Michael Vincent Art Works

Creative Living - The Fulfilment of a Dream

 

Introduction

The Divine works in wondrous ways particularly for those who are open enough for Her to so do.  Ambitions can be achieved and dreams fulfilled and in the whirlpool of energy that is Glastonbury at this tumultuous time if something is meant to be it will be.

I have been a painter all my life and have accumulated over the years many paintings of our beautiful earth. Painting pictures is an activity of great personal importance but I was always conscious that there was more to it than this, that there was another reason for all this creative activity. For years I have been excited at the idea of establishing a Studio or an Arts centre where this vital creative work could be shared. The recent developments in modern technology - particularly the internet and its huge marketing potential - brought into my life a sense of, yes, this is the way to make the necessary connections - and an awareness that I did not have the expertise. Over the same period of time  my “Created in Meditation” programme, focusing on personal expression through drawing and painting, had been running at Osho Leela in Gillingham and the Shekinashram  with amazing results. Running this programme for a month during Leela’s Summer Festival last year confirmed that the time was now right - to establish a Centre where these courses and experiences could be available permanently and in Glastonbury.

So all has come together - the time, the place, the people to work together to establish The AshTat Centre for Creative Living; and if a dream is to be fulfilled we must describe it clearly and with firm intention, something I shall now do.

 AshTat

“AshTat” is a combined abbreviation of two beautiful words - Ashram and Tathagat. “Ashram” is Hindu for community, a place where seekers study under the guidance of a spiritual master. “Tathagat” as a concept is a spiritual cornerstone which, in essence, means acceptance. It was a name I was honoured to accept in 2004 but to which I attach no sense of ownership. It is a concept of universal significance fundamental in all our lives. AshTat then brings these two concepts together but with this understanding - that there is no spiritual master or guru to follow other than the one within each of us. The AshTat Centre is a place of acceptance of you in all your beauty and with all your faults. It is a place of acceptance - totally.

Purpose

Many of us are angry, full of guilt and grief, conditioned to suffer as if this is our birthright. Past life experience, the behaviour of our predecessors, the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters, the plight of the beautiful earth which sustains us all - we are weighed down by it all, choking to death.

We are repressed and imprisoned by mental conditioning since birth. How to dress, how to behave, what is expected of us at each stage of our lives; we must hide our emotions and rarely do we express how we really feel. Our lives are half-lived and experienced only in part. We live within bodies which are rarely fully enjoyed and are controlled by minds which enslave us to patterns of behaviour forced upon us by external expectations. We live in fear in a state of mental, physical and spiritual stagnation - the way society wants us to be so that we can be controlled and easily lead.

For many of us our creativity in all its potential manifestations is stifled, dormant and unexpressed. We carry it around with us like some dead weight unaware of its potential. When it is expressed it will often fail to be in totality, fully, completely. Our fear holds us back from going too far into the process of letting go of the masks behind which we hide and which prevent us from discovering who we really are.

Creativity is freedom; creativity is grounded in love; creativity is a pathway to discovering who we are. Creativity is our birthright and becomes a way of life, a way to health and wellbeing. Creativity is a universal language open to all. The AshTat Centre for Creative Living will empower all who attend to discover their creativity and express it in whatever form is right for them, an exciting and life-transforming journey.

The Programme and its facilitation.

Creativity - the act of being creative - by its nature can be expressed in many ways.  Therefore the heart of the Centre’s  programme  will consist of creative courses in all media - drawing and painting, 3D work, sound and music, dance, words, a range of crafts including embroidery, cake making and organic gardening.  An integral part of the programme will be daily meditations and an opportunity to experience a range of complementary therapies offered by in-house and invited practitioners. Retreats will be available tailored to individual needs and interests and a volunteer work programme, “energy exchange”, will focus on participant skills and interests and Centre requirements.

The way in which this programme is facilitated will be a key to its success. All expectations are dropped. Expect nothing - there is total openness. There is but one condition - that each participant agrees to enter fully into the process of exploring and expressing his/her creativity. Facilitators remain aware throughout sessions of the importance of each word, nuance and gesture in their delivery and presentation of any aspect of this programme.

There is no judgment - this is better than that, your work is better than mine, this is the way to do it. There are none of these things. There is no judgment of others work or of your own. The AshTat Centre is a totally non-judgmental space in which all effort will be honoured no matter how seemingly humble it may appear - this is the seed, the first step, the beginning. The greatest required skill for a facilitator of any aspect of the Centre’s programme is this - the ability to encourage others to explore their potential creativity in a way that is right for them without any imposition whatsoever of what the facilitator thinks ought to be. This requires great sensitivity, intuition and a constant awareness - remaining totally focused throughout is indeed a great responsibility but fundamental to the success of the Centre’s programme.

Conclusion

Creative expression in whatever form, if entered into fully and completely, has the power to transform how we are and how we feel, to change the nature of our Being. Once anger, resentment and grief are expressed we open ourselves to joy, bliss and love - emotions and feelings which can also be expressed in whatever form we choose. Coming to understand this is but the beginning of our journey. We have begun, we have come to realise the potential, we have opened the door and moved into the light. The chains have fallen away and we are free! We understand that there is so much more to find within ourselves, to explore and express, and now we are content to continue on our way. Our creativity, grounded in love, is ours to celebrate. What freedom, joy and liberation as we discover a new way of Being, a new way to live! Creativity IS freedom - a freedom to fly, a freedom to be who we are and not what others expect us to be.

The AshTat Centre for Creative Living will empower all who attend to discover their creativity and express it in whatever form is right for them - an exciting and life-transforming journey.

A walk on the Tor, Glastonbury.

Gouach painting.                                            

Michael Vincent                                

January 2006