I spent this weekend at a Chi Running workshop. Running has been my exercise of choice for 8 years now, and I am always looking for ways to improve. Chi Running is a technique developed that focuses on using good alignment (posture) and relaxing your body to prevent injury and run more efficiently.
I try not to write about running too much; if I wrote about it as much as I wanted to, I’m sure I’d become very boring very quickly! I am continually seeing parallels to watercolour in my experience of growing as a runner. The benefits of training, persistence and achievement, the idea of making personal goals instead of comparing to others; all of these fit both running and painting (and life!).
Frosty winter runs can get a little…brisk!
One thing Angela James, Chi Running Master instructor, shared this week really resonated with me deeply, and I saved it in my heart to share with you.
Be mindful. You don’t choose mastery; you choose to create the conditions for change to occur.
Learning Chi Running involves making changes that don’t happen overnight; it’s a journey. (sound familiar?)
I won’t become a better runner if I take a workshop but then never put on my shoes to run again. Implementing changes doesn’t happen overnight – if I am anxiously trying to remember and implement five or six “rules” for running, I’m not relaxing. Chi Running is based on relaxation, it’s a gentle, gradual change from where I am now to where I want to be.
Watercolour is the same way. Can I force my painting to improve? Can I muscle my will into better self-expression?
Painting expressively and intuitively in watercolour (always my goal) comes through mindfulness (paying attention to what is happening on the paper, and what I am feeling in my heart). Growing skill in watercolour doesn’t happen at a pace I get to set, however I can create the conditions for growth to occur by painting often, allowing mistakes to teach me, experimenting with different techniques, styles and subjects.
With a “Chi Painting” approach, I recognize the need for patience, I relax into my current situation and let the journey teach me.