Monday, June 22, 2009

Sacred art of the mandala

Having just gotten back from Laguna Beach I am set to go for more creativity in my painting and in my life. It was a fascinating workshop with Paul Heussenstamm of Spending 4 days painting mandalas in the presence of his outstanding mandala masterpieces was a great experience. This was my first time creating such a large mandala, having been drawing or painting all of my mandalas on a small scale. Whether small or large, though, to create a mandala is a wonderfully meditative experience in itself - very centering. It is also healing, as Carl Jung explored so thoroughly. When creating a mandala, I find I can never avoid having it somehow reflect what is going on in me, my mind, my heart, and my life. And within that exploration is often the struggle, represented so well by my artist's struggle, as I create, and there also is the answer to the struggle, the beauty and knowingness already there. It's there reflected in both the process of creating the mandala and in the mandala image itself.

And of course it was very fun besides : ) to have the luxury of painting all day for 3 days straight, away from home, no laundry, no dishes, no nagging phone calls. I will try to have my Purple Mandala posted to my blog in a few days. I have been creating a drawn mandala - often a 20 min. drawing meditation - most mornings a week for quite awhile now. This process was more complex, of course, being a 24 inch square canvas, instead of a 9 x 9 inch drawing. But I recommend the simple drawing for a way to connect quickly with the magic meditation of the mandala: draw a circle, make a point in the middle and then draw whatever design, lines, pictures that come to mind. You can also use colored pens or pencils or crayons. It is amazingly healing. I recommend Carl Jung's beautiful book, MANDALAS, for a fascinating search into the healing aspects of creating mandalas. As for me, I hope to start creating LARGE ones. Look here to see some future image postings.

Friday, June 5, 2009

3rd Chakra energizing

I enjoy taking my energy reading and healing classes from This 3rd chakra is so relevant to my creative life as an artist.  The 3rd chakra's message to me:  Pay attention to what helps me grow and create and thrive.  I am responsible for these things.  If I allow other people and other things in life to interfere - I am still responsible! When I am veering off my path, through outside distractions, I am responsible.  So . . . what I need for me, is focus and self-discipline and prioritizing the outside world with my creative life, including the inner and outer manifestations of it. 
   I also need acceptance and flexibility with others.  I do not need to waste my time trying to control others, even having a plan for them - they, too, have a path and a passion and a purpose to follow.  Doing this allows me to be in present time with others.   More laughter! This allows me to reenergize with the bonfire of others.  Ritual is good, dancing is good.  
  I need to pay attention to the ebb and flow of giving to others around me, and balance that giving to my self - self-care, self-love.  By staying in present time, and loving my work, I attract joy and self-confidence into my being. My 3rd chakra is radiant. My creativity flows.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lovers and artists

To increase creativity AND romance in your life, try something new!  This can be trying out a new hobby, doing something in a different way, or traveling somewhere new, such as trying a new restaurant, taking a walk on a different route or at a different time, or planning a trip large or small to somewhere you haven't been before.  When we get out of our usual routine and responsibilities, particularly around home, it expands the open-minded thinking parts of the brain. This is good for renewing the creativity generating part of the mind. If you're in a relationship, keep in mind that that same part of the brain that generates creativity also generates romance!  Is there really much difference between a new lover and an artist embarking on a new creation project (whether a painting, a sculpture, a dance, a movie, a garden design . . . you name it)?

So to keep your creative life flowing, and your relationship feeling good, try new things regularly. Should you do these things alone or with your sweetie?  Well, both.  The same part of your brain chemistry is getting fired up in each, but you sometimes really need that alone time as an artist or creative; it is your time to refuel the essence of the very unique you.  But then again, we function best when our relationships are thriving too, so share novel and exciting experiences also. 

