“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.”
Sir Francis Bacon
If you have stepped onto a mat or are considering stepping onto a mat, welcome to a new remedy. Welcome to a new paradigm, one of balance, one of our truest selves, for that is one thing yoga is: the study of balance. It is a study that spirals through the ether with us, twisting as we experience our ups and downs on this path of life. And through it all it keeps bringing us home, to the truest essence of our selves. It creates the space for us to become our own observers, to quiet the mind, to slow our pace, to dedicate an hour of ourselves to discovering ourselves – how we react in postures physically and mentally may reflect how we react in life situations off the math, where we hold our stress and how to release it, to watch our thought patterns to see where our mind travels and to release those thoughts to be completely in the moment.
Yoga is a celebration of what is.
For an hour each day, let go of whatever plagues your mind, body and soul to sit with peace with yourself. To use postures to understand our bodies and minds
I was chatting with my friend the other day about how much I dislike laundry. I actually have that conversation frequently. It’s one of my least favorite activities…right up there along any other cleaning-related ideas. I’m not a fan of it so I rarely carve out space to do it and then it ends up just on my dresser and not in my dresser. At any rate, I had found myself in that situation of having laundry all around my room and just being frustrated. Obviously this is a perpetual problem and is something I’ve been aware of since…probably since I’ve been doing my own laundry. LOL, come on, don’t judge, I can’t be the only one out there that dislikes cleaning that much. So, I’m talking to her about it (amongst conversations of biocentrism and chakra energy) and she says to me, you just got to say fuck it and do it. Stop thinking about it and just do it. My response was something like, I’m not a Nike commercial, there are other things I’d much rather be doing. And she said, I know, trust me, I know. But I also know, and tell myself, that it’s helping my future self to do it now.
And it kind of blew my mind. Yep, just do it. Just get it over with so you don’t have to worry about it in the future. Such an easy solution. And I realized I was giving something so small and inconsequential too much power. So, I left work, went home and I wish I could say I just did it…just got the cleaning over with and the laundry over with, but I totally didn’t. I sat down on my couch and picked up the book on Dharma Art I was reading. And I shit you not, one of the first things I read was about how Dharma Art isn’t just about making masterpieces of art, it’s hardly about that at all actually. It’s about making your life your art, living artistically and coming from a beautiful and clear space so that everything you do is art, the way you put down your coffee mug, the way you do your laundry, the way you…<<<WTF? Really? The way I do my laundry?
If you want to become an artist and you want to have the best of everything, you can’t just have it. You have to start by paying attention to reality. You need to learn to eat properly, to cook properly, to clean your house or your room, to work with your clothes. You need to work with your basic reality. Then you go beyond that, and you begin to have something much more substantial. And beyond that, you actually begin to produce a master artistic world altogether. – Chogyam Trungpa
So I sat there. And sat there. And then a voice in my head said fuck it, and I just got up and put my laundry away. Hardly took anytime and I felt so much better afterward. But it’s not just about doing it. I mean, it can be, but then that feeling of resentment and irritation is allowed to exist and fester. That was the motivational point for me that night for sure, just fucking do it already. But I want to transform that into something beautiful. Not necessarily visually, but so it feels beautiful. And again, not just the action of doing it, but in how I feel while doing it. So while I was putting my laundry away, I tried to view it as an art project. How would I shift my perspective, how shall I smile with grace…can I turn it into something beautiful. I’m not sure I actually succeeded, but I did my best to not have a mantra of, I hate laundry, I hate cleaning, and more of a my environment is important to me and I want to nurture my environment. I want to nurture my environment as much as I want to nurture my soul, my friends, my family, my beloved. And that helped me make it in art. (As a side note, it was also interesting that I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water and upon realizing my dishwasher was clean, just quickly put the dishes away. Smile on my face, body swaying to the beat of the music…a byproduct of approaching my room as a work of art. Hopefully that’s a sign that as you bring that perspective into one activity, it will slowly expand to more and more activities.)
