June 01, 2023
The other weekend I spent the day with Alison, artist & founder of Wisdom Nectar, in her painting studio.
My intention for the day was to snap a few in-action shots of her working on a new painting–one that was inspired from our recent adventures in Nepal.
When we were in Kathmandu, we were all pretty worn down & sick—at one point I remember dramatically thinking: “I don’t even remember what it feels like to have energy & feel well.” … [insert long poor me sigh]
For example, this is me, during my first time at Boudha stupa—one of the places that I was most excited to see in Nepal.
I am on a full speed struggle train. Barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Feeling like I am covered in a dark cloudy cloak.
And then this is me at lunch later that day. Full on passed out on the table:
In Kathmandu, we were all severely dehydrated. I had an old grumpy fever that would visit me every night in the form of an excruciating headache. We were all chomping down Tibetan medicine like it was candy to get rid of our nasty coughs. It was so cold we had to sleep with a portable heater on that lit up the entire room like it was daylight. For darkness, we got used to sleeping with yak scarves over our eyes.
Case in point:
Our hearts were being fueled & fed by unseen forces and unexplainable wish-fulfilling magic—but our physical flesh bodies were in a mess.
I am telling you this to give you some background as to why having a little Western comfort was a relief.
Right off the Kora path that surrounds the Swayambhu stupa is a cafe called Lamme [Lah-May]. Along with serving some traditional Nepali dishes & curries, they knew what they were doing when it came to good ol’ American comfort food—particularly pizza, french fries, chocolate chip cookies & cheesecake.
Comfort food aside, the best part of the restaurant was their giant 2-story mural they had painted on the wall you faced when you entered their space:
Manjushri is the embodiment of the perfection of wisdom.
In his right hand, he holds a blazing sword of knowledge that cuts through delusion and dispels the darkness of ignorance. In his left hand, he holds a blue lotus upon which sits the Heart Sutra text, representing the wisdom of all enlightened beings.
Every time we visited Lamee for fresh cookies or a hot drink, we fell more in love with the Manjushri mural and at least one of us would make a wish out loud:
“We need one of these at the SAN Center!”
Flash forward to now:
Nepal is actually where Alison was trained in the art of Thangka painting—when she lived there 25 years ago!
While this isn’t a traditional Thangka painting—they’re typically done with natural mineral pigments on a stretched cotton fabric—the level of artistry, clarity of mind & attention to sacred detail is on par.
I’ve seen a few of Alison’s paintings go from start to finish. I am always amazed at the transformation each piece goes through; from the first layer of paint, to the last. It blows my mind actually, and she makes it all look so easy!
Then she asked:
“Do you want to help me put some paint on the canvas?”
She needed the outer petals of Manjushri’s lotus throne painted. They were currently too bright (like Expansive Presence pink) and needed to soften to more of a coral (like the color of Open Heart).
That seemed like a doable task for a non-experienced painter like me, so I was game! I just needed to stay inside the lines … easy peasy!
She helped me mix the paint, let me choose my paintbrush & I started painting the lotus throne!
Alison is such an amazing art teacher and guide that she makes you feel like you really are nailing it. She's so encouraging, rooting you on like a mother to her child.
She completely strips away all of your own self-sabotaging thoughts like:
“This is terrible.”
“You'll never be able to paint.”
“You're going to ruin her painting and everyone will blame you!”
She has a super pure way of inviting your inner creative out of hiding … and then boosts her full of confidence.
Once I finished the outer petals, she asked me to do the inside of the petals … which required highlights & shadows. Meaning: she wanted me to do something beyond my artistic level.
Me: “You’re going to need to tell me exactly what you’d like me to do.”
So nonchalant, she said: “Keep doing what you’re doing! Looks great!”
So I just went for it! I knew that if I was doing mantra while peacefully adding paint to the canvas, that my contribution to this otherworldly piece couldn’t go wrong.
And again, stroke by stroke, she rooted me on.
Mental rumination dissolved, time felt timeless, and our divine selves were awake and in collaboration together.
After I finished the last petal, I stepped back to look at my work …
“Oh nooo! They look like baby butts!"
She says she loves them and will probably keep them as they are—but a lot more paint is yet to be put on the canvas, so we’ll see how it all comes together. ; )
Unexpectedly, the day turned into more than just painting & pictures.
In comparison to my time in Nepal, this time, my physical flesh body was healthy … and it was my heart that felt nourished & fulfilled from the inside out.
When I go back & read the blog post about what the flowers in Divine Within catalyze, it’s super clear they were activated in my system—and in more ways than one, the day was a mirror to their qualities ...
Divine Within nourishes you on a level so deep that it unlocks unlimited stores of creativity. It wraps you in gentle, motherly love that allows you to make mistakes & gets you to stop being so hard on yourself. It magnifies a peaceful state of non-thought & opens your heart up to life. It fills your belly full with contentment & catalyzes self-fulfillment from the inside out.
Nourish your divine here.
Love & divine flowers,