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Unconditional Effort

Isn’t it funny (and sad) how certain rituals that once shaped our experience can completely disappear from our lives? I used to paint. I worked mainly with oil, but I also loved watercolor, charcoal and pastels. I didn’t make a lot of original art; painting was really a form of meditation and relaxation for me more so than an outlet for self-expression. I liked to copy photographs (which I guess, through my eyes, was original art) or the works of other artists. Even if I was just doodling on a scrap piece of paper, art consumed my soul. My creativity has expanded in different ways over the years—cooking, arranging flowers, and curating my home have taken the place of my paintbrush, but I have to admit, I miss making art.

The one excuse I consistently entertain, mainly because it’s the most convincing, is that I just don’t have enough time. As far as excuses go, it seems pretty valid, but that I continue to fall for it really bums me out, especially since I know better. Practices like meditation and creativity actually make time. When I step away from all the busyness and carve out space for my practice in whatever medium I choose to explore, be it yoga, baking, or photography, I always end up feeling more spacious and inspired.

painting by Chrissy Carter

So how do we ease back into long lost passions? No, seriously, I’m asking you. I’d love to hear how you’re revisiting old rituals and hobbies. Here’s what I’ve come up with in the meantime. I have to let go of the expectation that I’m going to just suddenly start painting all the time because that already sounds like a chore. Also, I need to let go of the idea that it has to be all or nothing—like, I have to pull out all of my supplies and start painting a huge oil on canvas. Expectation kills that little spark of creativity lying dormant in our hearts. Maybe I’ll start with some simple doodling. Lastly, I have to remember that my art is just for me. It doesn’t have to go in a frame. So much of the art I made in the past was about getting some kind of approval—a good grade, a prize, a sale, or the praise of others. The point of a creative practice is that it’s about being creative for the sake of creativity. Attachment to a goal chokes the artistic process. If I want to share it with others, fine, but the motivating force behind its creation will be the desire to find presence in the experience of its creation.

What part of you, long forgotten, do you want to reclaim? What essence of yourself do you hope to reawaken by revisiting your passions? I want to commit to this idea of unconditional effort—abhyasa and vairagya—and feel the liberation of devotion. I’m hoping to tap into a deep well of creativity, and find the joy that can only be experienced when we do something for the love of doing it and not for what we hope to gain in return

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4 Responses to Unconditional Effort

  1. I recently started painting again after I was gifted a small set of oils and about 5 mini canvasses. I reuse the canvases, which has helped me not get attached to what I create because I am just going to paint over it anyways! For me, it’s such a pleasure to feel my hand moving and connecting the a line or shape of color. The physical act and process is what makes me pull the paints (and the turpentine) out time and time again- even if I have little to show for it!

  2. I too used to paint as my passion and fire! In high school and college even, I lived in the art room. I was a fine arts major in college and lived to paint. It was my form of relaxation and meditation as well…

    When I moved to NYC, I didn’t have a space, and didn’t make time to continue my practice of painting and then I had children!! Talk about a game changer! Now I make little small crafts that bring me that same feeling of bliss and joy while making them. Small peg dolls that I paint with my girls, or tiny thread wrapped fairies with skirts made of fabric flower petals have replaced my giant canvases and tubes of paint.

    We occasionally break out the paint, and my daughters create bold, colorful, acrylic paintings on mini canvases. I see the beauty and expression in their work and am inspired to put down the sponge, or stop the vacuum and join them for a few strokes of the brush.

    Thanks for the reminder Chrissy, of the beautiful things that make life worth living. Lots of love to you.
    I love the new website design and layout. It’s gorgeous.


    • Oh Beth, I love that you shared this! Whenever I visit my niece, we spend time coloring together and it brings me right back to that feeling I had in the art room. Time expands. Thank you for your kind words about my site; I’m so happy you love it! Big hugs to you! xoxo

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  • Thanks for welcoming me into your h(om)e.

    May this meditation help you find the peace within. I look forward to sharing more inspiration and goodies with you in my regular newsletters.

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