And how often is much of our life that way? There are certain things we do that we do beautifully, artistically. And there are the other things we do that are handled with much less grace and too much aggression (in Dharma Art, anything done with aggression is not art. Aggression is seen as a bit of the anti-art element). I brought this concept into my yoga class and it’s so easy so see the energy shift from poses we love to poses we don’t so much enjoy. The muscles in our face clench, our shoulders rise, the aggression is obvious. Just as it’s obviously serene when we dance and flow through postures we love and that feel juicy. Living artistically, approaching everything, even the most mundane of things, like laundry, is a challenge. It takes a developed discipline. It’s a challenge to come from a space of calm clarity, non-judgement and just being purely observational. I think this is especially a challenge when having unpleasant conversations with people who tend to anger quick and their words quickly become mean and harmful. In those situations staying calm isn’t always enough and I haven’t figured out how to dharmically approach those situations. But I hope to…to be able to gracefully converse, even about difficult stuff, to come from a place of satya (truth) and ahimsa (nonviolence). Dharma art is awareness, of self, of the world, of all of the gorgeous phenomena happening in our little nook of the universe.
“Awareness practice is not just sitting meditation or meditation-in-action alone. it is a unique training practice in hose to behave as an inspired human being. That is what is meant by being an artist.” -Chogyam Trungpa
So take a moment to consider yourself as an artist. I am a believer that we are co-creators of our lives. I usually think in terms of law of attraction, what you put out you get back, and all of those ideas. I truly believe that you can manifest your intentions if coming from the right space. Dharma Art encourages us to go next level and to not just be a co-creator, but BE a work of art. Live as if you are a work of art. It’s not just about putting out the outlines of life into the ether, but also about adding the color to every detail of life. I tend toward visual art, but even consider your life as a symphony, the way the notes flow and merge and caress the ears, touching your heart, making you weep tears of joy and beauty. Or a succulent meal you are cooking that makes your mouth water, your stomach growl…Find something you naturally do and love and is your art, and then approach everything, your whole life, in the same manner.
Let go of aggression, of judgement, of self-hate…You are the artist and the work of art. Your life is art. Live life artistically.
don’t really believe in chakras but i do believe in the mental clarity and neural pathway realignment that comes with meditation.
why don’t you believe in chakras?
because it’s just a philosophical construct.
they’re not real. they’re more like metaphors for our own personal dramas and how to overcome them.
it’s one of those things science is finally getting around to having the instruments to detect them
Kundalini and chakras are things I am actually really strong in feeling about.
how do you know?
(not being argumentative, just genuinely curious)
Have you ever read the studies about a group of people praying/meditating for a sick person in a hospital far away, without that person knowing, and that person’s health improves?
i saw it in a documentary…something about that.
It’s things like that that encourage me to believe in Chakras
so, in your words, what do you think chakras are?
And my own experiences
Wow. here’s an analogy that I just thought of, and I want to play with it so I’ll share it with you…
You’ve heard of the three blind men and the elephant analogy?
Incredibly abridged version: three blind guys come up on an elephant, one feels the leg says, wrinkly, hairy, strudy. Another feels the ear and says, no way, flimpsy, soft maleable, another feels the trunk and is like, no way, long, thin, hollow, muscular…you get the idea of how those three different parts, when isoloated, are completely different
but it’s still part of a bigger whole?
One of my favorite lines from the Person Letters, also in the same vein, says, “If God is truly so omnipotent as we say, how can one of our religions truly cover the entire scope of that omnipotence? Is it possible that each religion highlights an aspect of said omnipotence?”
still with me?
ok sure… “all ways lead to the Way”. I read that in a book.
probably a Tao book, lol
it was fiction but yeah, the character was based on a taoist monk
Ha! Totally fucking called it
So, track with me.
Instead of god, think of our body
we have energy, right, you do believe that we have energy
and are made up of vibrations and energy, yes?
vibrations are energy resonating
And would you agree that humans are multi-faceted individuals that has a large internal dynamic and external expressions?
tons of different moods, perspectives, thoughts, etc?
And we go through a ton of different transitions in life, yes? Different areas grow at different times, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, and the such, yes?
don’t know what that is necessarily but yes.
