When the Solstice is nearing, I often tune into where I am and where I want to be. Today I took a hard look at an area of my life that I haven’t been attending to. As often can be the case when one doesn’t pay attention, things can go awry and life can be thrown out of balance. I felt sad, overwhelmed and angry with myself.
I came upon an article by Jack Kornfield that really spoke to me - about setting your compass.
“Whatever your difficulties—a devastated heart, financial loss, feeling assaulted by the conflicts around you, or a seemingly hopeless illness—you can always remember that you are free in every moment to set the compass of your heart to your highest intentions. In fact, the two things that you are always free to do—despite your circumstances—are to be present and to be willing to love.”
Yes! Of course, I must make my own compass! I pulled out my pen and drew a compass and without much thought, wrote six words circling the center of my compass. I drew the arrow pointing to one of the words – the one that had the most juice in the moment – abundance! Around the compass I drew my hand – so I held my personal direction finder. I added color and designs to my drawing. Each finger became alive with vibrancy, depicting my interaction with my new tool, and aligning myself with my soul’s intention.
This afternoon of art making helped me bring to light an area that has been in the dark. It gave me confidence to make a commitment to myself - to take responsibility for my needs in a positive, active, and loving manner.
This month I taught and experienced a variety of art processes. I thought about how the different materials brought up different emotions and feelings.
For the first time I worked with mosaics and cement in guest teacher Jennifer Clark’s classes. I was surprised how placing the stones and tiles into cement felt so satisfying. It was similar to putting my toes into mud and enjoying the cool squishiness. Working this way brought out the playfulness in me, and a grounded sensation filled my body. There was a meditative quality too - in another mosaic technique of smoothing mortar and then wiping the mortar off of the mosaic pieces, the process of wetting the cement, and letting the pieces dry slowly.
Later in the week I experienced painting in different ways. In the painted mat class I facilitated, we applied acrylic onto treated fabric. We worked with the canvas flat on the table, creating a decorative and functional mat with a specific design. There was a communal feeling as if we were in a sewing circle, talking about our art and sharing stories of life.
The second painting experience was done standing up and on paper in a class in San Francisco. I created 4 fluid paintings with tempera in a couple hours. It was a more internal process, bringing up hidden emotions and deep feelings.
Lastly I made art with kids outdoors, collecting flower petals and grass to create mandalas. What a process of discovery and play - such a joyful energy!
I'm reminded that art is an endless way of exploring ourselves through play and introspection. I love offering an abundance of different creative experiences to my students at my studio and everywhere I teach.
Spending time in community and family can be fulfilling and fun. Though after being with
a lot of people or facilitating
a workshop, I focus on reconnecting with my Self.
A grounding meditation is
a helpful way to center everyday, especially after
an active event. It allows you to draw on the energy of mother earth and sky, star energy.
Here's how to do it:
I’m just not a quick person.
I admit it. I like to linger and observe. I like
to feel a place before I move through it.
This can be frustrating when the ones you travel with are on a different pace. I’ve learned to not let this reflect on the way I feel as I go my own way. Ultimately we must be comfortable or at least ok with
the path we have chosen and the way we are on it.
A literal example of this happens when traveling with my partner. Especially when it comes to going up hill. How many times have we come to a vista spot that is up the hill, or up the tower, or in this instance up Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park. I chose to enjoy the view from where I was, as he gleefully ran up the steps and out of sight, camera in hand.
In the quiet moment alone, I decided I would go up with my breath laboring, to the next level and take a look. Then I went around the next corner, enjoying the sun and the crisp air, and stopped there for a moment. I continued up at my own rhythm of ascent. Next thing I knew I had made it up the 350 steps to the top. He was surprised to see me since I had said I wasn’t coming up.
I think life can be like that. We can get all
the advice in the world, but it is our inner wisdom and curiosity that guides us as we
step into our journey. However we do it is just fine.
Judy Shintani is an artist, mentor, guide, transformative art facilitator