Ten years ago I attended a yoga workshop lead by the world famous yogini Angela Farmer. A friend had given me a copy of her dvd The Feminine Unfolding in which Farmer talks about her journey and specifically how she came to follow and trust her own inner guidance and experience. What struck me was Farmer's use of language, her emphasis upon self discovery through experimentation and encouragement to cultivate the teacher within you.
The workshop exceeded my expectations and was pivotal in my approach to teaching and practicing yoga. Recently, I have come to understand how it is informing my creative and spiritual work. One piece of advice that Farmer gave us and has stuck with me is this:
Oddly enough, this is pretty a radical departure in how most people practice yoga in our country. Anyone who considers themselves a serious yogi/yogini probably believes they must attend regular classes, follow the guidelines or posture sequence or flow series of the school of yoga that they study. Classes and guidance of an experienced teacher are invaluable but ultimately there comes a time when one needs to tune in to their inner guidance, trust themselves to know what is needed and follow that direction.
The same is true for one following a creative path. And I think this is why is has been difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea of trying to market my creativity: for me, making art is about processing my life and experiences through creative expression; it is a means of coming to understand myself and my history in a new way. Through the process of creating, I approach emotions, memories, experiences from a new angle, one which generates integration of past with present, often resulting in healing at a deep emotional and spiritual level.
I have found this especially true as I attempt to write poetry. Working on a piece about visiting my father before he died, I found myself remembering the visit from the angle of trying to capture the details: the emotions, the expectations, and the actions. It was like like dumping over a drawer, seeing the contents all jumbled up and repacking them in a manner that makes sense today. Going through that process, I had insight into my motivations that I wasn't aware of at the time. Pulling it all out and putting it together was incredibly healing for me.
Is it art that anyone may want to buy or own? That doesn't matter to me right now. And I'm not saying it is it wrong to try to want to make a living from your work but for what I do, the value resides not so much in the finished product but the journey I take getting there.
I am also discovering how my interest in animal medicine has helped me develop a greater trust of my intuitive skills and of my ability to ask the questions I need to ask and then to hear the answers. While there are guide books and oracle cards to use in practice, ultimately working with this medicine is all about sharpening my awareness, seeing the signs, and trusting my judgement and experience. Just as yoga teaches, the answers we seek are to be found within ourselves and not given to us by another. The relationship is between oneself and Great Spirit. Nothing more is needed.
Yes, as I am, I have all I need to be enough.
These are the ideas that manifested in my pieces for my series 49 by 49:
Cordelia, the celtic fairy goddess of Spring and Summer blossoms counsels to find balance in life by spending time in nature and to stand firm in one's beliefs. She represents the beauty found when one is authentic, blooming in their unique manner and form.
Ixchel is the Mayan Moon goddess and a powerful healer. By practicing Reiki I am tapping into her energy and acknowledging the reality of Unity and Flow within all life including me. This has be a difficult practice for me to accept: for the longest time I did not trust I was doing it right or "getting it." But patience and practice have lead me to understand the quiet power of this work, accepting I too am capable of experiencing its gifts.
Angela Farmer told us anything and anyone could be our teacher and certainly Dog has been a constant guide throughout my life. I think all I need to say is summed up in these lines responding to the prompt golden boy, a piece inspired by my previous springer and my Moose boy:
My golden boy,
you taught me
we always return
to our hearts’ home
but detours are fun,
pleasure is a bone
smelling takes place in time,
guard what is yours,
offer the soft belly of you
to those you trust,
patience is a prerequisite
How do you honor the teacher within you? Is that a voice you inherently trust or have you had to cultivate that relationship? Always, choose your own practice, choose yourself.