Never heard of Maslows Hierarchy of needs?
oh ok yes
Okay, let’s bring it back to chakras, lol
we are a being of energy
that is multi-faceted
like a 12-side die
in dungeons and dragons
so why not have different energy centers that focus on certain facets, that specialize in certain facets, instead of a free for all, that all contribute to the larger whole (bring back in the elephant) so that similar vibrations vortex with similar vibrations…bring in the rainbow here and you get the various frequencies of vibrations pulsing to produce color, those same colors relate to the chakras as well
and then bring in Maslow’s triangle, which also tracks with the chakras
why, if we are intellegent beings, would our energy not separate into sub energies to focus on different aspects.
there’s a storm going on in my brain. please hold.
i get what you’re saying. but then what function do they serve? other than a way for us to visually parse out our own energy?
okay, meditator, here’s where intention comes into play. Isn’t easier to have a focal point when meditating?
So I know that if I’m feeling flighter or scared for survival, that energy is in my first chakra, so I focus there
and one step further, which I should have said, the organs associated with the chakras are associated with their meanings too
What do you think the throat chakra energy is all about? Or the heart chakra?
location isn’t random
swallowing and beating
speaking and beating
speaking and loving?
oh yeah i guess that too
but see, to me, that is just a visual imagining.
the energy feels differently to me
it feels different when I place my hands in different places
muladhara tends to feel…sturdy in my hands if it is strong whilst the heart tends to feel, soft…
again, when in balance
like when a doctor says “ok i’m going to stick you with this needle. now imagine there’s a big bad guy on your leg. I’m going to stab him. but it might hurt your leg a little bit.” the kid imagines it and it might make him endure the shot. the same can be said for chakras. just mental images. “breathe into your legs.” well, you don’t actually breathe into your legs, you have no leg-lungs, but you visualize it and you may feel more relaxed in your legs. you imagine chakras like that, you may feel warmer near the heart, or less tense in your forehead near your forehead chakra.
And yes, visual definitely that is definitely a part of that. but
but I think the organs they relate to come into play
and no, you don’t literally have lungs in your legs, but you do have arteries and blood vessels full of oxygen flow there, and to breathe into that place is to breathe awareness and focus into that are
right, you’re focusing there. who says that’s not what chakras are? you paying attention to this particular part of your body. they’re not necessarily there, you’re just paying attention to that area.
and the brain does the rest
i should meditate on this.
are chakras constructs of the mind? or are they tangible sources of energy?
For me though, one of the things I am seeing happen more and more is the drill down and separtion of the whole into parts…why would that not apply to our own energy as well? each atom gets smaller and smaller, but still has an entire universe in each aspect. Why would we just be a single energy source?
and not one broken out into vibrations and strengths?
for me? tangible sources, for you? Constructs of the mind
and if it’s a construct of the mind, why not just, bend the spoon?
ok, to you they are maybe not tangible because they are energy centers… unlike a heart or lung which are tangible. but the energy that governs them. ok
bend the spoon! how very Neo of you
i should read up on them.
i know nothing outside of what i’m told in yoga, acupuncture, and some meditation. “breathe into your heart chakra” ..um…ok…
I remember in high school reading the Wu Li Masters and being baffled by it. My young mind couldn’t quite grasp and retain the concepts that were being suggested. As I grow older and my beloved is one of a linear mindset and always reveling in the beauty of this vast universe, I find myself being drawn into Quantum Mechanics. I’m still barely scratching the surface, but one of the thoughts that has emerged revolves around the chakra systems (obviously).
Wouldn’t quantum mechanics provide the foundation for establishing the truth of the chakra system? If QM finds that atoms are vortices of energy, constantly spinning and vibrating, each with a unique energy signature, it could be suggested that the chakras are actually key identifiers in our truest self, that we are that holistic entanglement of immaterial energy waves and centers that radiate from the chakra centers. The quarks and photons that make up an atom emit strange energies…perhaps energies of the chakra they are aligned with. Yoga already suggests that we are light and energy and this notion further supports that idea. Just like the idea of a multiverse, bringing that internally (as many around me discuss), we’re just tons and tons of vortex’s working symbiotically in concert with each other and perhaps, creating bigger vortex’s as their vibrations mix and mingle. Each chakra is aligned with a color and a sound associated with the frequency of the waves that are produced from the chakra vortex. Therefore we’d all be a rainbow of light and a symphony of sounds that are too delicate perhaps for us to observe with the naked eye.
