Tools of Inquiry

Tools of Inquiry

Learn about the variety of reflective tools and techniques that are implemented in retreats at Pine Manor.


Journaling is a wonderful tool for expressing thoughts and feelings and questions through writing. Each person can use a notebook and write about what they are experiencing, what gets stirred up, what new awarenesses arise. journaling can be done with paper and pen. Certainly people can draw in their journals as well. 

Visual journaling is another form of this practice that includes images. For instance you might start with a question: What has heart and meaning for you? And in response to that question, you can take images that speak to you and paste them on a collage or in a collage/style journal. Then you can begin to write around or under the images anything that the images inspires you to say. Visual journaling is an interesting process that also taps into a lot of creative expression.

Soul Collage®

SoulCollage® workshops often have a theme as a springboard into a world of inner choice.  You simply start looking through a heap of images and pull out the ones that grab your attention.  Then you start cutting and pasting those images on a piece of mat board.  It’s fine not to give it too much thought.  Just play with the images.  Artistic merit is not the goal.  When the collage seems finished,  you have time to speak from the point of view of the images. Your intuition is at work and your own inner wisdom is strengthened through this process. 

The images have a way of connecting you with important aspects of your own essence. This unwrapping of the soul is filled with surprises and validation. The experience of seeing your own soul reflected in the cards you create is a moving experience. Witnessing the expression of others is a privilege. We don’t often have the time to get to know others or ourselves in such a deeply personal way. 

Take the people and events of your life, stir in the richness of your own interior life, sprinkle in some inspiration from above, and mix with kindness and love. And there you have it: a soul collage…

Sand Tray

ine Manor is known for its sand tray collection. Gail and other facilitators have invited many retreat participants over the years to experience the unfolding wisdom of their own psyches through the building of sand trays.  Participants choose from a variety of figures—representing a multitude of feelings and life experiences—to build their worlds. These trays are witnessed by another person, or perhaps an entire group, as the builder shares what he or she has expressed in the tray.  Sand tray is a powerful way to connect with your own inner world and process the material that emerges. 

Sand trays can be built by individuals or a “group tray” can also be created.  Sand tray facilitates an expression of inner knowing through the images that are placed in the tray and through the stories that are told by the tray. Over and over people are amazed at what emerges as they describe what they have placed in the tray.


Inquiry is the practice of asking and answering questions to assist fuller awareness. Inquiry can take many forms. At Pine Manor, we often pose a question, such as: 

What’s not working for you? Or … What IS working for you? What hurts you? What support do you need? What feeds your soul? 

These inquiries can be done in a group context or people can work in diads or triads to give more time for exploration. Inquiry can also be doing through journaling. Anyone who stays here can take a question and spend time journaling about their thoughts and feels in the response to the question. Inquiry is also shared in conversation. If people are working in diads, one person can ask a question and the second person can answer. For instance if the question is: What do you avoid? The first person asks the question and the second gives an answer, including any experience they might have in their body. (Like, “When you ask that, my stomach gets tight.”) The first person then says “thank you” and and repeats the question again. In this way the answers of the person who’s being asked the question continue to deepen and unfold.