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Mindfulness Drawing in the Sonoran Desert

Mindfulness Drawing in the Sonoran Desert

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Mindfulness is described as the capacity to be fully present to what you are experiencing and is thought of by some as a state of mind that incorporates an internal stillness. When practicing mindfulness in nature, one’s internal stillness can match the external stillness and peace found in nature. For centuries artists have experienced a sense of ‘being one with nature’ when engaged in art making in nature, a feeling that reinforces being part of something larger then themselves. 

We invite you to join workshop leader, Dr. Lee Ann Woolery for this exhilarating weekend in the Sonoran Desert where we bring these two practices together—mindfulness and drawing—and experience the creative flow of nature as you engage in your own creativity.

Why learn these practices?

Today the medical profession acknowledges that spending time in nature contributes positively to your physical and emotional well-being. Studies show that being outside in nature can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and boost your immune system. Also, scientific research shows that drawing can increase one’s ability to focus, engage in deeper attention and be more present.

Slow down. Unplug. Engage in creativity. Spend time in nature. Join Dr. Woolery as she guides you through mindfulness drawing exercises connecting you with the wisdom of the ancient beings of the desert such as the columnar cacti, the Saguaro Cactus found only in the Sonoran Desert. Tune in to all of your senses and immerse yourself in mindfulness drawing exercises in the natural world to improve your health.

In this art-based mindfulness weekend, participants will cultivate the skills to experience:

  • Increased attention and focus
  • Sensory capabilities beyond sight
  • Enhanced creativity and flow
  • Inner and outer stillness
  • Being fully present in the natural world
  • Overall sense of well-being

This workshop is for adults and open to artists, practitioners, educators, and individuals who would like to experience the Sonoran Desert in a unique way. Participants will learn art-based mindfulness methods that involve drawing, however, this is not an art workshop, and there are no requirements for art skills or art experience to participate. There is some bending and sitting involved, and moderate walking. A materials list will be forwarded once you have registered.

On Saturday evening, we will meet under the star-studded Arizona night sky and participants will have the opportunity to share their drawings and the day’s experience and receive feedback in a supportive atmosphere.

Dr. Lee Ann Woolery, Expedition Leader

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With a focus on divergent ways of knowing, Dr. Woolery pioneered Art-Based Perceptual Ecology, a unique research methodology used in collaboration with Western science methods to study the environment. Woolery is an interdisciplinary scholar and researcher, a practicing artist, and educator of over 30 years. She has taught environmentally focused workshops at Saguaro National Park, AZ; Red Butte Gardens, UT; and Bainbridge Island, WA. Woolery holds a doctorate in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England and a graduate degree in Art Therapy from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additional information on Dr. Woolery’s research, workshops and field expeditions can be found at her website, EcoArt Expeditions.

Accommodations and Cuisine

A former copper mining town, Ajo is approximately two hours from Phoenix and Tucson, and the gateway to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, one of the Southwest's most beautiful National Parks. The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center offers one-of-a-kind hospitality that engages visitors in the rich culture of the Southwest. We are located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert on the beautifully restored Curley School campus, just a short walk to the town's historic, Spanish-style plaza.

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Our peaceful property features large guest rooms, a lush courtyard, an urban farm, a commercial kitchen, and multiple classroom and workshop spaces. Throughout the weekend, we will feature nourishing interpretations of Southwestern, Mexican and Tohono O'odham Native American cuisine to enhance your Sonoran Desert experience. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available upon request.

A no-lodging option (workshop and meals only) and a lodging discount for those who want to share a room with another participant are both available; please contact Emily Siegel for details (contact info below).


The registration fee includes a full weekend of instruction in the Sonoran Desert, all meals (Friday dinner to Sunday breakfast) and 2 nights of accommodations at the Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center in Ajo, AZ. Register before December 22 and receive an early-bird registration rate of $535.00. Register after December 22 and registration is $570. The workshop is only open to 10 participants, so space is limited.

Register now to secure your place!

  1. Click here and enter the dates 2/23-2/25
  2. Scroll down and select "Mindfulness Drawing in the Sonoran Desert"
  3. When the pop-up box says "No accommodation has been selected," click "OK." [Accommodations are already included in the package price].
  4. You will be assigned a Standard or Deluxe Room with either one king or two queen beds. Room descriptions are at If you have a preference on room type, please email the Conference Center at and their staff will do their best to accommodate your preference.
  5. Fill out all the information and follow instructions to enter your credit card information. Your card will be charged when you submit your registration.

For questions regarding registration or accommodations, please contact Emily Siegel at or 520-775-2565. For questions about the workshop, contact Lee Ann Woolery at

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your registration, there is a $100 non-refundable processing fee. A written cancellation request must be received in writing by email and USPS mail in order to receive a refund.

Cancelling a workshop registration 31+ days prior to the workshop, you will be reimbursed any payments already made, minus the $100 non-refundable processing fee. Cancelling a workshop registration 30 days or less prior to the workshop, there is no refund of any payments already made.