None of that really helps me to explain the disconnect between observable physical reality and the suggested truest reality of vibrational existence. This of course warrants more exploration on my part as I’m sure there are tons of scientists out there working through this exact thought if it hasn’t been established already. I realized after a comment from my beloved the other day that I still don’t consider the earth to be rotating but the sun to be revolving. I realize intellectually that that’s what is happening, but on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment existence, I don’t think about it. I live in the world I see and perceive. I know I need to take a step into the depths of exploration to really cement the bigger and more vast concepts that have toyed with me sine the Wu Li Masters. To truly dive into the Kundalini I need to take a step out of the known physical reality and start to develop an understanding of the other suggestion notions. Get my head out of the books and into the stars in some ways. These ideas are so beautiful and I am missing out on them as I choose to walk the banks of the ocean of being. As Tool, Alex Grey and the such enter and broaden my experiential world, it is my responsibility, I owe it to myself, to wrap my mind around them as well. To think, to ask, to consider…the neocortex area of our brains allows us to explore the divine, the self as the divine and to be fully present in existence.
At any rate, I am sure I can synapse a few thoughts and begin to map out in my minds eye this Indra’s Net of being.
If anyone has any suggested readings, I would love to hear about them.
Stepping in front of a class I open myself up to the universe, allowing the energy to flow through me, for words to delicately escape my lips. They aren’t premeditated. Like asana, they flow through me and into the classroom. Sometimes they resonate with you, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they take you to places you need to journey to, allowing you to deepen into your self, slipping into the primordial being you are, the eternal soul self. Sometimes I’m garrulous, sometimes I let you sit with the voice of your vitality.
Do you know that we have bad days too?
I watch people flow, observing their chakras and recognizing where energy is blocked, where you are holding your tension and stress. I bring the connective energy into my hands and allow it to caress you, to soften you, to release you from what’s holding you back. I try to encourage you to dive to your depths, find your edge, physically, mentally, energetically. To be aware of where you are and what you are battling or enjoying at that moment.
Do you know that we cry too?
As I guide, I offer concepts, ideas, perspectives for you to ponder. An alternative reality in this multiverse we reside in. I offer juicy ways to nurture your self, and the idea that you can heal your wounds and step into the effulgent of the sacred. I encourage you to transform the bilious into the precious, or at least to breathe through it and watch what surfaces.
Do you know we aren’t perfect?
So many things happen in the yoga studio. The divine is touched, energy becomes palpable, we dance with existence. The gorgeous interactions and manifestations of the yoga practice are intense and at times emotional. The class is about you, not me. I step out of my self so I can be a conduit. I leave my issues, my drama, my shit out of the studio so we can focus on your issues, your drama and your shit. But please don’t forget that I am human, that I have issues, and I have bad days/weeks. I try to not bring that into the yoga studio, and often times I try not to bring it up at all. Maybe it’s an unfounded fear but I think you will think less of me because I am human. If I’m not always this enlightened individual and show my humanness I think what happens in the yoga studio will lessen. That you won’t want me to be your guide. So I try to hide it, try to silently deal with my humanness on my own. But I am human. And I make mistakes, and I get angry, dramatic and occasionally a bit bitchy. I get hurt quite easily. And sometimes I need a night with my beloved to just cry. I don’t want to show you any of this, but know that it is there. After all, I was born human. And I have human scars. And I cry human tears. And I have human emotions. Thought I would share that with you, in case you didn’t already know.
