Monday, October 26, 2009

endings, beginnings and the places in between

Endings: This week is my last week where I am. We are moving. Today, I am supposed to be packing up the books and papers and art supplies that have attached themselves to the cupboards and shelves and tables of the room I used as my studio space for the last three months. It is a beautiful room, looking out on an expansive lake that stretched out to touch the mountains beyond it. I will be sorting out, itemizing and packing up my life's possessions for the third time in the past six months. I am relying on series of standing poses to help me to root down through all the shuffling and movement, to help me ride the waves instead of letting them
 wash me over. 

Beginnings: Starting out in a new, fresh place will be like building a sandcastle from scratch. All I'll have is the sand at the water's edge of possibilities.

The Places In Between: Before the ending ends and the beginning begins, I'll be driving up and down New England, stretching my mind around the papers to be written (for the grad study), the packing to be done (for the BIG move) and the yoga to be experienced (for the teacher training I am doing next week). This means that art (and this blog for that matter) will have to sit patiently in the corner, waiting for me to return, itching at the seams to have me back in it's grip. 
 I will be back when the ground levels out, when the sloshing waves of packing, and moving, and doing yoga teacher training, and writing my research paper has calmed to the gentle rolls of beautiful day.

P.S. The photos on this post are taken by my (very artistic, although he doesn't know it) brother. He calls this collection "Jar for Later", which is a collection of pictures taken on one of those days that is so beautiful and wonderful, you want to just capture it in a jar to save for later when your just not feeling as good about life. Thanks Pat!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

We all have a purpose

      "Sva-Dharma"     Mixed Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the Bhagavad Gita, a famous mystical document from Indian literature that is just one small part of the epic Mahabharata. My (very) novice interpretation of The Bhagavad Gita is that it is basically a break in the action of the Mahabharata story, in which a enormous war is about to break out and the warrior Arjuna, appointed to heading it all off, suddenly becomes overwhelmed by the decision to make war on his own kinsman (even though he has every reason to). He is then advised by his charioteer, Krishna (who later reveals himself as the God Krishna himself) on all aspects of life, of decision making and taking action, of knowing what it is you are to do in this life. This conversation between Arjuna and Krishna makes up the poem that is the Bhagavad Gita. In the story, Arjuna really is taking on the role of every man and women ever faced with any sort of struggle (so basically all of us) and therefore Krishna's advice is to all of us. The Bhagavad Gita is a very complex story and I by no means am any expert on it's telling and really am a new student to it's teachings, but lately I've been thinking a lot about it and how it relates to the creative process. There is one particular concept that has always intrigued me and it is this idea that each of us has our very own Dharma (our Sva-Dharma), our very own purpose in life and it is our duty as humans to find out what that purpose is and to do it. No big deal right? Ha! Except that figuring out what that purpose is and having the guts to follow through with it is probably one of the hardest tasks that we beings face in our life time. And this is how I also think about the creative process, because it too urges us to know our purpose. It says to create and we follow suite by figuring out what it is we were meant to create and whether we know what we supposed to create or not, we as creative beings are expected to show up and start working (doing our duty) and then something is created. Yikes. It's a big subject. I showed up this week, knowing I was meant to paint and created this image of a very determined looking woman who knows her Sva-Dharma, her very own purpose in life. A sun appeared over her horizon and I glued on these words: "We all belong here under this one sun. We all have a purpose." And it just reminds me to keep showing up, even if I don't always know why. There is definitely a sense of surrender present in this creative process too, another concept in the Bhagavad Gita, but perhaps I'll save that rant for another day.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Tapas Color Bursts

"BlueBurstGreen"   Mixed-Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin

I am taking a Yoga as Muse e-course with Jeffery Davis, author of the book, The Journey from the Center to the Page. This last week our discussion and creative practices were to revolve around the yogic idea of "tapas", a sanskrit word that means internal heat. It is experienced as a fire in the belly that drives us. In my art, I experience this type of burning to create, to get down and dirty with my hands in the paints and pencils for hours on end. But that burning desire is not always present. Sometimes I'd rather surf the internet or dive bomb books or clean the house, anything except make art. Sometimes my tapas dies out. This last week, Davis suggested to us that we need this internal heat to light our own creative fires and that we have the ability to build this heat when we need it through the practice of yoga. In his book he describes it as, "the burning enthusiasm that excites us when we discover a blue-sky idea, a delicious image,
"Watermelon Days"     Mixed Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin
a tapestry woven plotline." For me, tapas feels like a flushed face and I am filled with a searing energy right in the center of my chest. So this past week, I decided to build heat, to build my own sense of tapas, before I picked up my brushes and pens. I added quicker sun salutations and more standing poses to my yoga practice and ended each session with Kapala-bhati kriya (breath work that raises heat). At the end of these practices, I felt warm and clear and I took this energy to work with me. The effects were long standing. I found myself itching to draw every moment that I was able to (at work, at a party, at home in front of the television). I made every day paintings, quick sharpie sketches that I filled in with the bright hues sitting in my colored pencil box.  They came out as mini-abstracts that reflected my mind states. I was filled with that "burning enthusiasm" to make these over and over again. they were like little tapas color bursts.
"Sunwaves"    Mixed-Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin
Today, however, I am not feeling this same heat and desire. I am not in the mood to make or to write, but I also haven't rolled out my mat yet. Perhaps its not to late. 


Monday, October 5, 2009

Beginning where I am

   Hello! I am making my first appearance in the world of blogging! I’ve been very inspired lately by many wonderful artists and writers out there making their mark and I am excited to be joining the ranks. This blog is about my creative journey and my graduate study on “Yoga and Creativity”.

"Shine"     Mixed-media painting by Eliza Lynn Tobin

I (and many other people) believe that each one of us is innately creative. It is our birthright as human beings and most of us find ways to express it whether we know it or not.  Unfortunately, many of us feel stuck behind our habits of self-reduction, our lack of belief in ourselves as creative beings. I certainly do. I am so often filled with negative judgment about my creative self, that I am often immobilized and completely detached from my own sense of freedom and creative playfulness.

    "Fear Flowers"      Mixed-Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin       

Where these misaligned notions come from, I do not exactly know, but I do know this: based on my own experience, I have found yoga helps me expand more deeply into my creativity. As an artist, and sometimes writer, this was a very valuable discovery for me. I decided to make it my inquiry and take it on as a graduate study.

         Along the way, I’ve been incredibly surprised and intrigued by all that is out there on this subject and by the authors and teachers I have been working with. I have been researching creativity and yogic philosophy, writing papers about the process of creativity and synthesizing the experiences I’ve had with yoga and art. I have continued to move through the space of the questions that arise from the subject “Yoga and Creativity” in an experiential way. 

"Big Blue Heart"     Mixed-Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin

 I have found that what I am really practicing when I am practicing yoga, is trust. It is a trust and connection to something bigger then myself, to a universal presence that I am closer to when I am practicing regularly. The practice of this faith and trust on the yoga mat translates to more faith and trust in my own creativity when I sit down with my paints and pens. Trust, that even when it feels like I have no idea what I am doing, allows me to keep moving forward and keep showing up.

So this is where this blogging adventure begins, here in the early scratches of a new soul trying to bring more creativity and love into the world, one mistake, fumble or success at a time. Welcome to the journey.




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