Incorporating the Artist’s Way into your Life

Incorporating the Artist’s Way into your Life

By Eileen Dey, M.A.

Ten years ago when I was deciding to take the leap into full-time Reiki practice I had a hard time trusting fully in my ability to maintain the creative energy necessary for building such a vision.

On a hunch, I enrolled in a 10 week series using Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way as the foundation.  It was facilitated by a Reiki master colleague of mine, so I felt there would be plenty to relate to even if the concept of considering myself as an artist was strange and foreign at the time.

The book is based on the model of the 12 step program.  Week by week you go through various exercises designed to challenge your own beliefs and limitations around your own creative potential.  The Reiki master who facilitated would have all of us perform Reiki on ourselves and each other before we started class in a meditation.  The sharing of our fears, hopes and dreams was facilitated by this energywork and the rest of each class consisted of some creative activity-dancing, chanting, sculpting, drawing, or collage.  Then, in between classes, we were required to do the ‘journeywork’ necessary:  ‘Morning Pages’-journals we would write in the morning to capture more of our process of self-discovery.  To fill back our wells, we were required to take ourselves on our own ‘Artist Date’.   This was a time we would set aside to explore a place by ourselves, that would feed our creative souls. I initially went to places like art supply and fabric stores, then gradually, became more adventurous and attended art shows, sculpture parks, and out of the way museums.

The practice of setting aside time to write and time to indulge in creative pursuit began to create space in my life for that inner artist to emerge.  As I wrote down my inner thoughts each morning, I was creating a record of what was needing to change in my life to bring more of that artists to the forefront.  Daily Reiki practice and meeting with our Reiki Artist Way class provided the supportive energy to allow our true selves to have space to emerge.

In the middle of the series, I knew I wanted to offer this class to the students and clients I worked with.  That desire, along with my own creative urges fueled me through he remainder of the series and towards the end of the class, any insecurities I had about my artistic merit had vanished.

I enrolled from there is a women’s retreat to create medicine shields out on the magnificent Pacific ocean at a sleepy hamlet called La Push.  I reclaimed my inner artist, called ‘Crystal Sky’.

It was there I created what is called  a medicine shield out of various objects I had brought as well as found objects on the beach.  This is the poem that ‘spoke’ to me as I created it:

Becoming Crystal Sky

My shield is my guardian and protector.

She presents me will all that is beautiful and strong about myself.

Lovingly was she created, guided by the invisible hands of those that have weaved many eons before.

Beads represent that tears can be beautiful.

The animals are the guardians as we go into battle.

The blue is the sky, it is the potential of a storm to voice itself.

The feathers take away the bad energy received and retain that which is good and helpful.

The face is the face of man, of god, of us all, so that when attacked, the aggressor will remember his or her humanity and back off.

I am Crystal Sky

I am a warrior

And I am a healer of this planet

I am an artist and I am a lover

Helping humanity in its evolution

Of consciousness and understanding.

My mother is the Earth and

My father is the sky and

Together they made me light in matter

To shine as a beacon for all that’s true and beautiful

And perfect of humans at this time.

From that experience, I was on fire with enthusiasm and enrolled in a week-long study of painting with acrylics where I created over 20 pieces of art.

There was no questioning that the Artist’s Way had put things in motion and that Reiki as the foundation had served as the underlying support to a process that had needed the energy of Spirit.

Fast forward ten years and over that time I have taught more than a dozen Artist Way classes with Reiki as the foundation.   Since self-care is an integral part of reclaiming one’s inner artist, I always have students give themselves and each other Reiki session during the class.  Since my first initial class, I have helf several art shows, facilitated circles with live music and signing and have begun a serious study in the art of acting, resulting in my own monthly show called the ‘Seattle Cold Readers’.

I do feel creative and spiritual energy come from the same source.  How one channels and incorporates that energy makes us the unique individuals we are.  Sometimes, it is necessary to question outmoded beliefs and patterns of living in order to help open the channel for that force, just as Reiki does, in clearing the path for an individual’s higher truth.

It is important to also look at and discuss the fears one has in reclaiming their artist self.  Although I have many students and clients who have ‘cone’ the Artist Way on their own, they all have said if they had had the benefit of sharing in a group that perhaps their process might have been a bit easier.  In fact, some who have read Artist’s Way have never completed the series find they are still stuck in certain issues and inevitably come back to Reiki to help them through those various blocks.

What I love about Artist’s Way and other books that are similar, such as …..is that to facilitate the group, one not need be a psychotherapist.  Just a caring and compassionate individual.  It is important, as it is in any group, to set safe boundaries, to ensure that all know that what is done in the group is confidential and that, as mentioned earlier, that self-care is vital to the success of moving through the blocks that inevitably come up.

As the facilitator, one does need to have a ‘loose’ lesson plan for each meeting and some form of creative expression (music, dance, sculpture, etc.).  The cost of such materials is usually quite low and are quite fun and energizing to engage in.

As each person shares their week in the group, there should be respect for each person talking, using a device like a ‘talking stick’ allows individuals to have the ‘floor’ to discuss what they have been going through.

I usually recommend an 8-10 week series because 12 seems to be a bit long and inevitably a student will miss one or two classes.  A two hour time period for each class seems to have proven adequate.

Here are some things to remember in facilitating and participating in such a journey:

Being Authentic

Show up,

Drop the mask

Shine the truth

Ever last

Remember your heart

From within the shine

Growing Radiance

Birthright Divine

Speaking Your Truth

In word or phrase

Serves to Inspire

For all your days

Standing so tall

Serves others to be

Fully as humans

Just like you and me

The channel you are

The channel you flow

The channel you heal

The channel you know

Rest upon the ground

Giving time to pause

Restores bodymind

Reduces any flaws

Remove your resistance

To feeling your power

Open to silence

This very hour

When life throws delusions

And you can’t see clear

Come back to the breath

Bringing love very near

Let go of trying

Effort is gone

Release is the answer

At the end of this song.

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