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Does What You Feel Mean Something About You?

After two decades of painting, this year was the first time I showed my paintings to anyone publicly.

They were meant as a safe space in which I could explore and express myself.

Since I’ve begun to show them, some people are moved by them. Many aren’t. It’s not their thing. Some find them to be too dark. They’re surprised by what comes out of me.

But what others think doesn’t matter, because what wants to come through when I paint has nothing to do with ME.

Allow me to explain . . .

After years of devoting myself to the creative process, I’ve learned something:

What we create is who we’re NOT.

Creativity is like water rushing through a pipe, taking everything with it that’s ready to leave us. Just as with life, in every moment, every out-breath, something departs.

We’re so used to focusing on what things “mean” rather than what they DON’T.

As Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj says, “You need not know who you are… for what you are cannot be described, except as total negation. All you can say is, “I am not this. I am not that.” You cannot meaningfully say, “This is what I am.”

In an interview for Honeysuckle Magazine, I was asked,

Your images are so raw, vibrant and viscerally beautiful. But dark too. How does beauty and darkness collide for you?

I told Royal Young, the interviewer (a really talented painter and writer),

I can’t help but wonder, who are we to decide what’s dark and what’s light? And why live in that duality?

Why did we decide that anger, or pain, or grief, whatever, is dark?

Where did we learn that we have to ONLY be in the light?

The beauty is in allowing ourselves to feel without interpretation. Then, we allow room for those feelings to leave.

We may feel it, we may think it, but we’re NOT IT. It’s just a sensation moving THROUGH us.

Analyzing and searching for meaning puts us into our head and blocks the release of energy.

Instead, our opportunity is to meet ourselves with vulnerability and presence.

If we can allow whatever wants to arise (even if it’s scary, painful or difficult at times), it passes rather quickly.

Without the mind’s interference, we transcend.

The stories we tell ourselves about what we’re feeling are like an etch-a-sketch, easily erased with a shake of our hands. But we bend the stories in our minds like plastic knobs drawing crooked lines through sand.

THE QUESTION IS:

Next time we feel a strong emotion, can we remind ourselves that it doesn’t have TO MEAN anything about us or the situation at hand?

With this will come true freedom, love and acceptance.

Wishing you a week of openness!

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Lynn Newman