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
The wonder of awareness. Everything we do is wonderful. Or at least at some time it was celebrated. Watching my nephews grow up, I realize that we celebrate each moment of growth. The milestones we reach are celebrated and those around us look upon us with smiles as we realize we have achieved the next step. Even the things that now to us seem banal but were such milestones growing up. Crawling, sitting up, walking, talking, gripping, clapping, and as we get older going to school, writing print, learning cursive, getting A’s…It’s crazy how once even getting A’s, even excelling in the classroom, becomes a regular thing. We stop appreciating and celebrating like we did before it was a standard. Our standards are being re-established with each achievement, with each moment as we journey through our experiences, perceiving the phenomenon around us and loving the experiences our friends engage us in. We celebrate the next big thing, the promotion, the finished painting, the newest family member.
Yoga is the same way. As we progress we may forget the wonder we brought with us that first time on our mat. How excited and curious were we as we first started flowing through the postures, balancing on one leg? The first time we lifted our legs in bakasana or reached for our heels in ustrasana. There are some days where it’s all about finding our edge, being curious and playful in the postures, advancing them and exploring the limits of our selves. Let’s make today about the wonder. The wonder you bring to life. Being in awe that you are here, the awe in each posture/moment, the awe of your energy and your mind/body connection.
I’m a bit of a work-a-holic. Not in the “I’m obsessed with my job and do it all the time” kind of work-a-holic. Mainly the kind that suddenly looks around and realizes she is an art director has more responsibilities at work and working more hours, teaches four yoga classes a week, has been kissed by the muse and craves the time to paint and draw, suddenly has a social life from out of nowhere and has some side projects that she’s working on. I even wrote a post about loving my fast-paced life a few weeks ago. Things kept coming up and I was moving along, moving, progressing, learning, breathing in a flurry of new experiences, diving into the unknown of that which I had not yet experienced. But as I was dancing along, I started to twirl, twirl and twirl, letting the blur of movement engulf me and when I tried to focus on one thing, I stumbled. The harder I tried to focus and get my balance, the more I fell. Ungraceful, a little crazy and loving it less as I started to tumble into the hole. That may be hyperbole. But I was stressed and not handling life the way I wanted to. <shrug> Shit Happens.
And then I went to Costa Rica for a yoga retreat.
And there, Shift Happened.
I was there in my element because I love and adore yoga and I was at a yoga retreat. And I was out of my element b/c I was literally out of my environmental element, and I was unplugged.
An entire week without a computer…without my email…without work…without an iPod…without my Nook (I turned pages, I didn’t tap them)…without my car…without Facebook….without Pinterest…without IM…without my phone…without my cats…without my bed…without my closet…without my stilettos…without my craziness…without my ‘my…’.
And in return for giving all of those up, I was able to watch the eagles soar. The way they dived, turned, breathed across their collarbones opening their hearts to ascend, and then, leading with their gaze dive to descend. I woke up in the mornings with the sun (and a rooster and his cockafuckingdoodle do) and walked down to the beach. I wandered. Ate clean, healthy food. Gazed upon the Lightening Bugs as they danced in the trees. I read and journaled. I went deeper inside and considered the essential over the superfluous. I looked. I listened. I listened to sounds of the ocean and the waves crashing and flowing on the beach. I laughed and had actual face-to-face conversations with friends. I hugged often. I paddle boarded in the middle of the ocean during a storm, drenched from the waves, the rain pattering my face and body, the thunder rumbling in my ears and the sun setting in this fiery red ball and me giggling with joy. I was able to do yoga twice a day, stretching my body, detoxing my muscles, discovering my strength. I meditated often…quieting my mind…observing without judgement, without thought. Experiencing the rawness of no-mind experiences. I walked around in flats and long dresses.
A shift happened. I let all the stress slip slowly down my shoulders and down my back with every Tadasana, down my hips and legs in every Uttanasana, and drip off my feet with every step I took. And I breathed in my connection to the universe with every Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and rooted deep into the earth with every Adho Mukha Svanasana. I felt and experienced harmony with nature.
It was bliss.
And for a week.
