Agreements made through Art
Using the Four Agreements in your art process and life.
When I began my long and winding path into spirituality, intuition and meditation I started with a book that was being recommended by seemingly everyone. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
It was a guide post for all of those daily moments that pull you out of your spiritual or mindful quest. It was my go to “rules to live by” when I’d get lost in my usual mind traps of who did what to me, and how the world needed to change so I could finally be happy.
The agreements are simple, not easy to live by day to to day, but simple nonetheless. I like to apply these agreements to my creative practice.
The Four Agreements according to Ruiz are:
Be impeccable with your word.
Don't take anything personally.
Don't make assumptions.
Do your Best.
Here is how I apply those to an art practice (This is one of many exercises I offer up in my Mini Manual for Creative Living - download a PDF for only 4.99)
Be Impeccable: be true to how you feel and what you mean to say in this exact moment.
Don’t take it personal: evaluate and express your emotions so you know what is really yours and what is someone else’s expectations or emotions being put on you.
Don’t make assumptions: question your thoughts, look for the lesson and other perspectives.
Do Your Best: love yourself for where you are, how you are and focus on what you want to improve.
I’m going to take you through how you can apply these individually while creating and journaling. You can also use all of these agreements at once. They are so broad and all encompassing you can apply them any time you see a chance.
Creating with Agreements:
Be true in this moment to how you feel. Don’t come up with a concept or try to force a feeling that isn’t happening in this moment. Do we want to allow healing through art? YES, but it will happen naturally through us we don’t have to start by forcing an old memory or feeling to come live in us in this moment.
If you are feeling sad or anxious and trying to be brave or positive, allow the truth of this moment to come through. Being negative doesn’t mean you will remain or attract more of that feeling, it just wants a chance to be heard and we must be true to our feelings so they move through.
Set an intention for what you want to express, feel or do with your art time. If you don’t have an intention with your art every time that is perfectly fine as well. I started with no goal other than to stay present with every moment I was creating. I began by tuning into how I was feeling in the moment, then the next moment and the next. Each moment and feeling doesn’t necessarily connect to each other or make sense together.
That is the wonder of feelings, they are fleeting, nonsensical sometimes and not always connected to the present moment. It is through our thinking that we create the connections between everything that pops up emotionally. Sometimes that helps us and other times it can confuse us. This is why it is important to practice the four agreements in all areas but especially when you are working on your emotional and thought worlds. The more you watch their ebb and flow, the more you see that they have their own rhythm and movement and logic. You begin to learn to work with them and understand their rise and fall within you.
Just make marks that feel right, start with words that express your truth right now as you see it.
Keep responding to what is created and create again. Do your best with what is on the page. Love yourself and the marks for what they are in this moment. You may dislike them, their composition or the colors but love the creator (yourself) anyway.
How I used the Agreements for myself during my creating session.
I started with a tension I was feeling that didn’t have a name, no emotional title but felt constricting like a tightness in my throat.
I struggled with coming up against a new thought or feeling and trying to make it work with the art that was already present. This was the perfect chance for me to practice not taking it personal. The visual appeal of the art in process was not a definition of who I was as a person or as an artist. I didn’t assume that I had no idea what I was doing, I stopped myself from assuming it wasn’t working and I chose not to use negative talk against myself.
I knew in the back of my mind that I would be sharing this art and process (which puts a bit more pressure on for me) and I wanted it to be visually appealing. Noticing this pull to try to make it pretty I just did what felt right in that situation for me. I used the tools I knew to make my art more organized.
I realized that it resembled an artist’s work that I have been following lately (and loving) and rather than berate myself for not being more original I chose not to take using a technique as a personal attack on my creative abilities. I allowed myself to be influenced, allowed myself to try it out and gave myself the space to let that be my best for a late evening of art making.
I hope you take these Four Agreements with you into your own art making and into your lives fully. When you raise your awareness to keep your inner world in a state of acceptance, truth and love you radiate that into the world through your art and through just being you.
Answer these questions during or after you create.
1. Where was I being truthful to myself?
2. What did I assume about my art or myself before I was finished?
3. How much do I tie my worth to what I create? Do I take it personal if someone doesn't like it?
4. Where did I do my best and what do I want to work to improve (for me)?
I’d love to see what you make. Send me an email and let me know what you tried and what it revealed for you.