Daydreams–I think they make the world go ’round, or at least the daydreamer seems to notice the world in a way that being “on task” can block–we are so on task, we forget to sense, to truly see and feel. Stream drawing is one way to slip into your zone of creative, intuitive and empathic sensing. It’s an expressive, active way of “being still” rather than passively waiting for the beingness or stillness to arrive. Daydreams come and go, ideas, thoughts and feelings surface, all while you’re drawing as long as you draw with complete freedom and playfulness. Looking out the window and seeing the shapes and lines in the trees, sensing the mood in the light are also transportive and I think some of the best things happen when we daydream. It is a form of learning, one we don’t nurture in each other very much because we are conditioned to be more “useful”. At least if you’re daydreaming while drawing, you’ll be doing something. Not only the practice of drawing but the impact a simple act can have on our world strikes us all as very evident after the recent massacre of artists in Paris. Stream drawing does not require you, however, to do or be anything but just yourself, in that inner-realm place where the essence of the real you thrives. There are powerfully positive effects stream drawing can have on us. Draw for your sense of peace and creative sprightliness, and know that it is indeed a very, very powerful practice to do so, often in ways that will heal us and delightfully surprise us.
This is an intuitive stream drawing I have just started, so there are barely any notes on it yet. This is one of 4 views, a life experience view.
I am reflecting on this past year, as many of you are also, I’m sure. What was good about? What was hard about it? What were the highs and lows? How can I use everything that happened this past year (or at least those experiences which stand out for me) to help me grow stronger, wiser, more empowered and more forgiving and loving?
I did an intuitive stream drawing to see what would come up for me, and you can create one, too. Below is an example of an intuitive stream drawing I am in the process of seeing into, with a few notes on insights I got that surprised me and gave me new ways to look at some things. I want to be able to move forward into 2015 without anything holding me back, and being conscious of that which may, to my best ability, is essential for me now. The stream drawing’s life experience views (from left to right) showed that it is time to “wipe away tears of the past”–to consciously stop carrying whatever I may not have been aware of even carrying in the way of sadness (there will be a few things I will name to myself). A new doorway of opportunity ahead (an arch) also looks like the head of a puppy–for me dog signifies loyalty, companionship, protection, so I ask myself, “what/who am I loyal to and who/what deserves my loyalty?” amongst other questions, as I move forward into some new experiences. A heart stretching in to a new shape at the center is partially submerged, so becoming more conscious of flexibility in relationships is very, very important. There are specifics that relate to this that I am aware of and which are meaningful to me. I have yet to look at the two chakra chart views, that will be a lot of fun!
These are just some insights, there is no limit to the ways in which these symbols or shapes and lines can be interpreted, like dreams, they are multi-dimensional. I find it a fascinating way to explore self knowledge as a path to empathy and compassion toward others. If you create your own intuitive stream drawing for 2015, what might come up for you?!
To get a copy of the MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing book, click here.
I had a synchronistic event this morning, posting this detail from a painted stream drawing, I saw a rabbit there with a carrot (rabbit symbolizing for me fears and getting over fears, as well as a sense of prolific fertility) and one of the first messages I received in my email as I was posting was a message from a much beloved friend with a work of art depicting a rabbit with a crown of carrot, parsnip and turnip. I was very delighted also to look out my studio window to see a RABBIT hopping up the hill! I love life when things connect like this!
Summer time is good for dreaming and streaming. Start keeping a dream journal if you have not, or pick up the habit of journaling if you’ve stopped (I tend to go in and out of cycles where I record every morning and then stop for some reason, getting back to it as soon as I can). The value in stream drawing during the day, is it 1.) Gets you into a stream of consciousness flow so that you can tap into the knowings you have but may not be aware of, and 2.) Gets you into a playful place where dreams, aspirations and a sense of joy can be cultivated. As sculptor Maria Artemis says, it can shift you into the “realm of the possible”. Go there! Just take a few moments to close your eyes and draw with the non-dominant hand and then gaze it the drawing to see what it may hold for you in terms of meaning, associations, etc. For more info on how to do this, get a copy of MAKING MARKS and let me know what you discover! http://www.illuminara.com/books/making-marks-discover-the-art-of-intuitive-drawing/
At my recent book event for MAKING MARKS at Barnes and Noble, participants practiced intuitive stream drawing
Stream drawing is a great way to relax and create all at once, to be passive yet active, to receive yet give. Drawing, mark making, is so naturally compelling for humans, it feels good. The techniques in MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing help get to that place we used to go to with complete joy. As children we didn’t have to be reminded to experiment and express, we just did it. Gradually, our mark making became centered on created letters, numbers, words and the occasional work of art for an assignment. We need to make marks freely and reclaim that natural, exciting form of expression that we literally have just at our fingertips.
