Art and the Elusive “Zone”

There is an intersection between creativity, spirituality and healing which is a powerful and magical place. To find this “zone” where these three experiences co-exist is to tap into a very special energy.

In order to understand this, it is necessary for an artist to use their creativity to explore the deep questions, to reach bravely into memories, emotions, experiences in order to explore them for their deep meanings.

In the discovery of the deeper truths of human experience, you reach a place that is absolutely filled with the light and power of transcendence. This is art-making as a spiritual practice. To put it that way, however, makes it sound formal, something that requires years of training. But the truth is just the opposite.

Think about the art-making of a child. Watch children as they are drawing, or painting, or making music. Watch them as they are in the midst of a make-believe game, as they pretend to be other characters, and throw themselves completely into the fantasy. There is absolutely no division in their consciousness, there is no self-awareness that pulls them out of the magic. They live entirely in the reality of the moment, fully engaged.

As adults, it’s rare for us to find such moments of complete engagement; our minds are too often divided and fragmented. To experience that pure concentration again, to return to the mind of a child, is to be restored to your own wholeness. And that wholeness is once again conjoined with the great mystery – that which is called by many names, depending on the tradition in which you were raised: grace, or holy spirit, or ecstasy, the Great Spirit, the All-That-Is.

It’s from that place that the most pure creativity flows. And, it is from that creative flow our very best and most transformative artwork is done.

To experience this transcendent one-ness, requires that we be, first fully present with ourselves. It requires entering into a state of wonder. Only then can our art-making become a vehicle of discovery and enlightenment.

So, how might we fractured and fragmented adults find our way back to this pure one-ness? Is there one portal through which we might enter into that state of mind? Some say that our intuition comes through the sixth chakra (also sometimes called the “third eye”). Others argue that the engagement much come through the center of will, your third chakra, located in the solar plexus. Still others claim that it is your heart that has to be fully engaged, so they say it is the fourth chakra.

I think that it is actually the case that all of your energies must be open and engaged. Think again of that child, in a state of abandon. Mind, heart and body are fully enraptured. That is what we want.

But how to get there? Practice letting go. It might take a little while to unlearn your habits of multi-tasking, or split thinking. It might require that you take yourself away from your everyday locations, to a peaceful place that allows you time away from the electronics, the piles of work, the constant buzzing of your everyday life.  This can be something as simple as sitting quietly in your own backyard.  Or, it could mean taking yourself a bit further away, to a park, or a river.  Part of the fun of doing this is that you can plan tiny excursions that shake out the cobwebs of everyday life.

If you are a meditator, you already know that there are ways to quiet your mind and settle down. But if you are not a meditator, you might want to explore the various types of meditation, in order to see what method suits you. If you are a more kinesthetic type, activities like yoga, or Qi gong, or T’ai Chi might help to settle your energy.

Think of times in your life when you are fully engaged. Are you a sports fan? Do you find yourself absolutely transfixed when watching a football game? Or, do you play sports? Do you have moments of absolutely concentration, when you are not “thinking” but simply “being” or “doing”? If so, try to summon that experience, and find the feeling place of it, familiarize yourself with it so that it becomes a place to which you can return at will. This might take a bit of practice, but it is absolutely worth it.

Finally, play. That’s right. Play. Buy yourself a box of crayons and some construction paper. Go to a thrift shop and find some great dress up clothes. Dance. Sing.

Do you have a pet? Then include your pet in your play, because there is nothing that can get your into the pure joy of the moment the way the zen-like being-ness of a pet can. If you don’t have a pet, take yourself to the park and watch other people and their dogs.

The point, with all this, is to find as many avenues back into that state of one-ness as you can. In making this effort, you’ll discover that your capacity for joy is increased. You will get more comfortable being a little bit silly….or even being a lot silly. That means the inner critic is letting loose a bit. The barriers to deep creative concentration are dissolving; and that is the goal. The spirituality moves more fully in a sense of abandon, and inspiration flows more freely.

So, explore your creative process. Try some of these suggestions. See what feels best, and what helps you to find your way back to that child-like place; because once you get there, you’ll realize that it is not a childish place. Instead it is a place of purity, openness, wonder, and magic in which astonishing realizations can arise, and from which truly wonderful things can be created.


Next time:  We’ll be talking about the ways to explore the various “portals” of creativity, beginning with a discussion of the first chakra. Each chakra offers its own special portal, and learning about them offers amazing opportunities to deepen your art.







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