I have spent the past decade of my life healing from illness, grief and trauma by practicing mindfulness meditation, and art.
And in the last five years here in Phoenix I have been learning to draw from the model at Arizona Artists Guild, and teaching art classes around the city.
Though I wasn't conscious of it when I began, these practices have been cultivating and growing my heart and my capacity to love.
These are ways of deepening the heart connections with all of life, everyone and everything I encounter.
Through mindfulness, I bring attention and awareness to my thoughts and feelings.
Where I used to judge or condemn myself, now I give myself space . . . and breathe through those feelings. They are temporary.
Gentle breath and attention can help me to glide through the difficult moments without getting stuck in them.
In mindfulness I have a higher perspective . . . leading to compassion . . . for my humanity, flaws and weaknesses.
When I draw the model, no matter what I thought of his or her physical appearance when I began, the essential unique beauty (body and spirit) of the person emerges, through drawing and paying attention.
I am able to feel love and appreciation, even without knowing them, our only relationship being that of artist and model.
It's the same with whatever is the focus of my deep attention.
That focus could be the observation of a person, landscape, plant, animal, city, or object.
Or it could be the contents of my mind, my feelings and intuition.
Or my desire to put colors and shapes and materials together in a certain way.
Drawing and creating art is also a way to practice self love and self compassion.
I need to accept my imperfections as an artist, and see how far I have to go. And I also need to appreciate myself for keeping up my practice, and acknowledge how far I have come.
I show myself love by giving myself time to create,
which is time to let my spirit play and express itself.
I am lucky to draw with a group of elder artists. I feel the loving and kind quality of their hearts after many years of artistic practice.
In their eyes is not judgement but curiosity, open-heartedness and unconditional acceptance.
To be in their presence is proof of the transformative power of practicing art.
Through teaching, I continually confront my own fear, limitations and vulnerability, just as my students do.
We all rise above, for the sake of growing and learning.
I create a caring and safe environment to learn, to be vulnerable, to ask for help, to share our knowledge.
This requires a bond of love and trust which is built over time.
Through ART, mindfulness and teaching, I have learned that Love is a connection that I can have anytime, anywhere, with anyone or anything, including myself.
I hope to express to you, that Art isn't primarily about making pictures or objects.
That's just a side effect.
The true magic,
the true alchemy of the Artist is
infusing as many moments of Life as possible
with caring and loving attention.
THIS is how artists create beauty in our world.
ART IS LOVE IS ART IS LOVE IS ART