While at Basics of Sikhi Camp (for the first time, and by the way it was wonderful) we had a group Art Therapy session. It wasn’t as heavy as it sounds, we all got together and listened to the lovely Art Therapist say a few words on creativity and give us a prompt of – life with and without Naam.
Before I dive in and share my expression, let’s go over a brief explanation of Naam and if I’m correct, there are several.
Naam can mean a state obtained or union with the repetition of His name, in Sikhi this would be Wahe Guru. It brings peace, tranquility, a humbleness of no-me. It can mean truth, identity, the one. Essentially you are absorbed in Naam when you are repeating the Lord’s name and sat in meditation ie. Simran. These are very brief explanations and please forgive me for that.
I want to share more about the piece I created at camp as I would of on the day if I wasn’t feeling so darn overwhelmed with joy and nervous energy all at the same time!
Without Naam: I have drawn a continuous windy line with mark makings around it, someone in the group saw it as ‘chaos’ and true, it partly is, my life and mental state without meditation mostly is, totally on point there Singh. However, when you look a little deeper, the artist Paul Klee said ‘Take a line for a walk’, that’s what I did to warm up and so my page was no longer completely blank. Someone I know told me ‘life’s not a straight road’ and though I wouldn’t say they are absorbed in ‘Naam’, it was very useful words at the time. Life without Naam is a bit like a continuous windy road. As I also start my initiative paintings in this way and sometimes journal pages, I had to be careful I wasn’t going into the ‘Art zone’ on this one and stick to the prompt, hard to do as usual, I make up my own prompts.
With Naam: I didn’t really know what would come from this so I found myself drawing a self-portrait in pastels, a Darbar and flowers. Broken down I can see how – I love drawing self-portraits, not because I am vain but because like Frida Kahlo an incredible Mexcian Artist (that is a huge inspiration to me, in life) ‘I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone because I am the person I know best’. Also in the theme of Naam, when I’m painting, I am in a sanctuary of creative expression, I’m in joy and peace, focused and free.
And as with experiences of being in the Darbar near to Guru Granth Sahib, any pain I am experiencing I am able to carry on painting, similar to Kahlo who had it a lot worse, who used to paint while her body was in casts or upside down. I can carry on sitting, listening to Kirtan, Simran. (One time I was in so much back pain and chest pain walking into Gurdwara and doing Matha Tek I thought I was going to pass out and no one around me would realize, but I got up somehow Maharaj’s blessing.) Drawing the Darbar and Guru Granth Sahib symbolizes all the words of the Gurus, all Gurbani takes me to live with Naam. The flowers came to me as they are mentioned in Gurbani a few times, and I have a faint memory of while learning the Japji Sahib, in English (it was tiring, it was long, but I learned the meaning really set my path up) that there is something in there about ‘continually blossom and bloom’? I could be wrong on that, please forgive my quick English translation. That’s the power of Naam, like flowers spreading the petals or a dandelion being blown, it plants seeds everywhere. Similar to a person can expand and grow, with Gurbani.
Again I was trying not to follow the ‘Art route’ but it is similar to a drawing I’ve been thinking of drafting, so maybe it has set up the next step. The whole surprise Art Therapy workshop has in a sense re-ignited my soulful art ideas, sometimes all that’s needed is a little boost or reminder of how much creativity you can bring, that signs an inner permission slip – go create, no matter what.
The other brilliant thing about being at the camp were conversations, they were wonderful and priceless, I only wish I had spoken to more people as now I later regret not sharing more moments of connection. I even mentioned my doubts on creative expression to another Kaur who told me – go for it, and these little signs were around the building’s staircase!