Edy Pickens Levin + Chakra Painting Workshops
Edy Pickens Levin has over 20 years of experience teaching art in the West Los Angeles area.
To assist her own meditation journey, she began painting lotuses as she focused her energy on a particular chakra and its energy source. She is currently offering painting workshops to coach others through their own meditation-through-art experience.
There are many parallels between the painting process and the path of transcendence through meditation. To many, a blank canvas can feel overwhelming, with each paint stroke drawing inner criticism and self-doubt. As an artist is born, it is not necessarily the shapes on the page that become more skillfully drawn, as it is that the artist becomes more confident and accepting of the shapes as they manifest before her.
Edy shares her story here, and welcomes any and all to find restorative strength through her Chakra Painting Workshop, starting in April 2018.
What can you share about your experiences as a painter?
I feel called to share my most recent experience as a painter--this chakra healing path that I can access and enhance with the process of painting.
Painting has always been an inward journey. It exposes great joy and at the same time, deep suffering. What I am learning now is that the best teachers can be pain and suffering themselves. I am still learning and evolving the methods I use to deal with pain. I know a lot about how to mix colors and apply them to canvas or paper. It’s pretty easy for me to simulate the illusion of light with paint and brush. I can share this knowledge and consider myself an expert in it. However, I am just now grasping how to use the painting process as a metaphor for living a more mindful existence. I’m excited to share that experience through my workshops, even though I am far from an expert!
Painting is a teacher of self-acceptance, if anything, and I’d like to further reveal it as such.
What brought you to your chakra journey?
I became fascinated by chakras and auras upon my first visit to Thunderbolt Spiritual Books in Santa Monica back in the summer of 1999 when I moved to LA. I picked up Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith and I was blown away by the possibility that there could be a whole rainbow living and spinning inside of me, influencing my entire way of being in the world.
Since I’m originally from South Carolina and had a southern Christian upbringing, I had never been exposed to many other philosophies or spiritual practices. At the time, I gobbled up the text, but I did not fully immerse myself in chakra work. The book eventually sat on the shelf and I went about my life with my chakras tilting out of balance in my peripheral.
Fast-forward about 15 years to the end of 2014 when I gave birth to my daughter. Giving birth and taking on the Epic Mother role (in addition to the equally Epic Wife role I assumed in 2011) brought up a whole bunch of nuanced emotions for me, as it does for most women.
Slowly and methodically, I have been sifting through my life to find a way to heal from so many experiences that have meant to be teachings, but from which I’ve only learned half-lessons and remained in pain. I had been suffering and closing down little by little each minute of each day, and it was now taking a toll on my relationships. I knew I had to find a way to open up so that I would not fall apart and lose myself completely.
I began journaling like crazy and asking my higher power to show me a path to being whole, healed, and creative. In the summer of 2017, I visited a different bookstore: Pendragon Books in Oakland, CA. I found The Book of Chakra Healing by Liz Simpson. Again, I was struck by the vibrant colors and the epic healing power of chakras. I began to explore them again, this time using Simpson’s approach--guided meditations, yoga, being open to crystals, essential oils, archetypes, and assembling altars.
That’s when I began painting lotuses. I learned from an online source that, in Hinduism, the chakra is also referred to as a lotus flower because the lotus is a synonym for vortex or wheel.
I immediately decided to begin an orange lotus painting to represent the Sacral Chakra, which is the chakra I identified as my most imbalanced. Over the next few months, I progressed through all 7 chakras, painting glowing lotuses as I worked through my issues, exploring and exposing imbalances and opening to the process of self-healing. I documented each step of my paintings, jotting down the physical painting steps, alongside the emotional blocks and body sensations I had throughout. I continue to use the paintings as meditation props during my morning sessions. Around November or December, I started a closed Facebook group where I post snippets of guided meditations, inspirations, and some parts of my journey.
What prompted you to begin a workshop series, rather than retain this as a private experience?
Teaching seems to be encoded in my soul. I feel called to do it and I find joy in breaking down tasks into steps so that I can communicate skills to others. It feels very natural to learn from my own journey and pass that knowledge to others.
