Last weekend was quite eventful for me. I made a trip to New York, which, by the way, is now only a 2.5-hour drive away. During the weekend, I accomplished a lot: I opened a new location for a women's circle, spent time with friends, worked with clients, and visited my family. While my work and play weekend was successful, upon returning to my cozy forest home, I felt completely out of balance. My body was tense, and my thoughts were racing at a frantic pace. It seemed that too much running around had left me feeling uncentered, and the full moon in Aries didn't help matters.
To regain my equilibrium, I turned to the methods that usually work for me: getting extra sleep, preparing a soothing pot of soup, and engaging in mantra meditation. Although these practices brought some calm, my desire and energy for work didn't return. Meanwhile, I had many things that needed my attention. Next weekend, I have the annual retreat for my TERRApia School of Transformation, followed by starting a new group in Boston and then another in New York. To prepare for these commitments, I needed to rekindle my energy and focus. I found myself searching for a way to regain my lost balance.
One of the most effective methods I've discovered for this purpose is Art Therapy. For years, I've practiced Art Therapy through drawing mandalas, as you can read about here (https://www.terrapia.org/single-post/2017/09/05/Mandala-seminars). However, recently, my dear friend Margarita Amrita Schwartzman introduced me to a new technique called Neurographics.
What did I truly need? I needed to restore my creative balance and establish harmonious connections between my energy and thoughts, emotions and actions, dreaming and shaping. Drawing serves as an excellent training tool for this purpose because I have minimal ambitions in the realm of art. If I create something appealing, I can share it with a friend who may offer praise. If it doesn't turn out well, that's fine too; the process of creation holds more significance.
So, I prepared a sheet of paper and a black marker, took a moment to still my mind, and listened to the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions within. Then, I made my first move. I transferred my inner turmoil onto the paper with black lines that mirrored my disorganized state. As I gazed at the initial chaos, I added more lines, connecting my personal disarray with the universal chaos. Then I started the next step - processing the mess.
For this next step, Neurographic art offers a rather tedious and time-consuming approach - rounding all the corners in the lines. I turned on meditation music and embarked on this meticulous process. At some point, the monotony started to wear on me, but the process had begun. My brain had received the signal that a creative endeavor was underway, and it began to produce dopamine, the hormone of creativity.
The human psyche is fascinating; our fundamental nature rewards us with pleasure and euphoria when we explore something new. During nearly every coaching session, I observe physical signs when a client experiences a moment of insight and realizes they can live their life differently. Their cheeks flush, their eyes sparkle, and they become more animated. This, for me, is the primary indicator of whether a client has embarked on a genuine transformational journey or if they are merely uttering well-sounding words. Shining eyes, rosy cheeks, and an aura of joy cannot be faked.
So, what exactly happens during the process of this drawing? It may not seem like it leads to any significant insights or new ideas, yet, consciously working on the details of a drawing that reflects one's inner emotions tricks the brain into perceiving it as a creative act and rewards it with pleasure hormones. In this "flow state," I diligently rounded off every corner and loop until my drawing resembled a fishing net or spider web.
The next stage of this method returns to spontaneity and reconnecting with emotions. I hunt for colors, surveying my selection of pencils and crayons. My hand instinctively picks up yellow and brown, the colors of fall. I decide that this artwork will be about autumn and proceed quickly and carelessly, applying a green-yellow-brown palette. Within ten minutes, I've completed the coloring, and I'm left in awe – "Oh my gosh, what a tasteless and poorly crafted piece of art!" I think to myself. My immediate impulse is to hide the work, never showing it to anyone, and grab a snack instead.
Many of my clients have voiced similar complaints about this stage, often feeling that it marks the end of their relationship with art. I pause and listen to my inner self. In the silence, I notice that my favorite inner critic has become quite active. This inner voice, the one that criticizes oneself and others, is always lurking. With years of experience in taming my own critic and assisting my students and clients in dealing with theirs, I know that when a person ventures into the realm of creativity and begins to do new things, their critic often breaks free from its leash and starts biting its owner.
I stop once more, close my eyes, and speak to myself: "Yes, it appears that the colors aren't right, but you didn't invest much time or effort into them either. Let's try to continue; after all, this is just a game." My critic, having been well-trained over time, calms down and begrudgingly agrees to step back, at least until it senses another opportunity to speak up. With a change in music to something more joyful, I add more colors to my work. I mix 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 the 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 three 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.