Anyone familiar with the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron will understand what is meant by the term "Artist Dates." Cameron recommends every artist take time each week to go out--by themselves--and explore a new activity. Being by yourself doesn't mean you wander out into nature (necessarily). What it means is that if there is a play or art show or movie or lecture that you attend it alone, without spouse, significant other, or friends. You're looking to fill your well through these dates. Having new experiences, seeing new sights, and being exposted to new ideas is often missed if we're in our normal rut of chatting with mom or a friend during the event.
So one of my New Year's goals was to keep a weekly artist date with myself. I've made this resolution before--and failed--so I loosened the guidelines to say yes, okay, I can ask a friend or my husband to attend an event with me. Better to get out with a friend than not to do an event at all.
Which is why I asked my friend Melody to attend my first artist date of the new year, a treasure-mapping exercise we participated in last weekend. We created a collage of our goals for the New Year which is now laminated and hanging in my writing room.
Then I received an e-mail notice that a free 5-week meditation course was about to begin in Greensboro. The time was on Wednesday mornings from 11:30 - 12:30. Most people work during those hours so I had visions of showing up and being the only person there but decided to plunge ahead anyway.
Yesterday was the first class. I had to laugh. I was surely NOT the only one there. The class is held in the Leonard Center on Ballinger Road in GSO. I wasn't familiar with the place but observed it to be a rec center when I pulled in. "Great," I thought. "Seems normal." And it was. The only thing unexpected was that it's apparently a rec center for seniors. So the class was full - me and twenty women between the ages of 60 and 70.
Hey--that's the point of the Artist Date. You never know what you're going to get. (And there were actually 2 women who I would say were close to my age.) The class was different, but in a good way. I use to meditate consistently but let it drop some years ago. I miss it and am hoping this class will get me back on track. But this is a different meditation from anything I've ever learned. We're going to learn a new technique each week. Yesterday was "chaotic breathing." Very simply, you breath FROM THE BELLY, eyes closed, kneeling on the floor. The trick is to breath without any rhythm. So you may take 3 long, deep breaths, 10 seconds of quick huffs, one long breath, 5 medium breaths, 2 huffs, etc. We were encouraged to rock and sway and move our body as we did this.
It's more challenging than you might think. The instructor warned we might eventually feel a light buzz and I was lightheaded and dizzy almost from the get go. But after, when we sat a few minutes in silence, I was very calm and at peace. It was an intriguing dichotomy.
I'm going back. I've decided the class will be my artist date for the next month. I'm curious to learn more about the meditation and I like being able to impress everyone in the room with my ability to manuever myself down and up off the floor without any help. (Ha! God will get me for that one.)
And now I'm off to practice my 7 minutes of chaotic breathing. Stay tuned... it can only get better.