Thursday, October 25, 2012

Release demons

 I am doing shamanic counseling with a young woman who is struggling to release demons from her spiritual, energetic, and physical fields of awareness.  We may understand our demons to arise from within because we are troubled by distracting thoughts, having problems with anger, with attachment and desire, or suffering from karma related illness, as Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche describes in Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech and Mind.  We may believe we are being invaded from outside by negative energies that overwhelm our stability with visions of violence and loss.  We may attribute our inability to function normally to imbalances in our body chemistry.  Whatever the root cause our conceptual mind and lived experience assigns to our situation—until and unless we can release demons—we suffer.

While I was at the Birken Forest Monastery near Kamloops British Columbia, I discovered I could release demons with art. I had chosen a large cow vertebra as subject for 4 drawing meditations: each piece to explore a different emotional characteristic of the bone.  Of course I discovered each feeling state contained its own demon as soon as I began working.  “Brittle” allowed uncertainty to surface.  Quick, jagged marks created a broken surface that revealed an increasing lack of confidence.  Relaxing into the discovery of having no purpose in mind other than to keep making marks, I discovered that the demon of uncertainty also vanished. Uncertainty only exists if there is an intention directing the result.

“Soft” allowed anxiety to arise.  I do not choose to work in graphite or charcoal sticks because of the increasing mess.  I was alarmed that my wide gestures and crumbling materials would spoil the carpet, my clothes and the drawing.  I discovered that the demon of agitation disappeared when I slowed down, becoming more focused and deliberate in my process. Anxiety is always about what might happen, and is released by being fully aware of what is happening.

“Sinister” allowed aversion to surface.  The more I moved the India ink around on the wet Yupo paper, the more out of control the marks became.  When I instead became curious about what the ink and water would do next, the demon of aversion turned into play.  Aversion is resistance and the remedy always begins with curiosity.

“Dramatic” allowed attachment to surface.  Although I began this piece in a wild state of distress because the blue crayon was much too vibrant, and the foliage much too indistinct, I soon became delighted by the spontaneity and freedom of the marks.  This demon of attachment was certainly the most difficult to release, and in the best understanding of art making as an Oracle of revelation, I am continuing to explore what Matisse said, that “art is a lie that tells the truth.”