Imagine for a moment that a fellow purchased an old house. He did so because a trusted source told him that in the attic of the house there was a treasure which would change his life forever if he were to access it. However over time the attic had been sealed up and made to appear that there was nothing at all above the ceiling – no attic, no treasure.
Within the old house was also a capricious ghost. We’ll call him Charlie. Charlie’s delight was to make sure anyone who lived in the old house never discovered the attic, let alone the treasure it contained.
So during the night, Charlie would enter the dreams of the home owner and convince him that he had never heard anything about this attic treasure.
If that didn’t work, Charlie made sure he provided plenty of distractions to keep him away from unearthing and discovering the treasure by making a lot of strange noises, or even making objects move about the house seemingly by themselves. Some things even came up missing. That was usually scary enough to make Mr. Homeowner move out and give up on any potential treasure hunts! But not THIS Mr. Homeowner.
Charlie also liked to stir up animosity among the family members living in the house. He put little thoughts into their minds about the others, so that all the focus and energy went into stirring up strife, hard feelings, and trouble. After all, even if Charlie couldn’t have the treasure, he certainly did not want anyone else to claim it either.
Eventually the owner realized what the score was and that he needed to plan accordingly. First he was going to need some help getting rid of Charlie’s interfering spirit, and then he must also learn exactly how he needed to proceed with getting through the ceiling and into the attic without bringing the entire structure down on his head. This had to be followed with the construction of some kind of staircase or ladder which allowed him to get from the ground floor all the way up into the attic.
The story isn’t much different in our spiritual life, which is actually supports our creative life. Within ourself lies a little piece of heaven all a sparkle with Divine Radiance itself! This is represented by the attic and the treasure. What’s needed to experience the reality of this is some sort of means of access. We’re told by some that this is not possible. They’re like Charlie and all his antics designed to keep us from any experience with the treasure and the Good that it can bring into our lives.
Charlie’s strategies can come in the form of beliefs keeping us tied down to all the busyness and distraction life can throw at us, to a gerbil wheel existence. Or it can come in the form of counter-productive relationships. He also represents anything [particularly in religion] which presents useless means of accessing the inner treasure, but also serves Charlie’s ideas about how to keep you tied up in dogmatic approaches which never allow you to go for the inner gold, so to speak. And in some cases Charlie’s modus operandi may actually be harmful or destructive, and is certainly prohibitive of full treasure access!
Long story short, at some point when you’re finished with gerbil wheel existence, as well as Charlie’s claims, and want to reclaim your Sacred Self, you set out to discover a means that works for you to access your own attic treasure, your Higher Self.
What I’d like to share, especially with people who are interested in more creative and whole living, is what works for me. I’m merely offering some suggestions of practices I use as an artist to access my own inner treasure stores, or what Jesus refers to as the “Kingdom of Heaven within you”.
It may seem odd that I’m NOT going to suggest prayer, Bible reading, meditation, contemplation, or study of spiritual and inspirational information at this point. Those are of course perfectly valid. There is a unique way, if you’re an arty type like me, and that is through making intuitive art.
Making intuitive art, as far as I’m concerned, is a means of “dreaming while you’re awake.” The whole process acts like meditation or contemplation – it bypasses all the mental clutter [drifting thoughts,worries, obsessing, anxiety, negative emotions, and so forth] and takes you right into the Heart and Center of your Soul. It’s here that you may meet with your Higher Self, your Inner Creator and all the spiritual and life changing awarenesses you may be looking for.
This is the attic, and I’m suggesting one kind of staircase up to it is through intuitive art.
What I have discovered is that when you approach art this way – with the intention of being put in touch with your own God given inner treasure – it often yields some interesting results. I’ve been experimenting with art as the spiritual practice of dreaming awake for the last few years, and discovering that the “brain-mind complex” is bypassed, while the hand [with pen or pencil or brush in it!] is directly guided by what’s coming from the Center Of Vital Experience [“COVE”] deep within.
As you make art in this way – intuitively and with intention – the process is both relaxing and at the same time gently exhilarating. Often it is pleasantly surprising. Images, shapes, and even symbols emerge – things you did not realize you were even creating because your will is surrendered to and trusting the process.
Sometimes there is also a clear “interpretation” or understanding of their meanings for your life from a personal perspective, as well as for others who view the art. One is left with distinct impressions. Each one “sees” his or her own meaning in the art! Often these meanings can provide confirmation of such things as where you are in life, or where you need to move forward, or what on Earth is happening to you for “Heaven’s” sake, and other useful answers you may be seeking!
Surprisingly these meanings can be multi-layered, as you become increasingly aware of yourself as a far more expansive Being than you may have ever realized before.
The way I’m “wired”, as someone who seeks more creativity in every area of life, this spiritual practice of making art as conscious dreaming becomes more and more meaningful the more time and attention I give to it, as well as approaching it with quiet anticipation and joyful expectation, but WITHOUT attachment to an outcome. Here is where art can move from merely surreal or abstract nebulous “stuff” into something deeply, personally meaningful, healing, and spiritual on many levels.
It is possible to practice the art of dreaming awake wherever you may be – on a bus or plane, waiting in the doctor’s office, or just grabbing a quiet moment to retreat to the kitchen table with pen and sketch pad in hand, while the kids are doing their homework or watching their favorite television program.
However, I would recommend that if you desire to commit to taking this inner treasure hunt seriously, that you carve out some “sacred space” for yourself, and at least a half hour per day when you can distance yourself from routine concerns and commitments, and insist upon committing to this on your own behalf! After awhile all the “Charlies” in your life will disappear and leave you alone, as they respect what you insist upon to benefit from your Highest Good. Mornings are often best – that’s been my experience anyway.
It is good to quiet yourself with a few good, slow, deep breaths before you begin. A little gentle relaxing music can also help you to enter into a quieter more receptive state as well. If possible, enter a quiet room where you may shut the door. You may want to light a candle to add to the sense of this being sacred space and sacred time for you. And then maybe you can place your prayer intention: Today I ask to align with the Holy Spirit and my highest good as this art flows through me.
And I cannot say enough about letting your family in on what you are doing by communicating that at such and such a time every day, you will not be available for contact, distraction, or interruption. [Exceptions may be exsanguination or the inability to breathe!] You will be going on your treasure hunt in search of the Holy Grail of your Highest Self. Eventually they will “get it” that this is your time to do your spiritual practice, leave you alone, and maybe even become curious enough to try it themselves!
Here is another suggestion. Sometimes the art you are working on will invite you to go further. Here’s what I mean. I have begun pieces this way that by no means can be “completed” in half an hour’s space. Allow for that. Put it away somewhere safe where the cat cannot tear it apart, or Junior will not spill his milk on it, and return to it as many times as you need to until you sense it is completed.
I have started these works at times when they require many sessions over many weeks or even months to complete, but it is always well worth the effort! Each leg of the “journey” in this process is important. But at times it can seem as if you’re asking yourself to walk from New York to California in a half hour, but please – do not put that kind of expectation on yourself. It just does not work that way. Your art may be the map of your journey into forever.
This is the kind of “dream experience” you can return to again and again. It is deeply personal and can provide meaning for your life as no other practice can, if you feel “drawn” to it and sense that it is for you.
Happy “dreaming” through your art! May it lead you deeply into the Highest and Best that God has for you!