A painting commissioned by Heather Strauch A Different Approach PT Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
In autumn, do you find yourself reflecting on the past summer, and those spring days before summer? I do. There is something about falling leaves, they’re like letters written carefully, sentimental notations of days gone by. Each leaf twirling down in a blaze of yellow or red, a poem of something written somewhere in our hearts and minds, of time that was spent. I think, “How have I spent my time? Was it filled with love? Was it filled with learning? Was it filled with desire? Was it filled with sadness or regret?” I learned long ago never to let anything but love come between me and just about anyone or anything, and so I no longer feel a sickly sad feeling when I contemplate time I’ve spent upon reflection. I focus instead on the love or the gift in a relationship or situation. Is this easy to do? No, but it is better than watching leaves come down and feeling sorrow. There is no time for so much sorrow. Only time for clarity, joy and celebrating. Maybe the leaves coming down are actually confetti and there is a big party taking place.
Detail of a recent painting in progress copyright Elaine Clayton 2015
Today, there is an egret on my head. Or some mysteriously placid bird like an egret. I am intentionally placing peace, serenity and something else (maybe it can be thought of as a kind of quiet dignity?) on my mind. We cannot control circumstances or other people, nor should we. But we can control our emotions and thoughts, by choosing our response to given conditions and by being at peace within and of ourselves.
I’ll let you know how it goes. If you try it, let me know!
Also, to listen to a recent interview I had with Eldon Taylor (who helps others along with Ravinder Taylor, to get good inner-talk messaging into the mind) on his fabulous radio show, Provocative Enlightenment, click here.
Painting in progress copyright Elaine Clayton 2015
Sometimes I think we focus on problems or aspirations with such intensity, it kills the thing altogether. Going into a “soft focus” approach is better. I know if I’m forcing something, I’m not in alignment with my wellbeing. I can tell easily because I get angry, distressed, wildly fixated. I do this intense push and wrangle because many aspects of life are a struggle. Growing is a struggle. Having integrity is a struggle. Defending children is a struggle. Becoming the new me is a struggle. And then I realize, in quieter moments, that all my life I’ve taken a pencil and paper and gone into a quiet world where I relaxed as I listened to the sound of the pencil as I drew people who seemed to arrive before me effortlessly. Then I’d hear the people I was drawing talking; about their preferences, their situations, their ideas. And before I knew it, I was feeling peaceful inside. I can tell you that a lot of great things have happened in my life, not because of the difficult struggle or fight to achieve something, but because of the effortless relaxation into soft focus on the things which bothered me or the things I most desired. In other words, I’d focus intently at first on what I wanted fixed or wished for, and then I slipped into another very relaxing place inside myself where all was perfectly wonderful, and into a mode where I became happy to be a creator. I felt great from head to toe and even beyond physical self if you know what I mean, like a glow was all around me. And eventually, most all things I’ve hoped for have come into fruition. Sometimes well after I have wanted it, I must admit– that’s God’s little joke, I think–we do get what we ask for but often not when we want it. But it doesn’t matter, all that matters is my ability to take what life gives me and find myself or create myself into a peaceful place.
Try focusing very intently on whatever you want relief from or whatever it is you most desire, and then let that intensity meld into your being and become a soft-focus place within you. Let it drift like a cloud carrying your desires and worries away. Know it will all come out right for you, and that the more at peace you are within yourself, the easier everything becomes!
Spirit Painting for Niki/ Copyright 2011 Elaine Clayton
I create these painted meditations in honor of the one who commissioned them (unless they ask for me to paint it for someone in particular). I focus from the heart and paint what feels like emerging, and it is a very beautiful process. I wish we were all raised to “think from the heart” more in life, rather than being conditioned to be primarily rewarded for being rational and logical. Thinking from the heart gives me the feeling, not just the words, but the feeling, of “being one” with others. It is a sensation of calm and peace and excitement and the feeling that all good dreams can come true. Especially if we, from the heart, support one another in becoming aligned with Source, with our deepest sense of wellbeing.
