First appeared in The San Francisco Examiner Career Section, 1/99

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How To See Yourself As An Artist

Are you an artist? You're probably thinking, "no, not me." Here in the West, we've been taught to squelch our creative impulse – especially at work. In other cultures people live as natural artisans, creating sand paintings and song, poetry and architecture, drumming and dancing in tune with the rhythms of the Earth.

We too can allow our inner artist to live out loud. As soon as we surrender our resistance to seeing what we do as art-in-action, we become artists.

Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the bestseller, Simple Abundance, writes, "Creation has three layers: the labor, the craft, and the elevation. She who works with only her hands is a laborer; she who works with her hands and her head is a craftswoman; she who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an artist." This commitment to vision evokes a visceral response in us.

Consider what you do instinctively, without "training," for the sheer joy of it. I have a friend who has designed and built several architecturally appealing houses, makes masks and jewelry, and can sit at the piano and play, effortlessly, never having taken a lesson. Obviously he's gifted with his hands, but his ability to weave his whole being into the crafting of homes, earrings, or musical compositions elevates his talent to the sublime.

Where does it come from? "It's a spiritual connection, like what I feel in nature," he says. The famous sculptor Michelangelo, when asked how he carved his beautiful creations, replied that the statue was already there; he simply removed all the marble that was superfluous. Few realize he was also a poet who penned sonnets that express the multidimensionality of his work. "The Model And The Statue" reads, in part:

"When divine Art conceives a form and face,
She bids the craftsman for his first essay
To shape a simple model in mere clay:
This is the earliest birth of Art's embrace."

Whether we're sculpting young minds as a dedicated teacher, or tinting public opinion as a business innovator, we're all potential modern-day Michelangelos. Because art begins with intention, a classroom, garden, kitchen, office or auto shop are all viable settings for realizing your vision.

How can we begin to live as the masterpieces we are right now? First, consider how you learn best: are you predominantly visual, auditory, kinesthetic? Then choose an activity below and begin to integrate it into your life as "art school":

  • Keep a journal – and try writing in it with your non-dominant hand.
  • Draw, paint, or sculpt your ideal work expression.
  • Sit by moving water. Sit in moving water. Sing while sitting in a stream!
  • Dance your dream career. What does it feel like as flowing movement?
  • Walk the labyrinth, an ancient meditative art form. Visit Grace Cathedral's Worldwide Labyrinth Locator to find one near you.
  • Go on a weeklong "TV-fast". During this period, pay attention to your dream life; see if you have better dream recall and more vivid dreams.
  • Prepare a meal that is as aesthetic as it is nutritious. As you combine ingredients, imagine that you are cooking up your "work" of art.
  • Spend a day, alone or with others, in total silence.

With any of these suggestions, try the form you feel least comfortable with, because that's where you can grow the most. If it's easy for you to write or sing, for example, but challenging to be alone in silence or to dance, allow yourself to live into the more arduous areas. Growth begins by being willing to step outside our comfort zone.

By celebrating our creativity, we reconnect with our courage, our hearts, and our minds – just as the lion, tin man and scarecrow did in The Wizard of Oz. Remember that those gifts were in them all along, waiting only to be recognized and embraced. Your whole life is the canvas. What are the broad brushstrokes that will paint it brilliantly alive, in all your colors, combinations, creativity?

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As a "midwife for the soul" Amara Rose offers life purpose coaching, talks, CDs, e-courses, playshops, and an inspirational monthly newsletter, "What Shines." Please visit LiveYourLight.com to learn more. Contact Amara at amara@liveyourlight.com, or call: 1-800-862-0157 within the USA.

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