Have you noticed that when you get a great idea, there is this enthralling feeling of, “How did I get that idea?” We often even have such a great idea, that we say, “It’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of a long time ago?” or something similar.
I have found that the same feeling of elation comes to me when I open myself up to my intuitive impressions. There is a sense of wonder, even in the moment of feeling a “gut feeling” that something isn’t right, or having a hunch to try something one way or another. Usually when I do not follow those gut feelings or hunches, I have some regret. I have read that the vagus vein in the stomach has a way of sending signals to the brain, so often we do have literally a gut feeling that has something figured out before our rational and logical mind has it figured out. With intuitive sensing, as well as with creative sensing, things arrive in the way of knowings or ideas without our truly being able to necessarily establish how or why we got the information. We can retrace all the steps leading up to the moment an idea came, but we still cannot totally explain how it came to be.
With this book, MAKING MARKS, I have put together drawing freely, in a stream of consciousness way, something I call “intuitive stream drawing” or simply “stream drawing” along with intuitive sensing–exploring the knowings that we get seemingly out of the blue. We can use stream drawing to open up to creative inspiration, to intuitive, empathic sensing, and we can make great shifts in our lives while experiencing the joy of imagination and the feeling that all good things are possible!
This week at Westport Barnes and Noble I am having a book event 7-8 pm and I hope you’ll join me for some drawing (with eyes closed–totally freely!) and discussion.
Stream drawing after a compelling dream has some interesting benefits. I noticed the first time I tried it (read about it MAKING MARKS in the Streaming and Dreaming chapter) I did the drawing thinking about the dream, and discovered upon gazing afterward, that the drawing highlighted a particular incident that was the catalyst for changes in my life. Both the dream and the stream drawing with the dream in mind showed me elements of this life change, but from very different angles. This fascinated me as I had not connected things that way and the stream drawing helped me to more fully understand.
Last night I dreamed we were in a kind of wilderness land, and met people I’d consider guides (kind, patient, thoughtful, good advisors). The dream won’t leave me, it lingers like a movie continually playing, so I decided to create a stream drawing to see if I can learn more from or about the dream. Here it is, with my interpretations:
Detail from a stream drawing based on a dream/May 2014
I gazed at this drawing and was struck by what the word “wilderness” means to me in terms of this dream. A wilderness can be emotional or physical. In the dream it was both at once, kind of. I thought of lack of love and sense of goodness or ease as a good definition of wilderness as it relates to the dream and the stream drawing about the dream. I realize that the feelings I had in the dream were a kind of sadness I have or a hint of disappointment. This derives from parenting sons who are more young men than children now, and poignant memories of when they were still vulnerable babies and young children linger in my heart–you can’t get those years back. The “Little Red Riding Hood” image, facing the past (left) and a large bird (spiritual messenger) facing future (right) are significant to me. The fact that our earth walk seems to be perfectly captured by the story of Little Red. She is asked to step into the wilderness (forest with all it’s unknowns) and trust that she’ll get to her grandmother’s house safely. In the story, the wolf almost got her, but didn’t. She trusted herself and questioned the wolf. This Little Red here faces the bird/spiritual messenger, who has a body shaped like one big heart. Love is the key–and love is the simple message. Further to the right a child clings to a heart with a tear (love, sadness) and the number 2 there for me symbolizes being a daughter–just as I am a parent who wishes I could do it all over again, and perfectly this time, I am also a child never wanting to lose my own parents. The wilderness dream and the stream drawing helped me see that we are caught on a journey where time takes us through stages of life and grief, but here we are. The only way through it seems to be to focus on love, on being a loving person.