And at the end of the week, people didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to go back home. And totally me too! I mean, shit, it was pretty fucking awesome out there. It was Costa Rica. But ultimately, I was content to go home. I love my life. I just wasn’t loving the stress aspect. And I can change that. I can take the things I adored and felt amazing in while in Costa Rica, those things that helped me to shift and to be open to experiencing shift. I can make small micro-movements in my life and meld or wrap or fuse those shift-causing experiences into my daily, moment-to-moment experience.
There are so many things I came back with but my initial focus will be on enjoying and simplifying my life. Loving the people I surround myself with and enjoying how I live. Cutting back on the clutter that slows me down and creating space. Being aware of what I am eating/drinking and just making healthy decisions. I’ve been talking about meditating for a while now and finally just following through with that and sitting down for at little bit each day and quieting my mind. And trying things. Trying different yoga classes that lend themselves to my practice so I can have a practice. Trying anything (within reason, I’m not going to eat weird things and go skydiving or anything nuts like that) at least once. Even if I don’t like it, I’ve still experienced it.
Shit happens. And then allow Shift to Happen.
____________________________ Enjoy and Simplify
Enjoy life. This looks different for everyone. Choose your version. Choose to do things that make you happy, that make you smile, that nurture you and things that you need to experience. Spend time with family and friends, invest time in your life plans. Find time to love being you. Bring awareness into your actions and intentions, and actually experience them. What’s the favorite part of your day?
Simplify life. Again, this changes from individual to individual. Maybe it’s simplifying your apartment. De-cluttering, organizing…what ever suits you. Maybe learning to say no to invitations that don’t suit you and simplifying your calendar. Maybe it’s simplifying your thoughts. Quieting the voices and their chatter. Or following one line of thinking at a time (AKA meditation, which is also on the list). How can you simplify your life?
Eat clean, for the most part. Maybe try cooking more, playing with different spices and how they complement the dish and trying new combinations. Perhaps buy fresh produce and limit the microwave. Creating a balance of foods and really just bringing awareness to what you bring into your body. Learning what you need and listening to your body. Learning what foods do what so you know their benefits and why you are eating them.
It’s difficult to start a practice for many reasons but in part because you don’t know just how fabulous it is to have a meditation practice until you’ve experienced one. It’s difficult to make it a priority without first feeling and experiencing the effects of meditation. Try to quiet the mind. A seated meditation practice is obviously recommended, but it could be easier to start in a different spot. Focus on one task at a time. Quiet the voices that are leading your mind astray to to do lists, people to text, distractions that are dividing your focus. This kind of focus, in its own way, is meditation. You can also focus on your breath whenever you need to take a moment from life. So many different ways to incorporate meditation that don’t involve sitting on a cushion “Om-ing” Discover what, if anything, works for you.
I love yoga. So I say try it, experience it, find a class and just try it. Try a few different types if you have time. If you don’t enjoy it, if you simply aren’t interested in it, then don’t do it. It’s okay if it’s not for you. It’s okay if any of this stuff I am offering up for consideration doesn’t work for you. I’m speaking from my experience.What have you tried? What works for you? You don’t know until you try right? So try everything, even just once, so you know whether you like it or not. Even if you don’t like something, at least you’ve experienced it.
We read all the time about how a fast-paced life is bad for us. How we need to be more mindful and move slowly through life. That if we feel stressed out there something wrong with our life and the decisions we have made.
But I’m calling bullshit on that.
I like my fast-paced life. I choose to live a fast-paced life every single day. I get stressed out. I feel like there’s not enough time in the day. I am running from one thing to another. And I love it. And yeah I talk shit and complain. I’m enjoying a human element of knowing what stress is, knowing that I have the power to change it, but knowing that I enjoy the little adrenaline rush I get from it. And ironically, knowing that I like this like stress and invite the stress, kind of stresses me out a little less.
Don’t get me wrong, things seem to be a little extra stressful right now, and a bit extra busy at work, but my routine is the same. I love waking up in the morning when I do. I love when I wake up and do the stair stepper while checking my email. I enjoy being an art director and all the responsibilities and stresses and things that come with that job. I love that I spend all day rushing to meet deadlines and working the nonprofit life because the results of my stress maybe, just maybe, are helping to save a life somewhere. And then I love rushing to shut down my computer and drive to the yoga studio where people trust me to guide their yoga practice.
