What sort of things do you feel help you to let go, lighten up and relax? Do you get physical? get cooking? Love being creative? Watch a movie? Head out for drinks? Everyone is so different went it comes to letting off steam.
Being a self reflective person, dare I say “ self “ centric (I just made that up) it’s hard to imagine that some people just don’t find creative pursuits relaxing. If you cringe when you put pen to paper, feel embarrassed on the dance floor or run and hide on karaoke night, I dare you…
Growing up as a kid had its challenges and its not what you think. Imagine a big rambling house, a basement filled with barbie dolls, sequins and glass sculptures, musicians playing quartets in the living room, late night pizza sessions with the likes of Yo Yo Ma.
Living with my Dad was a non-stop music fest. What was normal for me was eccentric to my friends. I was actually the odd one out in my family because I chose dance over piano. Even still I was encouraged to do my best. My mother also loved the arts. My grandfather had some of her art works proudly displayed on his walls. As we walked by a painting he’d stop and reflect on the work, a splash of dark greens and blues under a smouldering sky,
“It’s quite moody… like your mother,” he’d muse
I don’t remember her that way. What I remember most was our attic playroom filled with chalkboards, crayons, paints and play dough. When we were bored my mum would declare, “ Go forth and create!” and so we did. My brother and I not only made art, we made up plays, songs, musicals and dances. We lived in worlds where crates became spaceships and shows like the bionic man became a super 8 film where I did fancy things like lift cars with my bare hands and knock down doors.
Ah those were the days!
Those heady times of creative free play were soon replaced by goals of “making” it as a dancer. I spent hours in training with little time for anything else and forgetting how much fun it actually was to just make stuff for no reason. I even started to feel like I was kind of bad at art.
When my son was four, I decided its was time to express myself again creatively. Something about getting out of that whole mommy and me thing. I enrolled in a writing intensive, joined a painting class and taught myself guitar. I didn’t think I could really do any of these things well but I didn’t care. I just needed some me time. My inspiration was a book by Julia Cameron called the Artist’s Way-daily explorations, writing exercises and ways to remember the inner artist. It was super pleasurable and relaxing and the best part was I didn’t have to share it with anyone. The process and the actual act of making something was more important then the end result.
Those days of just making stuff for no reason were super supportive when I was diagnosed. I was too weak to do Yoga and in too much denial to reach out, so heading to my yoga room to decorate my altar, paint and draw pictures and make yantras ( sacred mandalas) with flowers soothed my grieving heart. Making art again became a powerful touchstone and I was surprised at how my simple childlike drawings and flower creations not only facilitated my own healing but somehow reached out and touched others. What started as a relaxation tool turned into something I could share as part of my Yoga workshops and trainings. And this was before social media took off.
I’ve always seen yoga as art. The body, the perfect canvas, the breath as sculptor and the postures, splashes of colour illuminating the inner landscape. But making art with the body and getting your emotions down on the canvas really are two different things. When I’m feeling challenged, stressed, bored, even frustrated I get out my art stuff and go to town. Before I know it I’m feeling relaxed again, stimulated and ready to tackle the next moment. You may not feel like you have have the time , inclination or talent to pick up a paintbrush. So don’t…
If you were a creative person what’s the one creative art you’ve always wanted to explore?
Dance? Drama? Writing? Cookery? Craft? Sculpture?
Whatever it is do it!
Get a book, sign up for a class, get a tutorial
and let me know how it goes…. with great respect Rachel
And below’s a peek at what grew out of my own exploration with art for relaxation…