshops we are learning and practising strategies which empower us and give us the skills we need to be more resilient and deal with stress in a better way.
This workshop is a lot of fun, but also powerful option because it includes learning and practising tried and tested mindfulness-strategies which you can put to immediate use - micro-practises which you can integrate into your busy life immediately, whatever your circumstances.
The event itself is creative and sociable . We have a lot of fun - and these are some of the most effective tools for reducing stress, building resilience and increasing happiness.
When did you last put yourself first?
Come and experience this transformational workshop for yourself, and if you find you love it, take advantage of the special rate I'm offering now. I will be offering those of you who come in October and November the same half-price rate for six more repeat bookings .
Team-Building and Leadership Training.
Incidentally, the workshops offer a great Team-Building Experience and I give special rates for group bookings. I also offer bespoke mindfulness-workshops for Leadership Training and Silk-Painting Parties in your home or workplace.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thank you for your interest in my workshops. I look forward to seeing you soon .
Silk dyes are fixed by exposing them to steam - and Marble Style scarves are made directly in a microwave dish. There is a nice example of this process on YouTube - https://youtu.be/YEsrZpGaV1Q
Here is a Marble-Style scarf created in one of my workshops. The colours swirl together in an organic way, the blue and yellow blending to give green in places.
With the next technique - Dapple Style - you spread the silk out on a mat and gather it into peaks which the dye flows down. You then drip dye on using a pipette.
The advantages with the Dapple Style are that we have more control over the process - and can include white as one of the colours.
This photograph shows the same silk scarf folded, beribboned and packaged in a plastic pocket. The artist who painted this one, said she wanted her scarf to go with all her outfits!
This was a silk-paint party at her home.
You can choose to package your completed silk scarf in a plastic pocket, or box. The packaging materials and ribbons are all provided along with all the materials necessary for creating your scarf and participating in the Mindfulness Exercises.
The following three 'Dapple' scarves are some of my own design, sold through my Etsy shop and at Craft Fairs.
In my workshop, you can choose up to four colours but the best effects often come when we use just two or three colours.
The third Style which you can choose from is Agate. You may know that Agate is a beautiful stone with banding patterns of colour. In our Agate Style, you create a silk scarf which is similarly banded or striped - but in an organic, not mathematically precise way.
I find that three colours usually work best, but you can also dilute the dyes to get softer, pastel shades.
The left hand end of this scarf.
The right hand end
Folded and tied ready for packaging.
The following photo is from a silk-painting Hen Party, again in the client's own home.
The following photos are from a recent workshop in the current venue - The Marwood Room, St Luke's Church, in Kew, Richmond, London
First I am demonstrating the silk-painting process.
Then the artists choose their colours.
The great thing with silk-painting is that the silk is playing along with you and all the results are beautiful.
While you are engaged in any creative and soulful activity, your mind is drawn into the process, so the restless thoughts tend to die down and you feel a deep and refreshing sense of inner peace and happiness.
The following photos show painting in process
ironing the silk scarves after fixing the dyes.
Sharing our lovely creations.
These unique and beautiful silk scarves are less an hour old - and they will go on to act as a physical anchor for all the mindfulness-learning.
Sharing food with friends is one of the most joyful ways of reducing stress and increasing happiness.
For our concluding 'party,' I provide a buffet of vegetarian dishes with options for vegan and gluten-free diets.
Conscious of health, this spread is low in sugar and processed foods.
There are no alcoholic beverages but an excellent range of teas and fruit-juices in addition to regular tea and coffee.
It is widely known that many forms of creativity can reduce stress and aid wellbeing. Mindfulness-Meditation silk-painting is a particularly effective medium to use for this.
If you place some paint on paper, the paint stays just where you put it. You are ‘in control’ because you choose the colours and they stay where you place them. Then you look at what you have created with a critical or appreciative eye. Your mind comes forward to judge your work. You either think, ‘ Oh! I’m no good at this, why am I wasting my time?’ and feel disheartened, or if you like the result you think -
‘Oh this is beautiful. I am so great,’ which can cause the ego to grow. (The ego is our sense of self - as separate from others. This tends to want the world to revolve around it and likes to feel important. It tends to be jealous and competitive towards others and always want to be the best, ready to put others down to achieve a sense of power and superiority - which is the opposite of spiritual progress.)
But when you paint on silk, in a meditative way, freely (without a medium like wax or gutta to block the threads) as soon as the liquid dye touches the fabric it spreads. You have no control. You play with the silk and it plays with you.
