The title for Blessed Unrest comes to us from Martha Graham, who writes: “No artist is ever pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive...” Regardless of whether you identify as an artist, this “divine dissatisfaction” can be felt as a low drone under your bones, humming out of tune, and staying out of reach. Blessed unrest can swell up in a groundless instant, disrupting our grip on things and scattering all our careful stacks of identity, ideology, and acceptable desires. It jumbles the known order. It is unruly, aching, sometimes alarming.
As nettlesome as blessed unrest can be, it is also a charge sparking our hearts through cycles of creative movement. It reminds us that we cannot cease being engaged with what is real—we are always collaborating with chaos. Sometimes what unsettles us is as slight as the sound of construction outside, disrupting concentration—or the echo of a half-remembered dream. Sometimes it’s as immense as watching yet another act of racist police brutality, asking you to really see and feel the systemic violence perpetuated in our society. Whatever it is, and however it finds you, this blessed unrest will test you. It will ask you to engage with something you might wish to walk away from. It will ask you to stand in the chaotic discomfort of your own being. Luckily, it is from this kind of courage that creativity, compassion, humor, and insight emerge.
About the Spell
The passion that steers us into the fullness of life doesn’t distinguish between pleasant or painful experiences. This spell encourages the boldness it takes to stay awake to your discomfort as well as your delight. One of the punchlines of being human is our capacity to experience total clarity—to be stripped bare by love and awe at threshold moments—to then return to the shrouds and shadows of life’s tedium and ambiguity. Working with this spell, we conjure a quality of awareness that can absorb the wild energy of soul-thrilling moments and keep it burning at a low simmer, warming and enlightening our darker, duller days.
What do you do when life gets thorny? How do you treat the strangest parts of yourself? What do you lose track of when you’re confused about who you are? It’s a big risk to loosen our grip, but a white-knuckled approach to life’s irritations leaves no room for wonder or play. And without wonder or play, our creative joints stiffen and risk drying up completely. This month, we bow to the wisdom of Lori Pollock, who reminds us to “greet previously terrifying dragons with mellow high fives.” Remember, the absurd strangeness of existence is also just another familiar part of your own deep self. What would happen if you left a place at the table for your most disruptive parts? What do you imagine they are hungry for?
Meditation on Blessed Unrest
For this meditation, please begin by noticing yourself—your surface, depth, mood, and mannerisms. You are a distinct location in existence—a locus of perception—a unique experiencing body of time. What surrounds you in this moment? What can you see? How does time feel as it moves through you? Notice what you notice, and then take a moment to actively welcome all of you to this meditation. You may feel pleasant or unpleasant sensations, you may be hungry, happy, tired, or overwhelmed—and with a big, spacious inhale and a lavish, relaxing exhale, welcome it all. Notice what changes as you hold this intention to gather yourself unto yourself. Are there thoughts, visions, moments of resistance? Again, welcome them all. And then consider, who is it in you that is opening up to bestow this welcome? And who is it in you that is moving inward to receive it? Eventually, begin focusing more and more on the one who is doing the welcoming. Where does that gesture bloom and grow? Breathe easily, rhythmically, and rest your mind on that inclusive, opening presence. You may notice your breathing shift—if it grows more shallow, or almost stops, let yourself drop to the empty bottom of your breath, and then welcome the next inhale fully. If your breathing grows rapid, let your eyes fix on a spot, and then soften your attention to welcome the entire periphery of your vision into your gaze, allowing that same breadth to come into your breath. Practice this endlessly welcoming meditation as long as you’d like, noticing the shifts in your breathing and repeatedly welcoming more and more of your experience into your experience. The more you practice this, the more natural it will become. When you are ready to close this meditation, remember that the-one-who-welcomes-all is always in you. In any struggle, small or large, this presence will welcome you, entirely as you are, entirely into its arms.
About the painting:
Corina: Every year that we paint crows, Jo gets better and better at bringing them to life. I like the tension and the beauty of this painting, whose awkward vitality perfectly illustrates the spell.
Jocelyn: I remember looking forward to this painting after struggling with some tougher ones—I know what colors to use for crows, which brushes, which techniques, it’s almost second nature. And this guy was so big, I got to relish in some details that are often lost on the smaller birds we paint. And yeah, like Corina said, it just came out so quickly and clearly and matched the spell so effortlessly. When I look at it, I still get a sense of excitement and mischief.
This month's offerings:
We've got a sale going on this image for the whole month of August! Buy a print of Blessed Unrest and get 15% off, using the coupon code UNREST.
We are so happy to see preorders coming in for the 2019 Calendar! Thanks to all who have already ordered. We will continue to offer preorders through the end of this month! Preorder yours here!!