I was a participant in a wonderful workshop last year where we used watercolor painting and meditative journaling as part of a spiritual practice. We would participate in various paint techniques and then reflect on the process. This practice is in harmony with what I profess about creativity; in that it is about the process of creating and not the end product.

The instructor who is both a professional artist and spiritual practitioner, would have us allow the paint to dictate what it wanted to become. He would call it the “isthmus” of the paint (the text book definition is that of a narrow passage connecting two cavities). The free flowing quality of the paint slowly emerges and transforms; bridging the controlled world of the ego to the ego-less world of the now.

After one such painting experience I was asked to journal on how the painting was me. I am astounded with how easily the words flowed from my heart and onto the paper. This was my response to that question, “I am freedom; I am flowing and able to become anything you can imagine. I can be changeable and viewed in many ways. Others may try to control me but if I speak loud enough my true essence will shine. I have many shades to me. These shades are without judgment, not good or bad – just are. By having shades I have character, personality and interest. I appeal to all, or to none; it doesn’t matter because I appeal to my own spirit. I am all and nothing at the same time. I am
me – the collective energy and spirit of Teresa.”

I use this as an example to illustrate how painting in this manner frees your restrictions of being caught in your head and helps be in the here and now. It allows a conduit to occur between you and spirit in a meditative process that can be quite profound.

These are some simple steps to achieve the ISTHMUS for yourself:

  1. Gather paint supplies such as a school house paint tray, brush and watercolor paper.
  2. Tape the paper to a water resistant surface and wet not quite to puddle status.
  3. Use one or two colors only from your paint tray (limiting your paint will keep you form thinking too much about how the color will work together).
  4. Apply random size swooshes and drops of paint to the paper. Let them spread or bleed into one another, let dry.
  5. While this is drying try another technique on another piece of paper. This time do not tape it down but wet it and repeat steps 3 &4. This paper may curl up a bit but that’s OK it will reveal differently than the first technique.
  6. After these paintings are dry you can begin exploring what the painting has unveiled to you. Start playing with the edges of the shapes by applying more paint in various places.
  7. A good trick is to de-focus your vision to allow the shapes to emerge with less thinking involved.
  8. Stop after 15-20 min. and allow time to journal. Explore the process of your paint. Allow the word to flow without edit or judgment.
  9. Continue back to the paint and try both styles of painting to see what appeals to your spirit more.
  10. Don’t over-work the paint or force it to become something. In this process it is the DOING that is the spiritual practice.

Teresa Van Lanen is a life coach who conducts presentations, seminars, workshops, teleclasses and other events that help people reconnect with their creative spirit and move into more joyful and productive lives. For products and services visit Teresa at www.makingartoflife.com. Sign up for a free quiz to gauge how much creative energy you have and other tips. Follow Teresa on Twitter and Facebook as well.

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