Monday, November 23, 2009

Making and Cleaning up Messes

"Journal Cover"   Mixed-Media by Eliza Lynn Tobin
Last week, I went into my art making with an offering. Or that is how I started. And I finished a piece that I was happy with. Then things started going down hill. I began struggling through my art making process. Fussing with the paints and layering on the frustration. I got fed up. I threw my brushes. I snapped at my dog and my husband. I realized that I had gotten so caught up in the art making that I hadn't bother to take the time to practice the practices I say I swear by for making the creative process (and my life) go more smoothly. I had forgotten about making offerings and I was certainly not letting go of any outcomes. In fact, I was very much concerned about the outcome and getting frustrated when it didn't come into fruition. I hadn't done my yoga practice in days. 
I think, as much as I believe in the idea that yoga really does help us to bring more creativity into our lives and gives us so many tools to deal with the stresses that arise in the creative life, I forget that its getting into the nitty gritty of actually doing the practices, that really make them work. I can't expect to build the strength and resolve in my body and mind that I require to do creative work, by merely talking about it and writing about it. Nope. I actually have to practice it. Its just comes down to that. And when I don't, it shows. I don't feel as good about what I am doing. I get cranky. I throw brushes. 
So I set out to get back into the swing of my yoga practice. 
I went to a class with an Anusara teacher in a science building conference room. Although this was not just any conference room. On the end where tables and chairs had been pushed out of the way to make room for our yoga mats, there were these windows that stretched across the entire room and expanded from the floor to the ceiling and looked out onto the ocean. Through the yoga, the teacher wove in this idea inspired by a PBS special about the Beatles and their influence in the Russian revolution. She talked about how the Beatles were a symbol of self expression and that they had this powerful influence on the way that people in Russia were expressing themselves, even when it had to be underground. I haven't myself seen the documentary, but I caught on to the spirit of it. All you need is love! So it was in this spirit of science and the Beatles, I explored each corner of the yoga poses we flowed through and left feeling refreshed, steady and calm. There was new space in my body and mind and I was inspired to go and express myself! 
And so I made a journal! I am taking a journaling course with artist Stephanie Lee called "Thought Threads" so I made a bright and colorful journal to use in the course! I am excited! I love all things bright and colorful these days! 


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


                             "Yoga Burst"   Mixed-Media By Eliza Lynn Tobin

I finished the first draft of my big paper for the semester on the Bhagavad Gita and the Creative Process. It feels good to be clearing up my time-space continuum for some art playing. I'm going into the art-making with the aspects from the Gita fresh in my mind. The Gita is full of so many ideas and things to think about, but when I sorted it all out, I decided to just think about some of the basics. Several years back, I took a class with Stephen Cope at Kripalu (I was a part of a program there called the Semester Intensive) on the Bhagavad Gita and he talked a lot about a 4 point plan that Krishna gave to the warrior Arjuna. 

The four points are: 1. Know your Duty (or purpose) 2.Do it fully 3. Let go of the outcome and 4. Offer it up to God. 

I love how concise these directions are and have been thinking about how they can apply to every aspect of my life, including the artwork I do, my yoga practice, and even mundane things like laundry and dishes. I especially like the last point about offering what you do up to God. 

Krishna says to Arjuna:
"Any offering---a leaf, a flower or fruit, a cup of water---I will accept it if given with a loving heart. Whatever you do, Arjuna, do it as an offering to me---whatever you say or eat or pray or enjoy or suffer. In this way you will be freed from the results of your actions, good or harmful; unfettered, untroubled, you will come to me." (This is from Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verses 22-24, pages 118-119)

If I can, for a moment, step into Arjuna's shoes, then everything that I do is an offering to God (or to whatever I want to call the "something greater then me" aspect of my life at that moment: Muse, Divine, the Universe, or Nature). Lately, thinking about things from this perspective has really enriched my experiences! Yesterday, hours melted by me when I decided to make the writing of my paper an offering to the universe instead of just writing it because I was "supposed to". It wasn't any easier and I periodically grew antsy to get up and flick on "What Not to Wear" on TLC or sweep my floors or get outside and take my dog for a walk. Then I would remember the offering and drop back in to the flow of writing  until it was finished.

 I am going to take this idea and make the artwork I create today as an offering. I surrender the results of my creations to something bigger then me. We will see what happens!


Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm back!

"Sound Byte" Mixed-Media Journal Page by Eliza Lynn Tobin

The last few weeks have been a whirl wind of packing, moving, unpacking, and packing up a bag to take off with me to yoga teacher training. I feel like I have been whipped up in a blender! Perfectly pureed! We moved into our new space and have finally started to settle in. There is lots of light and I have a whole room to use as a yoga/art studio space! So despite all the craziness, the dust is beginning to settle a little bit and as soon as I finish the rest of the papers for my graduate study, I will be back to work on the art portion of my life. I am so excited to get back and hurl myself into it with reckless abandon! It's almost time to splash paint around and get messy! 

On the yoga front, I am incredibly grateful for my experiences out in Western MA last week. I was inspired by the dedication of my fellow teacher trainees as well as all of our amazing teachers. I feel empowered to deepen my understanding and engagement with my own yoga practice as well as teach this incredible system of yoga. 
I am feeling full of gratitude this morning. Here are some more things that I am thankful for today:
-my sleeping, cuddly dog
-hot oatmeal in my belly
-the ornamental japanese maple outside our apartment that is still loaded with bright red, orange and purple leaves!
-pandora radio
-inspiring yogis
-my supportive husband
-our insulated coffee carafe that keeps the coffee warm for hours!
-bright green pillows from ikea that make our living room more bright and colorful!
-our flourishing rosemary plant, smelling o-so-delicious!

What are you thankful for today?



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