I used to ask “why is it that, when I paint, thoughts of uncomfortable situations from long ago and old troubled relationships with people I haven’t seen for years sometimes float through my head?” They are no longer loaded at all…I observe that too…yet they still occur to me most at times when I used to expect to have a different set of thoughts floating through the the landscape of my most relaxed and enjoyable activity.
The fact of the matter is, yes, painting is a mediation to me; I put my mind into neutral and free-ride my inspiration without inviting thought in more than I have to, which leaves the screen of my mind wide open for any sub-conscious preoccupations to plug into. Then, these old energies from “my past” are free-agents now, they are no longer suppressed inside of me; I’ve done the big work and fully integrated them into my experience, have come to accept how they have been the building blocks of my life, which has been my big work of the last five years. Yet these experience-nuggets don’t just go away, they will remain in the fabric of me while I remain in this body. The difference is that they are now “unloaded”, floating around like thought-sprites, free as a bird…which is how I, ultimately, liberated myself too. So, yes, when my mind is least cluttered…which is when I meditate, walk in nature and paint…they flutter in and they land on my shoulder from time-to-time. They pay me a visit and I think “oh its you again” and allow them to sit there for a while (though they never stay for long once they realise I’m not going to engage). I don’t have to invest in them, get drawn into any drama around them, wonder “oh no, do I need to address that old thing, contact that person, make amends, feel bad, regret something” etc…all that “work” has already been done at the energetic level; I’m still doing it by allowing free-access to these nooks and crannies of myself. I can just watch these thoughts arise with the bemused yet graceful air of someone presented with an old photo album at a family reunion; smilingly accepting of what once was yet utterly detached from it in the “now”.
What I observe the most is how much better I feel these days for having this uncharged reaction to what floats through; there’s no resistance in me to those thoughts…they just are. They no longer leave me feeling weary, overwhelmed or like I must do something to quash them or make amends. I’m aware of feeling light around them, of being released from the burden of performing the heavy chore that used to engage me every single day of my life before I could even go about the chosen business of my life – like a great pile of dishes I had to wash and put away in cupboards before going out – though I was quite unaware I was even doing it at the time. Like the very priority of my existence, I once lived my life putting all my subconscious energy into fighting down feelings and memories that the so-called pristine landscape of my “now” relied upon being kept under close lock and key where I couldn’t see them or risk having them spoil my day; how exhausting must that have been!
To quote John Smallman, whose blog I hugely recommend “They are experiences that have hurt you and that you have refused or been unable to address and release because they were so painful. They remain embedded, seemingly out of sight out of mind, but you use enormous quantities of energy keeping them repressed”.
These days, its a freehouse in my thoughts; things come and go yet nothing leaves sooty bootmarks on my floor for very long. After they have passed through, I sit and watch as any debris blows away on the breeze; all utterly self-cleaning if I am prepared to give it just a few moments of my time. It troubles me not that these visitors make a free-house of me while I paint; I find it interesting, not disturbing, to play host to them and, while they still show up, I know there are still gifts to be delivered via their free access to the patterns of my mind. Its been one of the many gifts of engaging in art as an almost daily practice that I have taught myself how to provide an unconditional open space to whatever happens to pass through my field; access into me and access back out again, the doors flung wide-open. To me, it encapsulates the very quality of “art’ that its activity provides such an open meet-up space for anyone passing though, which is why I always encourage people to try-out a creative pursuit for their own enjoyment and yet the same could be achieved through daily meditation or a walk in nature. What I have found is that, these days, my tranquility is no longer conditional upon a certain kind of thought passing through – whatever I am engaged in – and, actually, the completely mixed bag of what presents itself more readily neutralises itself into the state of non-thought that delivers my most inspired and joyful moments of all.
Johnsmallman’s Blog (link to source of quote)