Not long after I started coaching the quote below came to mind. I remember at the time thinking it seemed profound and didn’t really know where it came from, although I think I probably patted myself on the back, believing I’d been really smart. I now know it didn’t come from me. Not the ‘me’ I thought I was.
Over the last 18 months I’ve been discovering the truth of this quote and would now go further and say
“if we define ourselves we’ll never know who we really are”
In this post I’m sharing the artistic forerunner to this discovery journey (I am an amateur artist so no high expectations here!). In hindsight the real me knew where I was going before this identity of ‘me’ had any idea. It was telling me through art.
Listen to the quiet voice, the one more easily expressed through images, it has wise things to say.
My art journey began with this piece which I bought from my proper professional artist friend Anna Michalska for my 40th birthday. At the time it signified to me the brilliance that’s behind every person, which we can’t always obviously see but which is there, waiting to be released. I now see this more deeply than ever before. The universal truth that every human is the living embodiment of innate brilliance and, but for the thought-created limitations and definitions we attach to, that brilliance shines out. Unstoppable.
I also now see in this picture the energy-flow of life of which we are a part. Completely feeling in the flow until we believe ourselves to be separate from it.
Not long after this I started attending yoga and art retreats that Anna and my yoga teacher, Sally, were holding each season. Anna introduced us each time to a different technique and invited us to experiment, often with a question or focus connected to the season.
First I created this. My sharing salmon! I can’t remember the origins of the symbol of a salmon as meaning ‘sharing’ but I remember recognising how my modus operandi in times of difficulty was to retreat from others, go quiet, disconnect. When in fact doing the opposite was always more productive, useful, valuable.
As in the flow of life mentioned above, if we believe that we’re this separate body, defined by the stories it’s collected, then retreating makes sense. Protection makes sense. When we see that we are not this, we see that connection never disappeared in the first place. Sharing becomes obvious. Nothing else to do.
Oh and the gold (yellow!) bits where the rock is ragged, they signified the perfect imperfections of us all, the same way the Japanese paint cracks in pottery with gold. Beautiful including the cracks and dents.
Next on the journey was a collage. This for me at the time – and which again I see more deeply now – signified the leap we can make into the unknown. That even when the heat is on (on the left) it can still seem better to stay there, in the known. Whereas if we just jump into experience, make the leap, have courage to look to what’s really going on, there is beauty, tranquility and peace on the other side. Just a thought-shifting moment away. A beautiful choice to make that leap.
And finally, the last piece, by which time I think I’d begun exploring the foundational beliefs of Buddhism. This piece, maybe self explanatory, was an invitation to let go of ego. Seeing that the leap of faith on the previous piece was to do just that and, I now know, to find that everything we’ve ever believed we’ve wanted is on the other side of doing so.
Taking the journey full circle back to the quote at the start.
If we define ourselves…Ego is but a collection of thought-created definitions. It’s not who we really are. It’s an idea of a Helen, or of a you. If we define ourselves by and attach to its limiting fear-based stories we limit the channel through which life can live us. We stay restricted and suffering. Less than we really are.
What a journey!
What’s your journey?
Where might that quiet voice be guiding you?