Here it is; the first May I Muse self-analysis! This is the most raw way I could think of to present my thoughts to you. I'm a visual learner and organizer, and arrows, underlining, circling, and connecting things on paper is how I think. I wanted to show you exactly how I was thinking along with the insights I gained from the thinking.Read More
As artists, we often feel the compelling urge to create; now we need to stop and figure out why. I believe that artistic expression may be our souls’ way of communicating with us, therefore stopping to listen and learn form what you are experiencing is an important part of understanding ourselves and this universe.
Each week, I’ll be posting a poem or other piece of writing I’ve done and openly analyze what I was thinking when writing. Meditation and mindful living have helped guide me in my search for enlightenment. I spend a lot of time considering the idea of a soul, so a lot of times my writing centers around spiritual themes. I have begun to develop my own beliefs surrounding our universe, and I would like to share some of my most intense thoughts with you from my open mind to yours.Read More
In the past year, I have become more aware of my impact on the universe. I was no stranger to the cruelties being committed - I had seen videos like Food Inc - but with all the information I was learning about energies, it felt like I really needed to begin making a conscious effort to eat mindfully and intentionally. The way I see it is that if I am eating an animal that has been stressed out all its life or terrified in its final hours, I am also eating their stress hormones which only contributes to my own struggle with anxiety. It also adds to the ongoing cruelty that is happening; if I do not support the industries that mistreat animals, the ones that do will flourish and ultimately predominate.Read More
I have been learning about the power of intention and about taking care of yourself. I heard from a few different sources the power of eating with intention, and so I tried to give it a go. I put down my cell phone and took a break from my computer to eat in silence, by myself, and really dwell on the nourishment I was providing myself with. I thanked the food for its nutrients, and I thought about all the people who had a hand in making it. I thanked the animals and plants and universe for producing the energy that I was fueling my body with. I heard once that if you cannot eat food that was prepared or raised humanely, you should apologize to that soul and ask its forgiveness for the pain it was caused, then appreciate it for the energy it is passing onto you. That resonated with me, and so I always try to remember to do this.
I found myself pausing just before my meals, after my plate was full and I was on the brink of diving in, to take a moment to thank all of those souls and acknowledge and appreciate their presence in my life now. Even more coincidentally, I found myself pressing my palms together in prayer pose, balancing my hands perpendicular to my arms in a posture of ease, strength, and humility. I decided that I needed a short mantra to say just before diving in, and so I came up with this one after much meditation and revision...Read More
This body of work was created as my Independent Project in my Photographing Light course at Truman...but quickly became much more than just an assignment. Like I usually do with my fine arts courses, I used this as an opportunity to explore my soul and gain a better understanding of myself and the universe - and ultimately created an extension of my printmaking body of work, Live Fearlessly. I found myself being compelled daily to make images and fell in love with this new outlet for visual self-expression. This body of work and the moments captured in its images are invaluable to me.
It's an odd thing when you go from "having" to make work to needing to make work, and I think this was the first time I experienced that shift - I was even compelled to create another body of work completely on my own, inspired by this body of work, that I call an "experience piece."
The wounds carved into my psyche by anxiety had become so deep that I identified with them; I did not know myself without them. After 21 long years of fear spurred from the ridicule of my own ruthless mind, I discovered a way to help protect myself from its wrath, a way to strengthen my heart for the battle with my head: self compassion, a practice that I am slowly coming to understand.
I learn through experiencing myself, steadily becoming attuned to my being’s natural rhythm and coming back to center, back to earth. The practice demands emotional, mental, and physical strength – but provides understanding and control in return.
This series of images was a practice of understanding in itself, recording the stillness in the energy created throughout my observance and acceptance of my mind and self.
Convey to other people (particularly those who may share this struggle) the ways in which I attain peace and inspire them to work towards their own self understanding and compassion.
The poem uses descriptive language and imagery in the first two stanzas describing the author hugging themselves in an act of self compassion, love and understanding. It goes on to state that no one knows them better than themselves, and implies that they have the ability to right their own world. The last stanza represents the separation between the self and the soul, the emotions from the awareness, and the desire to conquer the distinction. It also gives the method in which to do this: through stillness.
As our soul resides in these bodies, our consciousness is consistently threatened by our autonomic system’s response to fear. When a body perceives a threat, its mind is overtaken by only one idea: survival. Since we as humans have long evolved into intellectual beings with most of their physical needs comfortably tended to, we aren’t always able to identify when this response is being triggered within ourselves. Consequently, we don’t give it the attention it needs, causing tension to build within ourselves and disrupting our relationship with our true self and potential. Our limbic system, the primitive part of our brain that controls the “fight or flight” reaction, takes control and drags the mind through relentless thought, keeping us from purely experiencing the now.
