So this post is really overdue. I had an experience this summer that I meant to share, but life got in the way. It’s on my mind again though, so Better Late than Never, right?!
This past summer we had a Yoga Retreat at the home of a fellow teacher. I was blessed to not only help with the event, but to have a lot of time to just be a part of the retreat. Time for chilling on a hammock, time for sitting around with friends old and new, and time for yogi playtime (which is the best!). There was one part of the weekend that I really wasn’t looking forward to, though. Painting. In particular- painting with a whole group of people. I am not an artist in that way. Sure, I make jewelry and crochet a single repeating stitch blanket, I even play with paper crafting from time to time. However,
I am not a painter. I cannot draw a straight line to save my life. I do not know what to do with a paintbrush.
So when I found out that part of the retreat was painting, I wasn’t really that excited. I was nervous. I was apprehensive. I was considering skipping that part of the afternoon by staying in the hammock and taking a nap. But… Molly, the art therapist who was running this session, is an absolute doll. Seriously, I love her to bits. At that point I’d only really had one conversation with her, but I already adored her and knew she was one of those people I’d be close to. So I felt bad skipping her session.
So, I went. I sat down next to the canvas (which was HUGE) in a circle with a bunch of other people. I chose a brush. I mixed paint. And then it came time to make that first mark on the canvas. The premise of the painting was for everyone to take turns sharing their truths- then for the rest of us to paint what those truths made us feel. Molly shared a truth, I painted a line. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. Another person shared their truth, I painted another line. And then a swirl of lines. I was feeling better about the process but was still embarrassed about my section of the canvas when I looked over to other peoples spaces. They were painting lines and swirls, too, but theirs looked WAY better than mine somehow.
Then we had to get up and move around the canvas- moving to whatever space felt right. Adding in our color where we felt it should go, in a design that matched the feelings evoked from the truth statements everyone was making. I’m not sure when or how it started, but something happened in that space. I suddenly felt the urge to put the stupid paintbrush down. To use my hands. To feel the paint and let my body convey the emotions of the statements.
So I did.
You have to understand, I’m fairly reserved. Not because I don’t want to do fun wild things- because I’m frequently worried about what other people will think. So to put down the brush and use my hands… well, that was a BIG step for me! I went from tentatively running my hands through the paint to reaching my arms out and pulling my hands back through the paint. To placing dots here and huge lines there. I could feel the painting. I could feel myself losing some of that inhibition and fear. I quit looking at what other people were doing and just allowed myself to feel. Feeling the emotions and letting them out with the movement of my hands through paint. At one point I wanted to paint myself instead of the canvas. So I did. Then I painted Jackie, and she painted some more on me. Soon we were painting everyone and everything. It was a freaking painting orgy. It was insane. It was ridiculous. It was fantastic!
To shed ones inhibitions like that- to truly live freely in a moment- is such a blessing. Whether it is saying what you think, doing what feels right, or choosing for yourself- we all have things we hold back on for various reasons. Usually those reasons are what others will think or what we think we are “supposed” to do. So my challenge to you-
The very next time your soul cries out for something different, do it. Let go and just do it.
For me, painting with a group was an incredible experience. One that I never ever ever would have signed up for on my own, but one that I am so grateful for. About a month after that, Molly hosted a similar workshop at the home of another teacher. I not only willingly signed up for it- I jumped at the opportunity! I brought my mother and my daughters with me. It was just as beautiful as the first experience. And now- Molly is offering the same workshop at Evolve. Can you guess if I’ll be going or not? I’ll be there. Maybe I’ll even put the brush down again and paint with my hands if the urge strikes 😉