Well, it’s October and the cycle of life brings us to change, autumnal transformation. The leaves are dappled with orange and the air whispers cooly into our ears. Creating comes in cycles, too–there are seasons of ruminating on ideas, like a spring time within the imagination. And then summery dreams of wonderment and work, getting the ideas into material form. Autumn is for reflecting on what has been created and where it will go next. Winter-what is winter in the creative process? It would seem to suggest death–cold, frigid and painful, dark days. It’s the beginning, though, of allowing new life experiences and new ideas to stir in the heart and soul. All of these seasons of life and of creating are about becoming. Becoming new, becoming alive, becoming what we’d most desire to be, feel and do. It is not comfortable at times, transforming and creating ourselves into new life experiences, new ways of perceiving ourselves within the world, but it is undeniable. There is no escaping change. It is our true state of being, to be changing and moving through seasons.
I had stepped away from Illuminara.com for a while, after 7 years of creating posts each day, it was time to have that rest, the sabbatical, to renew from within. I look forward to new ideas, art and life experiences urging me to grow, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts and feelings on the art I post. It has been such a privilege to be with all of you in this spiritual cyber land! Let’s see what changes and create ourselves into all good things, dreams come true.
Dreaming Under the Trees / Elaine Clayton 2015 at Art/Place Gallery “Fresh” Exhibition
Song of the leaves of time and shadow,
Written in the hearts of humankind
A Light, a Truth
A strange dream
a separation of self
Sleep, and wake
Wake up to Yourself.
Hidden in the Trees/ Detail from a recent painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
At Paideia School years ago, I remember smiling with a colleague while watching young children at play in the classroom. When they did something they should not, they had the idea that they were invisible, unobserved and could get away with what they were doing. It was kind of cute to see that innocent children did not know any better and we knew they would be learning to become conscious of what they were doing, sometimes through hard lessons, gradually as they grew.
It’s not so cute when adults hide, sneak, lie and live in deception, come what may and no matter who it damages along the way. Nothing is really a secret for long, someone always knows and in the end the truth always comes out. And hopefully adults who deceive and betray others will learn (probably the hard way) not to think of themselves as invisible, like a naughty child. It takes strength of character not to exploit others through deceit: ultimately it is a betrayal of self to the self. If our choices and actions dishonor others, we grossly dishonor ourselves.
Detail from a recent Spirit Painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
I think of unconditional love, obedience, companionship, loyalty and protection when I think of dogs, and especially when they show up in meditation or appear in intuitive stream drawings. You might have other things to add to my list, personal meanings you hold and associate with dogs. Dream symbology is great to explore since it can lead to insightful personal and universal truths. In this recent Spirit Painting, a well groomed dog (poodle) shows it can sit up, beg (for a treat?) and embodies training and grooming. This is a cultivated dog. I wonder what are the things I cultivate in my life? What has my attention, and what do I nurture? The saying, “You reap what you sow” makes me think that what we nurture and cultivate yields fruits for us, so it better be things we intend to nurture and cultivate but I am certain we unconsciously give a lot of time and space to things that will end us up in not so good places. Becoming conscious of how we use our energy in the way of thoughts, plans, emotions, ideas, etc. is a pretty good idea. If you’ve had dogs in dreams, I’d love to hear about it!
Detail of a recent Spirit Painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Memories like to cling to us, or we cling to them. Next time you find yourself stuck in a moment of remembering something painful from the past (often it is the not-so-good memories that surface, maybe because we are holding on to something unresolved in them), try to imagine yourself holding a beautiful bird. Sift through the memory and allow yourself to feel the emotion and review your thoughts of the memory while gently holding this beautiful bird. Picture it however you like, long or short feathers, exotic or ordinary colors, etc.. Then tell the bird you’re holding in your mind to carry this memory into the sky so you don’t have to carry it anymore. Imagine the pain of the memory transforming you, taking flight to become something else within you–maybe a new strength for having endured something difficult, maybe an acceptance of that which you cannot fix or control. Whatever it is, release it with this magnificent bird and follow the bird if you like, in your meditation. Tell me what happens!
Detail of a recent painting, “Eve’s Dream of a Deadly Vine” / Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
In what ways have you ever entrapped yourself? There is a Native American saying I love: “Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth.” It’s that simple, or at least following that simple sounding wisdom makes room for integrity, clarity and a feeling of lightness that is impossible to feel when burdened or ensnared by self deception. In this series, a visual midrash, “Eve’s Dreams”, I am exploring ways in which we pine for Paradise, and can ensnare ourselves in illusion and misery very easily. It is a painful place to put ourselves, most of us know what it feels like. And it is much more difficult to disentangle than it is to never become entangled in the first place. We seem to do it until we learn not to .