Paulina Polkowska

Conscious retreats and journeys

Despertando en mi tierra

This retreat, led by the extraordinary therapist and holistic dancer Iurancha Foguet, has marked a turning point for me, both in my work documenting retreats and in relation to my own body. First as a participant and later as a photographer, I have experienced things I had never felt before.

The retreat centres around a deep working of being, creative energies, body memories, the Centre (the Earth) through conscious movement, the body’s own dance from its very inside, silence, shamanic elements, temazcals, Dervish whirling, etc. There is a connecting thread which makes the immersion possible and helps you connect with your essence more easily. It was four days of deep transformations that have continued in my life after the retreat.

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Antonio Jorge Larruy's retreat

Coming to this retreat was a journey to switch off and come together for the group as part of Borja Vilaseca’s Master’s in Personal Development and Leadership. It took place on a January weekend in 2018, where we were invited to take part in meditation workshops, group dynamics, walks, theatre and silent dinners during which we listened to piano music. The photos arose without pretensions, in spontaneous moments on meditative walks, brought around by the imposing landscape, the feel of its greatness and simplicity combined. These were days of Peace, Unconditional Love, Relationships and Care.

Antakarana Project Retreat

I took part in this retreat in January 2019. It was a project born out of Borja Vilaseca’s Master’s. Not only did it bring closure to the experiences of the eight-month-long inner journey of self-knowledge, but it also trained new facilitators. The organisers of the project, coaches Carlos Bisbal Sanz and Patricia Sánchez, came up with and structured the idea of these weekend conscious journeys; they also offered the attendants the opportunity to try themselves out as directors of most group dynamics.

The retreat contemplates a lot of movements, activities with the body through dance, tantra, nature and silence at the same time. The surroundings (Casa dels Llacs, close to Montseny) gives a special energy to this work of deep self-knowledge and contact with other human beings, animals and the Earth.

I was so immersed in the emotions, feelings and impressions of the group that I felt as if I had gone on the journey with them, even though my role was to tell their stories from behind the lens.

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Antakarana Project Retreat - 2nd edition

On this occasion, I took pictures of the new students on Borja Vilaseca’s Master’s. We were pleasantly surprised by their great dedication and determination to go on this journey, collaborating at every opportunity. The group’s cohesion and love were always evident. Whilst the first edition focused more on body dynamics (dance, tantra, massage, Osho active meditations, etc), in this edition the group took part in a great number of artistic activities. From emotional painting – complete with the prior meditation which allowed participants to reconnect with their creative, innocent and playful inner child – to meditation with paintbrushes, taking shape through a class of Chinese calligraphy, therapeutic photography and musical eating – conscious meals in silence, where a small mirror in front of every diner helped them become aware of how they ate, and whether they were just feeding or also nourishing themselves.

These were very intense days, with a lot of emotions, impressions and sensations condensed into a short period of time. Feeling blossomed.

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Master in Personal Development and Leadership (B. Vilaseca)

This Master’s was for me a journey of self-knowledge and self-discovery. It felt as if blindfolds had been removed, something I never would have guessed at the beginning.

The film is not a professional job nor was it commissioned – it is a spontaneous memory of our last meeting together in the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Casa Convalescència. It was the day we graduated. A few very imperfect photos, many blurred, out of focus, taken amongst the frenetic giving and receiving of diplomas. There are also photos of Borja and me spontaneously taken by Sofía, capturing a special moment in this individual and collective journey. The result is an everlasting memory and a throbbing heart after all we have lived through, all the unconditional love and complicity we have created.

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Women´s retreat de Sonia Herrero

A total of fourteen exceptional women met towards the end of October at this retreat organised by Sonia Herrero in Segart, close to Sagunto (Valencia). Each had their story: they were different ages, came from different countries, had different interests and led different lives. However, they all had the same purpose for the days spent together: sharing from Love; reconnecting with the body, with femininity and with other women; healing; opening up; and sharing experiences and stories.

They were foreigners (Dutch, English, Polish) living in Spain and Spaniards living abroad (Germany, Belgium, France) – all somehow searching for their identities outside their country of birth. Some already knew each other, others had only seen each other online and the rest had never met before. Nevertheless, they all found their way to the same place – which turned out not to be a mere coincidence.

The retreat was dedicated to connecting with the body, stopping, letting go, and refilling once enough space had been liberated. We always have a rough idea of what will go on in an event of this kind. However, I believe that reality always exceeds fiction, and it will always be better not to have any expectations and to simply be open to what may come. Easy and difficult as it may be, the lack of expectations opens an infinite range of possibilities for what may happen. 

Conscious retreats and journeys portfolio