I knowingly choose this.
Sometimes it’s that stress that makes me feel alive. Makes me feel connected. Helps me reach my goals and be more productive with my life. I do more and accomplish more when I have the most to do. And I’m not talking spreadsheets or data analysis…I paint more, I read more, I meditate more, I do more yoga. These things become crucial in a fast-paced life.
I run around all day. Having meetings, designing projects, ADDing on Pinterest, guiding yoga and my heart races wondering if I will survive. I IM my friend and tweak out b/c I have so many things to do on my to do list. Sometimes I cry to let that frustration and fear out. My head is a whirlwind of voices and demands.
But I love it.
I feel that pulsing energy rush through me as I teach my vinyasa flow, carefully paying attention to each student, striving to help them have the best experience possible. Their smiles and their sighs let me know that my stress is serviceable.
And when I finally walk through my door at night, I let out a deep sigh. All of that stress from the day is dropped at my doorstep, to be picked up on my way out. But in my home, I slow down, feeling and embodying the balance, the yin to my day’s yang. I get into my own element, into my own soul, and stretch my body free of the stress, artistically express what my soul still has to say, and I quiet into myself. Here, art is for me. Here, the yoga is for me. Here, I am for me.
But it’s knowing how much I do during the day, all of the stress and rushing around, that helps me truly appreciate when I slow down and take time for me.
These words brushed across my ear as I was stretching my body into a forward fold.
I had just spent the last couple of hours painting. I was trying to stand and paint. I sit all day so I try to paint standing now. Counterbalance my day with my night.
I was changing my painting a bit, getting freer with it. I started this painting a while ago and I reached a point and simply stopped. It’s a habit I have. To start something, reach a point, stop, and walk away from it. I sometimes think I have a fear of completion. But I’ve been working on that idea. Finishing things. Do you have that problem? I love to start things, it’s all exciting and fresh and new and then I become critical and stop. I’ve really been trying to not do that with art.Not being afraid of what the outcome will be but simply trying it. What’s the worst that could happen? I’m releasing the fear…fear of, well, probably tons of shit. But it’s better to just try it and actually do the art, than have a ton of blank or canvases half-finished sitting around me. If I am going to buy the canvases, I need to fucking paint on them.
I’ve been working on discovering a safe place to paint from. I have so many critics in my head that I have had to learn to shut them up so I can just get shit done. I’ve started to do that with meditation on the breath. And more than that, awareness of the breath and meditation on my art. I am aware of my breath, that I am breathing, where I am sending that breath (when I paint it’s usually to my hand to help me make smoother strokes). It’s been creating more of a tranquil space. My mind kind of leaves for a while…takes a break from the day life, and I just flow. I just create. I just, paint. Most of the time it’s not any good, lol. But I’m less scared about that and more excited about the release I am experience and about the space I can visit for a while to relax.
So I was in this space when I had taken a moment to consider my painting. The voices suddenly decided to make an appearance again. “Name it Creative Energy” came into my mind. I looked at the painting, heard the name and liked it…saw how I could grow it and how that idea gave my painting life. Gave it a direction. Before I had just been painting, but now…now I knew where I had been painting from and what I was painting. I became excited about visualizing what that name meant and what I wanted to do with the painting now. “Make that area pulse more, add life here, why is this so dull, make it stand out…”And the voices started to grow, I was losing my breath. I was leaving the meditation state.
I looked at my bookshelf, picked up a book, and opened up a page. I have no idea why. I haven’t looked at this book in ten years, but I opened it and read:
“Listening carefully to the tone, where or how does it move and in which direction? When you discover the answer, the tone itself will reveal many directions. do not try to control it yourself!” – Miyajima Sensei
I instantly focused on my breath, quieted my mind, went back to my easel and began painting again. I trusted in my connection to the universe and didn’t try to control my brush. I had been given a name for the painting, and I breathed that into my body and embraced that concept, and I breathed it out through my brush onto the canvas.
