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.