What can you share about your experiences as a painting teacher?
In my twenty years teaching, I’m just now starting to truly understand that the students are my teachers as much as I am theirs. Lately, I’m most struck by the tears I see on a daily basis--Kindergarteners who are devastated that they are not perfect. The inability of students to accept art-making as a joyful process-- is definitely right in my face. I refuse to perpetuate that type of BS anymore, so, I recognize that it starts with me. I have to dive in and get real--if I can’t accept myself and enjoy the process, then I can’t teach others to do the same. So, I’m driven to heal and accept myself and my process as part of my teaching initiative.
What are some differences between teaching children and adults?
There aren’t that many differences between teaching adults and teaching children, as far as the inward journey, we are all the same. We spiral down and shut down for the same reasons-- because of bogus stories we tell ourselves and the thoughts and feelings we associate with those falsities. When I tell adults what I do, they usually say something like, “I can’t draw a straight line,” or “I don’t have an artistic gene in my body.” They make all kinds of judgements about their abilities, usually disparaging. I think the journey is the same for all ages. The big emotions and creative challenges pop up regardless. It’s how we deal with them that count.
What books, podcasts or other tools do you refer to for meditation guidance?
I seem to acquire a new book every week now. I spend a lot of time in the car here in LA, so Audible has become my friend. I just finished listening to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It was so mind blowing to me, I had to listen to it three times. It is a powerful, life-changer of a book. Other books that have guided me toward a more mindful existence are: Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and You are a Badass at Making Money, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m in the middle of reading Loving What Is by Byron Katie, which is transforming my life, to say the least.
A friend recently gave me a subscription to Headspace, an app that helps with meditation. There’s also free guided meditations offered by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. I mostly do body scans at night to prepare for sleep, or if I wake up and can’t get my mind to quiet. I also just started to read Anodea Judith’s Eastern Body Western Mind. I think that one will really solidify my understanding of chakras.
What are other artistic mediums that you practice?
I have been known to pick up the fiddle, guitar, or sit down at the piano. I also love to sing. I learned to sew a few years ago and that makes me very happy as well. Writing poetry is another pastime that often resurfaces.
What are the details for the workshop?
The Chakra Healing Paint Night Series includes four workshops at My Creative Outlet in Chatsworth during the month of April, corresponding to the sevenfold chakra system.
Each two hour workshop involves a combination of guided meditation, affirmations, painting, and personal reflection. I provide step-by-step instruction on how to paint a glowing lotus that represents one of the seven chakras.
Each student finishes a session with a completed painting of a lotus. They will also gain experience with chakras, guided meditation, creating affirmations, and painting with acrylics.
The classes have no prerequisites and require no previous experience. Participants can choose to attend as little as one or all four classes within the series. An individual need not attend all of the classes to receive the benefits of chakra healing, though they may find it valuable to attend all four.
The classes will take place every Saturday evening in April from 6:30-8:30pm at My Creative Outlet in Chatsworth.
Where can people check out your work?
You can see my work at www.edypickenslevin.com. You can see the Facebook Workshop Page, or visit My Creative Outlet to register for the workshops. You can follow along in my chakra healing journey on my closed Facebook group.
What do you dream of?
More mindfulness and appreciation for the teachers inside of ourselves. and Peace.
~ ~ ~
To be a Freedom-to-Dream Ambassador means that you face risks and tough challenges to improving your life and to acting on your dreams. To be able to experience wanderlust, to act on our liberties, to utilize our personal mobility throughout our society and culture-- to dream of a better life and to act with our own free will-- these experiences are unavailable to many millions of people around the world.
Ambassadors are helping bring awareness to The Freedom Story, a non-profit organization that seeks to prevent child trafficking in Northern Thailand by expanding the scope of freedom and opportunity for those at-risk. For every Freedom-to-Dream DIY Dreamcatcher Kit sold, $20 will go directly to The Freedom Story and its programming.
I want everyone in this world to have the Freedom to Dream.