Personal practice is one of those things that I try to impress upon my students – to just develop some kind of practice, whether it is mindfulness meditation or journeying or guided meditations. It is necessary in a variety of life’s passages to have the focus needed to accomplish great work – whether the work is of a spiritual nature, an artistic nature, or just about anything that needs doing. As a teacher, I often find myself guilty of falling down on this end of my spiritual practice, just as any other human being trying to navigate this world would be. The demands of work, partners, many interests can pull one away from that which needs doing. As I mentioned in my last entry, intent is everything. And after intent, we must look inside ourselves for the will to accomplish our intent.
My artwork, whether that is expressed through painting or sculpture, and even sometimes through poetry, is a large part of my personal practice. Painting, drawing, and sculpting have always been very meditative for me, and are often essential to my personal growth. Through making art, I express and release more than just my own personal anxieties, cares, and therapeutic needs. I have often felt that my artwork is my portal into worlds not reachable by mundane means. I am certain most other artists would tell you the same. The difficulty for me, as someone who has a rather demanding job, is when that job pulls me away from being able to create art. What then?
These past few weeks I have been on Winterim Break from my university. I had planned to do loads of painting in this time. However, I had also scheduled myself to teach an online course in Egyptian Art. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? A class for which I do not have to travel to a classroom each day should allow for lots of spare time to create. Sadly, this time that was not the case. I found myself re-vamping my online presentations for the students and spending so much time working that I did virtually no painting at all. No painting at all makes for a very sad Helena and also a Helena who feels as though she is back in fourth grade, sitting in the confessional at Catholic church, confessing her failings.
I realize I have mentioned my Catholic background now twice for two entries: two for two. So yes, therapy often becomes part of my personal practice as well. And often that therapy is a reminder that I am not a failed person, that I have great wells of creativity in me, and that it is a matter of time management and attentiveness that feed those wells, not feeling like a failure.
Getting back to what personal practice means to me and how I plan to enact it, I actually see blogging and writing as bringing me back to a place of being open to those things I need to “hear” and “see” in order to be open to create. Part of a personal practice is that it is personal, after all. Making room in my life to write once again is a way to dip into the well of creativity and expand my brain to allow even more creativity and inspiration to enter. I realize that these moments I take in having a quiet space in which to work, ruminate, and meditate are critical to both my spiritual and creative well-being. It is the quiet space in which it is just me and the words, or the images, that allows me to breathe again and just be open to what may come.