Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Dreaming Can Be An Asset To Enriching Your Life By Lois Dewitt

Perhaps you were sitting at your desk, doing your routine work, but your mind drifted and you started thinking about other things-Perhaps you started thinking of trees, or the new car you just purchased, or the funny look on your seven year old's face when he ate the broccoli you told him to eat.
The mental drifting we all do is normal and has been going on since we all, coming up out of the sea, started to grow our brains. What happens with this drifting is how you perceive it: Is that kind of musing a good thing or a bad thing? Many times it seems to be a bad thing because, oh, oh, we have gotten away from our work and now have to get back, Uh, where was I? How disorienting!
This drifting journey can be rather powerful, depending on how great your need is for drifting into other mind areas is. There is a reason why we do this. If we do really need to get away, this drifting can be a therapeutic survival mechanism that will save us from total boredom or anxieties about our job routine.
Do you believe in your brain? Most of us don't really know what is going on inside our heads. We respond to certain reactionary things that progress our daily lives-i.e. get up in the morning, drink coffee, talk to wife, children, run to catch the bus or start the car and drive to work. So many of us do this automatically and we are quite good at it. We are good at our jobs and exist in that part of our brain that for the most part governs our lives-our job security, how we protect ourselves and our families. It is definitely a good thing--however, what about the drifting? Why are we drifting and of what value is it?
In a seminal self-help book, "The Habits of Highly Effective People," Steven Covey writes about Victor Frankl who, in a German prison camp experienced horrible things, including his parents, brother and wife being sent to the gas ovens. To maintain his sanity, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, often describing to imagined students what he was learning through the torture he was going through. Frankl became an inspiration to those around him. Using memory and imagination he projected himself beyond his terrible environment and created an internal freedom that would help him survive and eventually help others.
Lately, an art student told me that I had taught her how to "drift and dream." I asked her to expand on that subject as she was smiling and feeling good about it. She said, "Well, in drawing you asked us to shade our drawing and I remember you made us shade our drawings a lot! I got into it, like the rest of us did and found I was kind of traveling to a new place where I hadn't been before. Once I settled down and started to draw, I got very calm. It seemed I was just floating and doing." Other student chimed in, saying they had felt the same thing through doing the lengthy shading exercise.
I was amazed, and delighted to hear their stories of "drifting and dreaming" while they were actually drawing. Some of their stories were, " I travel to another place while doing the work." "I kind of leave things and come back when I am done with the drawing," and "I feel apart from other things in my life and I really like that!"
As in meditation and other mind states, my take on what my students experience maps a journey to another part of our brain that is creative. As the drawing (or painting or whatever creative endeavor) is going on, to reach this strata of thinking is to activate the creative resources we are all endowed with. To me, as an art instructor this area is most important. It is where the art learning process begins, expands and enriches.
As I have learned from my students, many who are accountants, financial consultants, teachers, disabled, autistic, dyslexic,-we still need to incorporate the creative part of our brains to enrich our lives fully. Their comments on meeting and employing that part of their brain has, in a creative experience, been an enriching, life-changing experience. They have met a rich vein of thinking that propels them to research their feelings, express themselves in personal and inspirational ways guided by an intuitive belief in a mental strength they hadn't known they had.
Many inventions have come from this part of the brain, many inspirations, epiphanies and goals to future development. So dream on, dream well and take your dreams seriously. You only have one lifetime and in that lifetime, if you listen to that inner dreaming voice and make credible that inner urge that calls you to think differently about where you are, who you are, what you are, your dream will start working to improve the very fabric of your existence.
Test it. Test that dream to see what it reveals when you go down into the depths of that part of your brain. We are not talking about revenge, anger or hate. We are talking about a part of your brain that knows no boundaries, no threats, no sour notes, no negative feelings. This is a neutral area that allows us to go into and grow untethered toward positive, life-enriching sources.
Sometimes renegade thoughts, angers, doubts and anxieties propel us into areas of our brains that allow us to make manifest negative desires. If a rage or furor is part of what seems a dream, it is not coming from that highly productive part that can do you and the world good. It is coming from your emotions that, uncontrolled,can spur you to do an act that may very well in the future, be regrettable.
I had a young student who was very passionate and wanted to become an artist. He had an anger towards his parents that he wanted to express it artistically. As I taught him drawing skills, I could see his anger coming out in his drawings. In critique, I told him that his drawings were very good, technically and encouraged him to committing to a very strong subject matter-an alcoholic father, a mother who was very ill, and a brother who also was very angry.
As we looked at his drawings together, over time I could see that his feelings had neutralized through his personal expression of his thoughts. Now he could see, from a different standpoint, what was driving his emotions. Learning the drawing skills, producing a series of drawings of intense personal issues produced a good retrospective for him. His drawings were displayed at a community center and received very well. He began to see that others shared his feelings and his visions.
To this day I periodically receive emails from this student I had years ago. He applied to a good art school, was accepted and now has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Having just graduated, he will begin his career as an art instructor. I am sure that his skills and experience will be an asset for his young students and, if they have the same challenges he had, he will be able to bring them along into a rich, creative life.
Lois' website offering free online art classes and many art resources, includes a gallery of her own paintings and pastels, as well as her videos demonstrating a wide variety of skills and techniques in the lessons: