Thursday, October 25, 2012

Art as Practice

There’s another route to centre: a more reckless and extravagant path, which is attained not by storing up that energy or concentrating life force, but through throwing it all away----or giving it away.  The unitive point is reached not through the concentration of being, but the free squandering of it….”

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus (2008).   

Our work at The Light Tree seems to be leading us away from our usual ways of knowing toward a deeper, easier and more fruitful path. It seems that the less we try to lead with our mind, the more we feel fully into the heart.

Cynthia Bourgeault calls this Kenosis, or ‘Self-Emptying Love’. By letting go of what we think we know, we enter into ‘Beginners mind’ a state considered essential to Buddhist teachings. We cannot be transformed if we think we know what it looks like, or how to get there.

Heart knowing is just that: our mind alone cannot know. Only by dropping down into our heart can be we begin to feel the depths of its love and wisdom. This awakened sense dissolves all our petty grievances and worldly need for fairness. We are content to let life unfold without our grasping, fearful need to control outcomes.

Creating art is a path of self-awareness for some of us; Melanie has been using it as a practice for developing compassion for her need to see instant results perfectly. Needless to say, nothing blocks the creative process more than the minds need to cling to its ideals of ‘how something should look’.

In a recent conversation with heart-centred Victoria artist Linny D. Vine, she was reminded to “use bigger brushes and more paint” whenever the urge to create something tight and small arises. Linny explained that the “magic happens” in a painting when the minds idea of perfection is set aside and spirit flows freely through the artist.
With this in mind, Melanie began painting this image of a tree, which was initially intended to be flowery and cartoon-like for her grand-daughter’s bedroom. She committed to sit back and be guided how the painting wanted to unfold and watch the ego-mind chatter away with all its criticisms and fear-comments. At each step she waited until it felt clear to proceed to the next stage and an image of what to do next appeared in her mind and heart.

In this process the mind is only the screen upon which the heart sends its messages to the body. For her, the heart sends  bursts of energy in ‘packets’ of fully formed ideas and simply says, its ok to make a mess. It’s ok to screw up. There are no mistakes. You are taken care of. Laugh more…..