I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers around the time my family moved to Georgia. When I found out that she attended my new high school, Columbus High School (a beautiful brick 1890’s building, set on a hill) and had been born and raised in Columbus, I was thrilled. I’d walk the halls of the old school, with it’s solid wooden floors, thinking of how she had also walked on the very same wood, gazed out the very same windows watching the trees shimmer in the sun. But one thing kept annoying me. In Heart is a Lonely Hunter, there are Greek characters, and a Greek diner and I never saw anything of that sort in Columbus–nothing Greek anywhere! It bothered me any time I thought of Carson McCullers since high school days. I figured she added the Greek diner part into the novel once she had relocated in her early twenties, to New York City where there are plenty of Greek diners. Then something very interesting happened. Last year, before traveling to see my parents in a retirement community in Columbus, I thought again about the Greek characters in McCuller’s novel and it seemed in-authentic since Columbus is not a magnate for Greek immigrants as far as I know, and never was. I carried on the conversation in my head about how it didn’t fit in, and why did she write something that wasn’t quite truly true to Columbus as a setting for the novel?
When I arrived at my parent’s retirement community, everyone was in the dining hall. It was lunch time. I was seated with my parents beside a quiet, sweet-faced gentleman with a kindly twinkle in his eyes. It was pleasant enough chatting about nothing in particular with retired strangers and I thought how easy it is in our society to dismiss elderly people. Looking out at all the wheelchairs and gray hair, I thought to myself that I could sit silently, disinterested, but that seemed wrong. So I decided to ask the twinkle-eyed man questions. I asked him where he was from (Alabama was his answer). I asked about his wife, wondering, was she also from Alabama. “My wife was Greek,” he said. I was stunned, but even more so when he said, “Her Greek immigrant father ran the best restaurant in Columbus!” With absolute delight and a serious chill down my neck, with the compelling feeling of the presence of Carson McCullers hovering over us, chuckling, I asked plenty more questions! Yes, the Greek restaurant was in downtown Columbus, and yes his wife’s family knew Carson McCullers, her father’s jewelry shop was nearby, and she grew up coming into the Greek restaurant. Well, blow me down. I was utterly floating on air the rest of the day. I smile now, thinking of McCullers dwelling in the Other Side, straightening out these things for us down here.
Even more recently, reveling in this new found information, telling my sister and brother-in-law about it, we took a drive by the McCullers home, now set up as a museum, in Columbus. As we pulled up to look at the house, we noticed the front door was wide open. And we met a care-taker of the museum who just happened to stop by to check on something, and of course she invited us in. I felt like Carson herself opened that door for me!
The unfinished galley of my new book due out in May, MAKING MARKS
Whenever I read Near Death Experiences, I think of what a powerful teacher a “life review” is. Life reviews are common in many of NDEs. This is when you see your entire life as a movie, either every scene or very important ones, and you not only see yourself interacting with others, you feel everything the other people around you were feeling. People who experience this say that they re-emerge (after becoming conscious again) with so much more compassion and concern for others and it helps them love life more. Another thing I often read is that such NDE experiences make people want to live life to the fullest, appreciating each moment.
This new book of mine coming out in May is an expression of so much of what I love about life because the book’s truest message is about empathy for others and living life to the fullest —creative self-expression combined with empathy, for me, is the ultimate way to LOVE each moment of every day! We make our marks, we live and interact, and if we can create while we support and love others, what could be better? (I want to have a life-review, when I leave the earth, that I could feel good about, and all that matters is loving others and creating and generating good things, even if learning to be truly loving is not easy, I want to be better as each day goes by.)
My wish for the New Year is to develop more empathy and be more creative, knowing that the creative expression of others is a great gift to me and to celebrate that with every breath I take.
I am studying Torah and taking Hebrew and LOVE IT. I recently had an exchange with the very brilliant Jewish scholar and author of several books, including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, Amy-Jill Levine. Her work helps bridge a gap of misunderstanding between two traditions that spring from the same source, Judaism and Christianity. Her concentration and love of this study has improved how we see and read the New Testament and I am so grateful that she dedicated herself to it for everyone’s benefit. I was recently called a “Bridge Person” myself by a rabbi and I think I am that, actually having had a meditation recently where I am on a bridge that connects the two religions. When I asked Ms. Levine what she liked most in the NT, one was the story of Mary and Martha. I admit that I have to actually study it myself to see what I think of it, but I enjoyed painting Mary as she is on her way to see Jesus while her sister Martha remains behind preparing food. I would probably relate more to Mary as I’m not always enthralled with preparing food, but am getting better as time goes by.