There was a mist this morning when I got up to check the weather. I ran back inside to grab Lily, my 18 year old orange tabby who is dealing with fourth stage kidney disease, arthritis and a new mass that I discovered yesterday. The simple beauty and stillness of the mist was not lost on her, the many birds singing to each other in the Village, or me. We all know it’s the little things that matter. It’s taking the time to honour them for our personal and collective wellbeing, day to day, that’s the challenge. Most of us are busy bees, trying as we might to fit in that 30 minute Yoga session, a few pages of that book we have coveted for a year, or a few minutes to enjoy a coffee or tea with a beloved friend.
Small…and/or Simple…for Sanity is my new personal wellbeing motto.
My B & B business tends to attract people who love nature, live somewhat healthy lifestyles and are interested in exploring travel destinations that are modestly challenging (physically, mentally and emotionally). They want to connect with nature. As such, I occasionally host someone for whom their psyche and connecting to the energetic plane of life is just as important to them as fulfilling their work responsibilities, and getting their child off to school.
I had the opportunity to host just such a guest earlier this year…someone who shared with me a dream she’d had, while sleeping upstairs in one of the guest rooms. In the dream, she was here, at Sky Story and could see outside the window diverse animals calmly enjoying themselves amidst myriad tiny fairy lights. Among them were bison and pronghorn. An ocean extended beyond, covered with lotuses, (a beautiful multi-petalled flower highly symbolic in the Yoga realm, and known for its resilience to grow even in mud). My guest, in her dream, was called to open the window and upon doing so she began to absorb the joyful and numinous energy of what she beheld.
In my view, given that Sky Story is steeped in various meditation practices to honour the simple, sacred simplicity of our true interconnected nature, my guest had touched the subtle realm, and gifted both of us with that vision. For her, it was a confirmation that she was in the right place at the right time to explore what she needed to explore. For me, it confirmed that my own trajectory is potent and is thankfully reaching/assisting others.
A simple thing…a dream…a conversation …these small experiences in life, when savoured and honoured can nurture transformation. It reminded me of a gathering I’ve been planning for some time, of like-minded people who wish to explore ‘dream-world’ from various perspectives. We all dream, but many of us do not remember them, or bother to sit quietly with them. Then again others place entirely too much emphasis on them and do not live in the real world, courageous and grounded enough to take action!
What is the purpose of a dream?
How do different traditions view dreaming?
How may we benefit from this simple, natural process?
Dreams are also one of many forms of inspiration which my Nature in Me© Intuitive Painting Retreat registrants draw upon as they immerse themselves in self-inquiry for a day or a weekend. Simple, colourful, untethered painting techniques with humble materials are used to move from states of confusion or fear toward inspired choices, decisions and clear vision.
Alternatively, the joyous act of moving wet paint around without pre-conceived notions of what is right and wrong transports even the most administratively entrenched among us. Often, to the astonishment of the registrant, a ‘break-through painting’ emerges. When that occurs, the painter’s sigh of relief is palpable. Note: Nature in Me Intuitive Painting is not to be confused with art therapy but is most certainly experienced by many as therapeutic!
My own dreams have informed many of my own intuitive paintings (which, by the way, are significantly different from the canvas works I create for public exhibition. More on that in a forthcoming blog post!) A striking example was inspired by the disturbing and long-running conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The first two months of the war hung like a heavy backdrop to my life…why did this conflict push my button of anxiety and sadness? Why not every other conflict which rages just as ferociously elsewhere across the globe? Well, the night of February 23rd, the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I had a dream. I hadn’t been plugged into the news much, but was aware there were talks going on between the two countries. That night, I awoke from a vivid dream. It was quite simply the face of Putin but where his eyes would normally have been situated were instead very black, very deep holes. I was sweating when I awoke, and quickly realized the reason for the dream upon seeing the invasion headline that morning on my cell phone.
When such situations arise I move into action – various forms of meditation as well as other modalities as I deem necessary. It took until early May, during one of my Nature in Me Intuitive Painting Retreats for me to find time to explore the dream image of Putin. Listening to one of Tenzin Robert Thurman’s podcasts (a close personal friend of the HH XIV Dalai Lama and supporter of Tibet House US, the Cultural Centre of the Dalai Lama in the United States), I learned of a specific Tara mantra which was recommended for abating/shifting conflict. I began to include that mantra in my practice and was astounded to learn the next day of the exact result I’d envisioned: one of mechanic sabotage without harm to either party. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it underscored the teaching that one frequently receives in Yoga training that our thoughts become reality. Since then, of course, the conflict has morphed and continues to rage on. The painting which transpired, continues, however, to feed me and I share it here with you. May it inspire the power of Red Tara in all of us!
Regardless of background, gender or creative training (those who consider themselves non-artists and those who make their living at making art), I invite you to consider attending a Nature in Me© Intuitive Painting Retreat or workshop. Give yourself the gift of deep exploration and simple joy of free expression for clarity and transformation. Our world needs more of this. An added bonus if you register for a retreat at Sky Story Studio is the beautiful Grasslands locale for hiking adventures and relaxation.
Until then, remember to breathe deeply, intentionally and often…Another small, simple act for our personal and collective wellbeing. Om ah hum.
Header artwork by Diana Chabros