Last night was the first weekly meditation and painting class held at Bottle and Bottega in Coconut Grove here in Miami, Florida.
By far this is one of the best meditation events I have been a part of.
For the first time ever, I taught a meditation-only class: no powerpoint presentation arguing the benefits of it, no plastic models of brains and ribs cages to display to an audience where these benefits are taking place. The level of willingness and trust in the room where I was teaching in the art studio was refreshing and wonderful and light. It amazes how meditation more and more is becoming accepted as a norm in our society, and I am extremely grateful for this shift.
Last Friday I went to the new moon soundbowl meditation at Green Monkey, where I also teach power yoga. Jill Rapperport, the shaman/yogi who leads these meditations every month, said the most amazing thing before she set her bowls to singing: “We are leaving the age of information. We are now entering the age of wisdom.”
How absolutely right she is.
For the first time, Red Cheetah Yoga now offers a weekly meditation-only class. This is exactly the direction I see this company moving toward. The connection I had with the four ladies who came to my class was incredible. We all shared deeply of our experiences in the meditation as well as in life. It amazed me to hear what other people experience when they are deep within themselves: two of the women, Allie and Maris, mentioned they see the universe when they meditate, and their paintings reflected that. Maris’ painting was of a gorgeous comet streaking across a star-studded black backdrop, and Allie’s was a white-haired and white-eyed woman who was meant to represent everyone who looked at it, and to tune in to the purity of our beings.
A third meditator, Mel, said she saw birds during her meditation. She was a bit stuck on what to paint, so she drew a card from my Flower Therapy oracle card deck. I brought the deck specifically for anyone like her who might be a bit stuck on what to paint afterwards. Each card has a beautiful photo of a flower on it combined with a great theme. She pulled the laughter card, which has a cheery yellow wattle flower on it. She painted a gorgeous picture of birds on a branch with tiny yellow flowers with the words “Live, Laugh, Love” on it. Hers came together beautifully.
The fourth girl, Noemi, painted a series of hearts that began from the center of the canvas and curved to the edge. Her hearts came out red and blue, and she was inspired to paint the American flag behind the hearts because it reminded her of her boyfriend. Noemi said that hearts came up for her while she was laying on her back, in generous listening to her heart and in gracious opening to what visions may come to her.
I painted a picture I have been wanting to paint for some time. To finally have the opportunity to get this picture out of me was a huge relief. I have been wanting to pick up paints and canvases for at home, but like everyone’s excuse, I just haven’t had the time. And with the work we are completing on our home right now, there won’t be space for about a week.
Thankfully, my anxiousness about needing to tap into my creative side has been abated with this class. The picture I painted was of a photo I took of our doggie, Princess, from when I used to do rose meditations in my backyard. For months my routine used to be: write five things in my gratitude journal, stare into the center of a rose for up to five minutes, three different breathing exercises, chanting on my mala, and then sit.
After awhile I began purchasing other types of flowers and let go of the rose mediation while keeping everything else. I happened to get that beautiful picture of Princess before I took a hiatus meditating into flowers.
Allie is one of the artists who works at Bottle and Bottega, and she helped me with the outline of Princess. Other than that, all of the work on that little canvas is my own.
What I became present to as I was painting my picture was how we as humans truly have the ability to create our lives; our lives are truly a blank canvas with which we can create whatever we want.
And, the great thing about being a human being, is that every day, every moment is an opportunity to chuck out the old canvas and start completely over and completely new.
Allie had a beautiful share last night around this idea when she explained her painting to us. She said that she had always planned on going to law school when she was younger because she felt like that’s what she was “supposed” to do with her life. So many of us think this way, and lead our lives this way. I have fallen into this trap many times throughout my life, and it is never fulfilling. Allie said that when she discovered painting, that she was glad she could create a career with something she loved to do, that law school was never something she genuinely wanted for herself.
When sitting in front of a blank canvas, we have a choice. We can choose to become intimidated over the fact that the canvas is blank, and that we have no idea which direction to take. We can be stalled and immobilized by fear: fear of doing the “wrong thing”, fear of what others may think about what we create. The only thing fear accomplishes in so many examples in our lives is inaction. Only action conquers fear.
Instead of looking at a blank canvas in fear, look at it with excitement, willingness, and gratitude.
Excitement that you have the power to create anything.
Willingness to try. Willingness to put yourself out there and make a mistake or two, because the worst that can happen is that you won’t like what you made and, God forbid, you need to start over. Isn’t recoverability and second-chances what life is all about? Appropriate risk taking is one of the healthiest habits you can develop in your life. Only those who risk too much can possibly find out how far they can go.
Gratitude that no matter what comes up for you on that canvas, it is yours, it is authentic, and it is beautiful in it’s own way. Gratitude for the experience to let all fears, worries, and frustrations fall away and leave you space to walk forward with grace and ease and to powerfully create what you are meant to create: a beautifully painted picture, a beautifully created life.
We are put on this planet with the intention to create. This is our purpose as human beings.
No matter what, we are all creators, we are all manifestors. Being 111 day yesterday, part of the lesson was to be mindful of the things that we are thinking, because the things that we are thinking are ultimately what comes up in our lives. Our thoughts are the greatest and most powerful creation tool on the planet, because without thoughts we have no action.
So, cast away fear. If meditation itself is intimidating, I invite you to come to our class every Monday at 7 pm (please note the time change!) at Bottle and Bottega in Miami. If you are reading this and you are nowhere near Miami, then seek out in your community where there may be some meditation courses or events, or check out meditations on YouTube or an app like HeadSpace.
If you are seeing the word “meditation” and all you can think is, “that’s stupid”, then consider your labeling meditation as a mask to the fear you are holding on to around meditation itself. Let it go, get a bit uncomfortable, and try something new.
The influx of adult coloring books on the market lately is directly related to the boom in meditation in our society. Studies have recently come out saying that focused intent on the act of coloring is akin to meditation in the brain waves it creates. So, come switch up your medium and join us. Trade in your colored pencils and crayons and try on paint, and see what comes up for you, and see what you can create on your blank canvas.