Last weekend was quite crazy for me. I went to New York, which by the way, is now a 2.5 hour drive away. Over the weekend I got a lot done: opened a new location for a women’s circle, hung out with friends, worked with clients, visited my family. My work and play weekend was successful, but when I got back to my cozy forest home, I felt totally out of balance. My body was burning and my thoughts were going at a crazy speed. Too much running around had unbalanced me. The full moon in Aries didn’t help.
I did what usually helps me regain balance: extra sleep, cooking soup, and mantra meditation. I calmed down a bit, but the desire and energy for work didn’t return. Meanwhile, I had many things that needed to be done. Next weekend I have the annual retreat of my TERRApia school of Transformation, after that I start a new group in Boston, then in New York. To prepare for all this, I need energy and concentration. I have lost my balance, how to get it back?
One of the most effective methods for that is Art Therapy. For many years I have practiced it by drawing mandalas https://www.terrapia.org/single-post/2017/09/05/Mandala-seminars), but now, my dear friend Margarita Amrita Schwartzman has introduced me to a new method called Neurographics.
What do I really need? I need to restore my creative balance, establish harmonious relations between my energy and thought, between emotions and actions, dreaming and shape. Drawing is an excellent training tool for that, because I have minimum ambitions in this area. If I create something appealing – I’ll show it to my friend, she may praise me. If it doesn’t turn out nice, so what – the process of creation is more important anyway.
So, I prepare a paper and black marker, sit still for a moment, listen to the boiling cauldron of thoughts and emotions inside, and make the first move. I throw my inner movement into black lines on the paper, they look as disorganized as I feel. I look at it and add more lines, connecting my personal disorganized state with universal chaos. Then I start the next step - processing the mess.
For this next step, Neurographic art offers quite a boring and time consuming approach - rounding all the corners in the lines. I put on meditation music and start to work the details. At some point the monotony becomes boring, but the process has started. The brain has already received a signal that a creative process is going on, that in this moment new territory is being explored, and has started to produce dopamine - the hormone of creativity.
The human being is an interesting creature, our basic structure rewards us with pleasure and a sense of euphoria just from exploring something new. At almost every coaching session I observe physical signs when the client has gained some insight, realized that they can live their life in a new way. Their cheeks blush, eyes sparkle, and they become livelier. This is actually my main way to check whether the client has stepped on the path of real transformation, or whether they are just saying good-sounding words. Shining eyes, rosy cheeks, and an atmosphere of joy cannot be faked.
So, what exactly happens during the process of this drawing? There doesn’t seem to be any insight or new ideas here? It seems that when you consciously work on the details of a drawing which reflects the inner emotions, then the brain also perceives this as creativity and rewards it with pleasure hormones. So working in such a “flow state” I complete this meticulous stage. I round off every corner and loop, until my drawing resembles a fishing net or spider web.
The next stage of this method returns to spontaneity and connecting with emotions. I am hunting for colors. I observe my selection of pencils and crayons, my hand picks up yellow and brown - the colors of Fall. I decide that this work will be about Fall and move quickly and carelessly, coloring the picture in a green-yellow-brown palette. In ten minutes I finish coloring and look at my project in bare astonishment – Oh my gosh, what tasteless bad art! No harmony, no interplay, just some collection of unrelated colors and shapes. I need to hide this work, never show it to a soul, and immediately go do something else, like getting a snack.
I often hear complaints from my clients, that at this stage, their relationship with art ends forever. I pause and listen to my inner self. In the stillness, I notice that my favorite inner figure - the critic, has gotten very active. This inner voice which criticizes yourself and others is always with us. From many years of experience in taming my own critic, and working with my students’ and clients’ critics, I know that when a person steps into the land of creativity and starts to do new things, their critic often breaks off its leash and starts to bite his owner.
I stop again, close my eyes and speak to myself: “Yes, looks like the colors are not good. But you didn’t spend much time or effort on them either. Let’s try to continue, this is just a game after all.” My critic has been well trained over time, so he calms down and agrees to back off quietly for now. At least until he sees the next chance to speak up. So I change the music to something more joyful and add more colors to my work. I mix the charcoals and pencils, I play and experiment.
Forty minutes later, the colors have started to flow into each other, the picture has come alive. A title comes to mind, “Dances of Autumn.” The art project looks great, and now I feel an explosion of endorphins and a state of joy and pleasure.
Aha, this kind of feeling I can use to get my business done! I put the finished work aside and go through my to-do list for the next week. I sort out my plans, making important decisions. I enjoy my present state of clarity, full of life energy and desire to act.
So that’s my story. A session of Neurographics gave me opportunity to:
- spend my evening pleasantly and joyfully
- restore my lost balance and clarity
- regain the drive necessary for making important decisions
- create a pretty good drawing, for which my friend praised me, and it felt nice.
And now a bit of advertising:
We will soon start an Art Coaching course in New Jersey. I will teach together with 3 of my students. We will work with four Art therapy methods: Mandalas, Masks, Neurographic and Wabi-Sabi Art.
It will be a fun and super beneficial course. The course description is here: www.TERRApia.org