Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
The journey of a master is to seek a path and take life for the adventure it is: an opportunity to be uncomfortable toward a greater destination. In the Shabbat Siddur, a favorite phrase of mine is something like this: “We don’t like changing, but God loves becoming.” Each moment, we are disturbed toward something new, becoming and expanding. Now and now and now and now.
In my dream last night, I could fly and hover over places, over snow banks. I didn’t worry about falling because I could assume good form, like in the gymnastics I did for years, and control my body so that as I fell, I’d be in such a position as graceful as a swan dive, for example. And that would cause me to once again hover, and not go crashing down. The dream felt like elation! It tells me that as I control my responses to life situations, choosing how I want to think and feel, I get stronger and more graceful. I’m not bragging–I have a long way to go. It is just that I have noticed that within myself I am able to use “good form” to stay afloat and even in a kind of bliss–we can’t control things in life, but we can shape ourselves into being who we choose to be, no matter what.
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!
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 .
Elaine Clayton copyright 2014 Spirit Painting
Are we captives of time and space, and our perception of ourselves in relation to time and space, as Abraham Joshua Heschel asserts: “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”
Detail from a recent painting
I had a dream where there was a very frightened woman, so much so that she jumped face-up into a creek, shrieking as she looked up at something very terrifying in the sky. But when I looked up, all I saw was a shower of yellow-gold leaves streaming down into my hands, all over my head and filling me with a feeling of love. At that moment I woke up, and still in the hypnogogic state, I saw the face of a spooky ghost. Eyes seething, teeth rotten and gnashing. I felt sorry for him and said, “God bless you.” I repeated this several times. Then, as though this image of the spooky ghost were on a screen, the screen tilted back and I saw that it was only paper-thin. This negative apparition was only a projection, it was not “real”. I then seemed filled with an understanding that all of our emotions, thoughts and intentions are also like projections which we send out, and each one is like an area or plane of existence that are all stacked up like paper in the Universe: the angry area, the fear-filled area, the revenge area, the love area, the joy area, etc.. We play out or actions and reactions based on life events. If the negative ghost which seemed to be angry, mean, full of fear, was actually on a paper-thin type of area or screen or plane, then there would be many more such areas, all filled with other kinds of emotions and thoughts and intentions. Which one are you in right now? I’m at this moment feeling a mixture (can we be in more than one area at a time?). I feel expectation of a big blizzard coming, I feel creative bliss, I feel slightly uncomfortable in my body because I am sore from painting for so many hours.
So what dimension would we want to be in? We all know what it is like to have emotions like anger and fear, to feel as though we cannot forgive one who wronged and hurt us. These are human emotions. But we also know that when consumed by those, it feels like we are “in a bad place” as they say. And we want out of it. I think it is true, the only way out of those emotions is to be conscious of them and our response to them, and to practice compassion where we are able to, to love in each moment as best we are able to. Forgiveness often comes in time. Being free of anger is such a great feeling. When we hold positive feelings, thoughts and intentions, cultivating love and calmness, we must then be in an area or dimension of being. I want to stay under the shower of light-filled leaves, catching them in my hands.
A recent Spirit Painting Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
It is such a privilege to create these paintings for individuals, because going into meditation and painting for an another person (most of whom I have never met or spoken with) with their wellbeing and soul purpose held in my heart, makes me feel connected to something eternal. I feel sort of pulled in a certain direction as images arrive, kind of like going on an excursion without a map but sensing and feeling my way. No two are the same, of course, as each one of us are unique. Somehow, someway, the paintings and the images they depict connect to the individual’s life or hold meaning for them, it is uncanny. I can’t explain it, I just thoroughly enjoy it. There is something great going on here with life, we’re connected in mysterious ways. No matter how hard life can be, there is a stream within each of us that gives us a knowing and a feeling for others, all we have to do is be willing to “go with the flow” as they say, and we find ourselves in anyone we encounter. We find life, longing, loving, joys and sorrows. These paintings remind me to celebrate others and to remember we are One in that we are made in God’s image as powerful creators.
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/
This is a detail taken from a recent intuitive stream drawing, and below that I colored it in so you could see how I saw it:
In a recent intuitive stream drawing reading, on the far right of the drawing (done in meditation with my eyes closed) I saw what to me looked like a penguin with an egg. Male penguins do take care of the eggs and it made me feel inwardly that for this client, talking about partnerships and love relationships and caring for children might be very important. Of course there are many other ways to interpret this image, but I went with what felt most powerful for me. Whenever I see an egg shape, I think of it as potential not yet hatched, great things to come within a person–wonderful strengths to realize. It turned out that this topic of partnerships and children, in particular raising children, was of the utmost concern to this client. The day after her reading session, she told me that as a matter of fact, she has loads of penguin images in her house for this very reason–the wish and desire to have a mate who will join in the raising of a child. I thought that synchronicity was a thrilling thing! It confirmed for me that somehow, at our finger tips, through drawing, we can discover and explore what matters to us and find ways to support one another. (This intuitive drawing technique is available to anyone who is interested. MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing will be out in May!).
From my sketchbook/ copyright Elaine Clayton 20014
I’m cold and want it to be like March normally is, which is mostly pleasant temperatures. I’m looking out the studio window and I see a few green blades of grass springing up in hard, frozen earth. Winter will not let go, and we expect snow tonight. Many people remark on the extreme oddity of the weather. We are in “earth changes” and we see extremes in climate and storms. For more on earth changes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Changes
Healing Waters/ mono print copyright Elaine Clayton 2014
My Cherokee mentor used to say that bathing in salt water (the ocean but also in salt baths) would heal you, and she said this could even change your DNA–check out this HeartMath Institute article on that http://www.heartmath.org/templates/ihm/e-newsletter/publication/2011/summer/you-can-change-your-dna.php. If our intentions and our emotions and thoughts as well as our environment can change who we think and feel we are, as well as who we are to come to be, then meaningful healing rituals such as salt baths are a great idea. Not a new idea. Think of John the Mikveh Man (otherwise known as “John the Baptist”) and his practice of submerging people to renew them in spirit, and long before that the mayyim hayyim (healing waters) Fount of Miriam where the Israelites drank while in the desert. Siloham, a pool cut into rocks in the center of the City of David is another ancient healing source to ponder http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool_of_Siloam. There is Lourdes where young Bernadette tended sheep and said she saw and spoke with “The Lady” and many other places. And in Ireland, I visited “The Warty Well” where you take a copper penny (if I remember correctly) and with the water and penny, rub the wart to make it fall off. (It works by testimony of people I know very well!). And of course there is consecrated holy water in many religions, but you don’t to go to ancient sites or even to new places where holy water can be found because at home you can put a cup of salt water in a bath, or instead, a cup of apple cider vinegar in a very hot bath and this is also known to help clear out your sinuses (as you breathe the steam) and draw toxins from the skin and glands. If you know of any other bathing sites or tips for healing in water, please let us know!