Touch the silk with one colour on your brush - or drip the liquid dye onto the silk from a dropper. The fibres draw the liquid in and it spreads gently, at its own speed. Touch it with another colour and this is drawn gently into the fibres where it blends into the existing colours, creating shades and patterns which you could never dream of - and they are all beautiful. There are no mistakes. There is nothing for your mind to judge or criticise because all the results are so satisfying. There is no competition, no disappointment- and all the thoughts in your busy mind subside as you are drawn deeply into the meditative experience of the painting.
I like to fold and tie the silk scarves with ribbon myself - so that I can add a personal touch of love and oneness. It is a privilege to share with you what I love and have found effective in my own experience.
This philosophy or 'inner attitude' is at the heart of all my work and one of the secrets behind the effectiveness of my workshops in 'raising consciousness' which I believe to be essential if we really do want to make a positive difference - either in our own lives or in the wider world. This change in consciousness is the magic behind true transformation and in this context it really does reduce stress, build resilience and increase happiness.
We end with live music - I play the Pipe and Tabor. If you play an instrument and would like to 'jam' with me - to share in celebration and add more positive energy, do bring it along. Lets see if we can get everyone on their feet and dancing!!
Just One Exercise to leave you with - Conscious Breathing -
In future, when the waves of stress come rolling in - just hold the beautiful silk scarf you created in the workshop, close. Close your eyes and feel the peace. Your scarf will remind you of the workshop and all the strategies we practised together the day you painted it.
Conscious Breathing is the first exercise we practise in my workshop. Most people know that conscious breathing helps to reduce stress, but do they practise it? Any transformation requires action. Conscious Breathing is an exercise which, when practised regularly, really can make a massive difference to our stress-levels.
Much of our stress comes from our mind, worrying about things that didn't go so well in the past and things that might cause problems in the future. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to bring our restless mind into the present moment and one of the simplest ways to do that is to focus our attention on our breath.
Just watch your breath entering and leaving your body. This is Conscious Breathing.
Take a slow, gentle but deep breath in, right from the belly, using the diaphragm to fill your lungs with air. Much of the time our breathing is shallow and simply adds tension to our neck and shoulders, because we are not breathing from the diaphragm, we are not filling our lungs. So this is something to be aware of and correct when practising conscious breathing.
Take in a slow, deep diaphragmatic breath.
Hold briefly and then follow with a slow, gentle exhale.
Make your exhale longer than the inhale.
Some important theory about stress and how it affects our body.
At every moment, there are countless activities going on inside our body, which are essential for life. We don't have to think about these automatic activities consciously. Our heart beats, our food digests we breathe in and out without giving these things a thought. These activities are governed by the Autonomic nervous system. And within the autonomic nervous system there are two competing processes - one for action and one for rest. These balance each other to provide us with just the right internal conditions for our body to flourish and thrive.
The Sympathetic Nervous System is all about Action.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is all about Rest and Repair.
You may have heard about the Vagus Nerve which is central when it comes to the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
If we are in danger, the Sympathetic Nervous System jumps into action and closes down anything that is not required for our survival. This works well if the danger is physical, needing us to respond with fight or flight - but in our society today, many of the stressors are not physical, so the stress response can get switched on for most of the time with very little time to recover or repair. This causes many chronic illnesses including anxiety attacks, burnout, strokes and heart-attacks. It is known as Chronic or Toxic Stress and it can affect us all. But we can learn how to manage the autonomic nervous system and that starts with conscious breathing.
We have little control over most of our autonomic nervous system but we do have the capacity to regulate our breathing - and that, done correctly, can have a direct effect on the Vagus Nerve. We really can learn to 'turn down the volume' of our Stress-Response.
When you have a fright, you tend to gasp - a sharp intake of breath. Our inhale is linked to the 'sympathetic nervous system' - the stress-response which leaps into action to protect us from danger and prepare us for fight and flight.
In contrast to this, when we are relieved that everything is fine, we take a big sigh of relief - we exhale deeply. Our exhale is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system which brings rest, relaxation, digestion and healing. That is why, when we use conscious breathing explicitly to reduce stress, we need to make the exhale longer than the inhale. We are stimulating the Vagus Nerve and turning up the volume of the parasympathetic nervous system, strengthening the 'rest and digest response' while turning down the volume of the 'stress-response.' That's why it is important to make our outgoing breath a little longer and slower than the inhale.
To get back to the practise -
Take in a slow, deep diaphragmatic breath.
Hold briefly and then follow with a slow, gentle exhale.
Make your exhale longer than the inhale.
After another brief hold, repeat this routine for a few minutes.
If it feels helpful to you, work out a regular rhythm of deep inhale, hold, slow exhale, hold.