I continued painting for a while and came to a natural stopping point. And it was here that I was in that forward fold. I was doing some gentle yoga moves to release my muscles and my body. I was slowly releasing the intensity of painting and equally as slowly was allowing the mind back in.
And I started thinking…I wonder if people will like this new direction…I wonder what everyone is doing…I wonder if I have a text message…I wonder if so-and-so is angry at me because I needed to stay home and do art…I wonder if it’s stupid that I chose to stay home and do art instead of going out…I should have just gone out…I’m not going to have any friends…well, I do have so-and-so and so-and-so…I’m not completely alone…but I won’t have those friends…they should be okay I’m in this space…You can imagine this went on for a few more thoughts and it ultimately it ended with an, “as soon as I’m…” statement. I have this vision of who I should be and what my life should look like. And most of my thoughts end there. I think it’s one reason I don’t finish paintings…I have an idea of something, but I’m scared it won’t turn out. And so my thoughts turned to, As soon as I’m…
A new voice piqued in and shrugged, and said, “This IS your life. It already started. Don’t miss out on what’s happening now for what you are hoping for in the future. The future will come regardless, enjoy now so you can enjoy the future. Live now.”
I’m making the choices and the decisions right now that are not only making me happy, feeling healthy and right, but are also growing me for the future I think the universe has planned. But to get there, I have to live now.
This IS your life. It already started. Don’t miss out on today waiting for tomorrow.
Breath in. Breath out. I’m watching the breath, being the breath, embracing the breath.
Breath leads my focus. It’s where the meditation begins. Going deeper into the breath narrows my focus. Distractions drop away as I consider the breath, the aspects and what it is saying. I look at my canvas, I pick up the brush – all with the rise and fall of my breath. The lines begin.
Line leading line following line.
I deepen the gaze, narrow my focus. I unfurl my brow and breathe in the lines. I lengthen my breaths, matching exhale to inhale. It invigorates. I think to myself, “I think I am actually present right now. How awesome. I should tell —- . I wonder how I did it.” I glance at the lines, they have taken on an interesting flow as I lost my breath and entered into my mind. I had started analyzing. I brought myself back to my breath. I sat in stillness. Reconnecting to the breath, allowing energy to flow through me. I stopped analyzing the lines and just became the lines. The lines were expressing what I needed to express, what I needed to channel. I don’t need to analyze it yet, right now I just need to do it, to breath it, to create that focus. The lines, my focus, the union of body and breath. I took a breath and picked up my paintbrush.
I became entranced with the movement of the lines, the quality of the lines, how the brush was setting paint down and how if I adjusted my hands mid-flow it altered the line. What it looked like was unimportant, the breath and energy I was channeling was creating a focus I need. The chatter in my head is overwhelming, frustrating, distracting and inhibiting. The focus that connecting my breath to painting lines is a relief. It focuses my mind so I can find a bit of peace and quiet. The to do lists on 20 different projects drip away, the awkward conversation I had that afternoon and analyzing people’s reactions seemed ridiculous to waste my time on. What my schedule looked like seemed manageable and I started to trust in myself and in the universe. People may actually like me…and quieting my mind and using the breath and my art to release some ideas and thoughts no longer serving me. My breath drank in creative energy as the line danced upon the canvas. And my breath distinguished the destructive energy I was holding on to.
I hung the painting back on the wall and just kind of stared at it. My mind still quieted from the artistic mediation I just experienced for two hours (time flew). I just looked at it for a while and then cocked a hip and leaned to the left. In doing so I realized the interplay between the lights and the darks. The lines all depend on how you look at them from a specific angle. Which is exactly what my thoughts try to do…consider all of the perspectives. Glancing at it now, it pulses with energy…seems like all of the thoughts I usually kept in my head were expressed in the lines instead. I channeled them onto the canvas so my mind could quiet and enter a focused, artistic meditation. For those two hours my mind took a breather and my destructive energy was creatively channeled from my chest, down my arm, into my fingers and along the lines of my brush and into the focused lines on the canvas.
And then I went out to my balcony to enjoy the fresh air and to release and restore in my hammock.