How does it work?  When you are doing rewarding or exciting activities, your brain operates with the same chemistry as when a new love relationship is just beginning.  That part of the brain stimulated in new lovers and those engaged in exciting, rewarding activities is the same, fueled by the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Interesting - which may help explain why artists are never happier than when they're creating and practicing their art.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Not returning to reality

I was returning from comforting family time at Thanksgiving, as well as an exhilarating tour of art studios in picturesque Inverness and Pt. Reyes area, enjoying the inspiration from others' creativity, and the beauty, of course, of this particular part of California. As I settled into home, welcoming as it was, the familiar chores lay before me.  I heard my inner voice say, 'Time to return to reality,' when I suddenly exclaimed out loud (to no one except myself),  "No, time to stay in the magic and NOT return to reality," which meant to me, time to stay in the moment of 'now.'

I was different, if ever so slightly, from when I had left.  My mind and emotions had taken in the ambience of a different part of the state, my eyes had seen a different sort of outdoor beauty, both mind and heart had been touched by the friendliness and creativity of the various types of artists in their open-studios. I was inspired to renew my own visual art and let myself be influenced by the art I had seen.  Yes, the housework is still there, the bills to pay are still there, and they need to be tended to, but with a different spirit - a spirit of excitement at knowing I will make the time to follow my passions, and that the person now doing the housework is slightly changed from before.  I am not returning to the 'old reality' but the passion and aliveness of an ever-changing new 'reality.'  That kind of living feels like magic.

It is so important to find time, make time, each day, to just take delight in - whatever delights us!  A good book, a creative project, playing with your pet, a morning view, dreaming up a plan for a future adventure. But it is important to be in the 'now' of it - enjoy the planning of the future adventure as a joy in itself - a time for creativity and looking forward with anticipation (but not attachment - things change). 

One way to tune into the 'now' moment is to tune into your body sensations and your emotions.  Ask yourself, "How am I feeling right now?"   "How is my body feeling right now?"  If you find it is not feeling so good, think of what it will take to feel good.  And then see if you can implement that! Often, the place to start implementing is with the thoughts first. Then comes the action and the changed feeling.

So paying attention to your emotions and your body is a really good way to start to connect with the practice of making each day a day of delight.  This is an ancient wisdom -- creating the way to delight and the way out of suffering. This wisdom is taught by the Buddhists, the Amish, the Native Americans shamans, the mystical teachings of the Hawaiian Hunas, among many other wisdom traditions.   The 'energy' of the circumstances around us are much more important than the circumstances. MSNBC's recent article, "Your Happiness Could Be Contageous" is a good example of this. The 'energy' coursing through our own body, mind and heart is what really affects things. So pay attention to your energy. It's fun and it's interesting. Try it for one hour, one day, all week. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Appreciation and miracles

This morning, walking on the road, I heard a small flock of geese intermittently making a ruckus of noise on the nearby pond.   Deciding to veer off the road, walking quietly toward the water, I hoped to spy them behind the stand of pine trees. But they must have heard my footsteps, as the geese sounds suddenly grew louder, and then I saw them - about 7 or 8 geese - lifting off, honking, flying in an unbalanced V formation, flapping off to some near destination lake or pond, I suppose. They arrive each evening and leave early in the morning. This was a small group that was late in leaving; I imagined them as the laggers, the ones wanting to savor a slow morning and not be in such a rush.

At any rate, a reminder to me of how important nature is to nourishing my spirit--my happiness and feeling of inner peace.  I am not alone, of course, as enjoying time in nature is wisely viewed as good medicine.  I do recommend it be done regularly! Whether a glimpse of a sunset, noticing the golden and auburn glow of November leaves on the trees, or watching a squirrel scramble up and down a tree, appreciation of nature can't help but bring us into a state of appreciation. And appreciation feels good, really good. As Albert Einstein said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as everything is a miracle." 

And appreciation works miracles in relationships too.  Especially in your closest relationships - you know, the one where we can slip into treating each other, after awhile, like old shoes.  But cultivating the habit of appreciation brings good feelings AND rich rewards.  I made a vow to express to my sweetie twice each day my appreciation of something about him or something he did.  Funny, once I got into doing this, I started to notice all sorts of wonderful things! I didn't want to limit myself to two, because there was so much more there to appreciate.  And, I noticed the appreciations coming back to me, too  - a nice, unexpected gift.  So, here's to cultivating the habit of appreciation -- each day.