Yesterday, I was speaking with my inspiringly creative friend about relaxing and letting go of that critical voice that as artist’s we were trained to listen too. She too went to the Nova Scotia of Art & Design. We had a group critique each week. As a group we were expected to look at a piece and find what was out of balance, not in harmony and what we could fix in our own work and others. This was supposed to help us create works of art. For me, this training developed a way of looking at everything, myself, my life and became especially exasperating when I was practicing art. Instead of experiencing the fun, freedom and adventure that drawing provides me, an inner, not so friendly, never pleased, inflexible voice, would question each action, drawing or mark, chastising me into constantly focusing on what I had to fix, change or improve. For some periods of time, I would get so upset, disheartened and depressed by this way of perceiving doing my favourite thing of all time, I would just stop. Sometimes for monthes and monthes.
It has taken me years to be mindful and aware of this perception. That to change a habit like this, that I have to practice a new habit, Praise. That there is nothing to fix. That it’s the experience of drawing that is important, not what I will do with it when I’m finished or if it looks exactly like the thing I am drawing. The horses continuously remind me that after each and every task, to immediately find the five things I did to the best of my ability. Once, after my very first riding lesson, when I was finding fault with my inexperience, they laughingly reminded me that I was still breathing and had at least stayed on! They point out that praising ourselves at every opportunity while we are doing the task is equally important. To ingrain the new habit by repeating to ourselves very good, very good, yeah… throughout the day. Horses pretty much consider most of us humans perfect as we are. They’d like us to realize this too! They say that focusing on what we do well, accepting ourselves as who we are in the moment and throwing that critical strict faultfinding voice out for good, helps us to relax into our natural balance, natural talents and abilities. And most of all they are saying, it relaxes us so that we just naturally are doing our best and can ENJOY it!