In my workshop we count 4 for the in-breath, 4 for holds, 8 for the outgoing breath and 4 again for the hold. We keep that up for for three minutes.
Experiment with rhythms that suit you.
When you practise diaphragmatic (belly-deep) breathing and rhythmic breathing (where you count the length of the inhale, exhale and holds) this has an even more powerful effect on reducing stress than simple conscious breathing. This one exercise of rhythmic breathing has been shown, in clinical tests, to reduce blood-pressure while lowering and steadying the rate of your heart-beat. It has the effect of 'turning down the volume' on your stress and calming your restless mind, while stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and giving you a sense of deep, calm and refreshing rest.
While you hold your beautiful silk scarf to help you remember this and all the other strategies we practised in the workshop, you can discover for yourself, experientially, which ones work best for you. We are the only person who can do this. We can reduce our stress and increase our happiness. We may have had some horrible experiences in our past, but slowly and gradually we can take command over our present moment and that will 'steer' our lives' towards a happier future.
These mindfulness-strategies really do work - but as with any practise, be aware of your own unique physiology. Never do anything which causes strain or feels uncomfortable. Go at your own pace and don't expect instant results. Like any exercise, we need regular practise and patient, compassionate attitude.
As we discover for ourselves at the workshop, just the simple action of Conscious Breathing - watching the breath in a conscious way, causes us quite spontaneously and naturally to breath more deeply and slowly.
When we understand a little of the underlying physiology or biology, we can appreciate that this starts to move our autonomic nervous system from sympathetic (action and stress) to parasympathetic (rest and digest) reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bloodstream, slowing out heart-beat and lowering blood-pressure.
Before, we felt stressed. But now something has changed. The outer situation may still be the same, but it is not affecting us in the same way. Now we are 'surfing the stress' and the more we can practise this Conscious Breathing - and other mindfulness strategies, the more control we gain in our life and the less we will suffer from the harmful effects of stress.
Please let me know if you have not had the double vaccination dose - so I can organise things in a way that offers best protection for everyone including yourself.
I know that some people have had finances impacted by the pandemic. If you would like to come but funding is a stumbling block, book a call with me and we can work something out. My first aim is service, so I will be as flexible as I can. All frontline workers, social workers, care workers, teachers and others who have been working round the clock to keep us all safe, can request a 50% discount. Book a call on https://bit.ly/3yubGiP
As an artist DurgaMata has always been fascinated with colour, light and energy and she specialises in painting on silk. Painting spontaneously - as a form of meditation – she pours the positive energy and inner peace which flow in her meditation, into the very fibres of the fabric. Her motto is, ‘hold it close and feel the peace.’ Colour itself is nothing but energy, she explains, and silk-painting with dyes which are fixed by a process of steaming, create both vivid colours and subtle shades.
When you work with paint on paper, the colours you place stay just where you put them. Then one’s mind tends to come forward to observe and analyse the result. If people like it, then the praise can inflate the ego. If people don’t like the result, the artist can feel depressed and disheartened, but when one paints on silk, with liquid dye, the colour is gently drawn from the brush into the fabric where it spreads. Touch the silk with another colour and they flow together, organically creating all kinds of colours and effects that are always beautiful. DurgaMata explains, ‘When I paint I am meditating. I play with the silk and it plays with me. I am not using my mind at all. I feel the positive energy of my meditation flowing into the very fibres of the fabric. The results are always visually beautiful. The process is always joyful and satisfying. The products are powerful as well as beautiful, as they hold the positive energy and lift your consciousness in a powerful way.
My tag-line or motto is ‘Hold it close and feel the peace.’
‘In my workshops, you have the opportunity to experiment and play like this for yourself - and you can wear the finished art. The colour and beauty – and the consciousness you were feeling as you created it, influences and lifts both wearer and observer in a dynamic and positive way. Like anything which holds positive energy and the energy of beauty and colour, it can also aid healing and wellbeing.’
About DurgaMataAs is true in all aspects of life, the important things are not new. They are timeless. But it is not enough just to know about them. What is needed is action, to embed these truths in our lives. And through her inspirational speaking Durga Mata can enable audience members to see their own lives in the light of timeless wisdom and embrace the necessary change.
By profession DurgaMata is an artist and teacher but the most important element in her life is SPIRITUAL ASPIRATION. She believes that if we really want to make a positive difference in the world, we have to begin with our own lives and look within. When we take action to raise our own consciousness, this ripples out into the wider world in a natural way and the change is enduring. This philosophy is not new. Over 2,000 years ago in China, Lao-tse expressed it eloquently.
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”
DurgaMata of London