I have a bit of a dual identity: I am a yogi and I am a painter. It’s ok, it could be worse, at least those two are compatible. They’re both potential sources of income (hopefully the teacher training will start soon) Complementary in some ways too: painting gives me a voice, it stimulates my mind, my intellect, it is a reassuringly solo practice. Yoga makes me feel alive in my body, it realigns me after painting and helps me come back to myself, it can be a social activity (if I force myself to a class)
But I keep them separate. If I’m feeling bad about painting it’s ok because I’m a yogi, if I’m alienated from yoga or feeling devalued in society it’s ok because I’m a painter. This is completely because I started painting when I was 15 and it belongs to the old, cynical younger me who was torn this way and that by good moods, bad moods, people’s opinions, fear of not getting any better, fear of the future, etc, etc. This me latched onto painting at a time when I did not even know you could control your thoughts and endure your feelings.
After depression yoga has helped make me whole, and in some ways I have a better foundation than I had before I became depressed. I can always come back to myself, no matter what’s going on and I always have the solace of yoga.
So we have the old cynical, self-critical, fear-ridden painter self and the new open, accepting, fear-facing yoga self. When I go to the easel I go to it as if boarding a boat riding the pitching sea of my moods: I feel elation and I sing and dance and everything is possible when it’s going well and I feel despair and I weep and I blame myself and think everything is terrible when it’s not. When I go to the mat I know some things will be challenging and I’ll hate them and some things will feel fantastic but I know that both are valuable, inevitable and I will come out of it a happier, more whole person.
I say it’s time to apply the mat attitude to the easel. Wouldn’t things be much better for me? If my art was a practice and I didn’t go to it thinking I need to ‘achieve’ something every single time? If I just did it because doing it is good? It’s the process not the end result.
I had planned to write on how yoga and painting were similar and how they differ but I have droned on and on so much I think I’ll save that for another day!