Every body carries with it some kind of fear, and mine has always been a brutal fear of judgment. I’ve never been one to think of myself as significant; I was always just there, trying my hardest to remain as unobtrusive as possible so that no one would ever even get the opportunity to judge me. When I would briefly emerge from my fears, I sought validation at every turn, something no one could ever adequately satisfy me with, leaving me running back to hide. Now, I have realized that you have to learn to love yourself before you can accept others’ love; true love can only come from within.
To accomplish this, I am learning to become my own best friend through self compassion, a practice that allows you to separate your emotions from yourself and not be overcome by them. By showing kindness to yourself throughout your struggles, you become able to retain your consciousness and the awareness of your true self while experiencing your suffering. You also learn how to take care of your body by listening and then responding to its needs.
Through starting this process for myself, I now recognize the depth of the wounds my anxiety carved into my psyche and so have begun various practices to strengthen and protect my body, mind and soul. As a supplement to my frequent energy medicine, meditation, ayurveda, and breathing routines intended to release energy tension within the body that has built up from day-to-day limbic threats, I practice inversion yoga to peak my consciousness and improve circulation, concentration, memory and processing abilities by reversing blood flow. The increased energy in the brain also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces balanced and calm feelings. Mentally, the practice requires concentration, forcing me to live in the moment and experience the now while enjoying myself with a whimsical yet challenging activity.
Inversions require a lot of practice (particularly in my case, since I have never been athletically inclined), which serves as a humble reminder that the greatest things in life come slowly with enormous patience, perseverance, and practice. Metaphorically, inversions represent the mastery of balancing the heart over the head and finding your true self outside of the ruthless mind. They also represent the importance of knowing how to look at life and obstacles with a new and unexpected perspective, even though it may take more effort and time. The practice demands emotional, mental, and physical strength but provides understanding and control in return.
How the Work is Meant to be Viewed
In the End
This body of work gave me an opportunity to bring my attention back to why I was doing what I was doing, as making images became a sort of meditation for me. The passion I have for self compassion and my daily interaction with my concept kept me inspired and motivated to create a solid and dynamic body of work. Through lots of experimentation, I found a harmony in the images I really love, including photos from around my disgusting house, inside my cozy haven of a bedroom, out on a beautiful farm on a still morning, and inside the studio in a building where I’ve spent the better part of my last four years. The variety is reflective of all the different practices I blend and the accessibility of a lot of them; they are all relatively easy - hell, I do them. These places are very personal and significant to me, and the environment is an important aspect to each individual photo and the energy practice being captured there.
I had a lot of fun playing with long exposure photographs as well, and like that they add a fun, unexpected, and unique aspect to the body of work. What I really love about these, however, is the fact that they really do capture the movement and energy created through my meditations. I can see the movements in the blurs, and I am reminded of how I feel as I do those movements, and so the image is comforting to me.
It was also interesting and challenging to try to work text, something I was having a lot of fun with in my Creative Writing class, into my work. I exhausted many options, never falling in love with anything. In the end, I decided on displaying a short poem that sets the mood for the body of work, tucked in at the bottom of the images.
The autonomic nervous system's automatic response to threats seems to be at the root of all problems, creating relentless and constant fear within. It's a biological survival method, but now that we have secured ourselves at the top of the food chain, that reaction is triggered when we are threatened by insignificant things all day long, causing fear to consume our lives. Some people are just better equipped to deal with that fear than others; older souls know better how to control these reactions. Our mind is also what keeps us from pure consciousness; it drags us away from the present moment, the now. Your mind can terrorize itself with what ifs, buts and maybes, keeping you from your potential and your best self.
This poster was inspired by the following words that I recite each morning as a part of my energy medicine routine:
This is a new day, one I have never experienced before. I will stay in the present and enjoy each and every moment while expanding my memory and increasing my intuition.
I love myself unconditionally and I will live fearlessly. I will recognize the divine in myself, and all others, and all things. I am magnificent. I will show kindness and compassion to myself and to others.
Thank you 60 trillion cells for keeping me healthy, each and every one of you.
Using the linoleum block I had cut from my Self Compassion piece from A Spirituality series, I created this four-run (2 linoleum runs, 1 letterpress run, 1 screen print run) poster in my Printmaking II course as a reminder for myself and others to have the courage to live fearlessly. The rough, energetic hand drawn "lessly" conquers the word "fear" by overlapping the blue text in gold ink. Because the ink is transparentized, you can also see the background image through the blue text when up close, a beautiful effect.
In an effort to learn how to live fearlessly, I have begun meditation to help calm my mind, a practice I best accomplish through yoga. Inversion yoga in particular forces me to focus all of my awareness on my body and the now; it involves mastering balancing the heart above the head and seeing things from a different perspective. The practice demands emotional, mental and physical strength, but provides understanding and control in return.