WHY I MEDITATE : Anna Lee
Tell us about yourself! What are you all about?
At different times in my life I would have said different things. Right now I feel like I’ve come full circle, and I’m able to say that I am an artist that expresses herself through several different mediums. I make hats, I create paintings, I create collaborative projects, and I do product development and design for fashion accessories, so all of those things come together to be my body of work. What I’m focusing on this spring is creating one cohesive statement with all of these elements. It’s been both exciting and humbling, but it’s been giving me a solid look at how I’ve chosen to live my life with my creative work over the years.
What does your current meditation practice look like?
This has really evolved over time, but what meditation is for me now is really about showing up for myself everyday. I usually arrive at the studio, and I light a candle to set the intention in the space. I take some time to do some journaling, and I just get myself into a different headspace, almost like a cocoon. It’s sort of a moving meditation in a way. I’ve found the most productive thing for me is to shift my awareness into a space of creativity.
When I really get into the meditative space is when I create my art. I just go into a space and let go of all the things, and it becomes a trance in a way. It allows the energy to flow through me, it’s an incredible way to work through things without thinking about them.
For me, meditation is about first creating the structure and then creating the flow and letting things move. That’s really been cultivated over years of committing to something, years of realizing how things evolve. When I decided to leave my corporate job and start my own business, it became really important to me to be able to find a structure that worked for me everyday. It’s an evolving thing, but after four years working independently and committing more to my art, this is what I’ve ended up with.
When did you first start meditating?
I grew up in a pretty religious pentecostal home that was really big on prayer. I had a prayer language at the age of five, speaking in tongues. Looking back, that’s a little intense for a child, but it was the first time I went into a different space. I would not call it the first time I meditated, but I think it allowed me to later shift my awareness. When I was 18, I started doing Tai Chi and really started to feel energy. It intrigued me to be able to find a meditative calm space through movement and understanding energy. I started what people would think of meditation in my early 20s when I was looking for a bit more peace. In my 30s is when I started doing transcendental meditation and going deeper. Now in my 40s, I’m in a space where I realize I don’t have to follow anything in particular, that I can create this meditative space for myself and I find my creativity there.
What do you think brought you to these practices? Was it different at different stages in your life or was there a constant thread?
I’m a lifelong learner, but I’m always seeking more; seeking more from experience, and seeking a better understanding of myself. Now thru all this investigation over the years, trying different things, I’m able to embrace who I am. When things feel really intense, or I’m getting overwhelmed my an environment, I have a lot more grace -- I know I can always come back to my center. Sometimes that comes through really good conversation and having a friend you know, get it. It really helps brings me back to myself. I really see meditation, art, and friendship as a way to bring us back to ourselves and mirror who we are.
Four years ago you made a career shift into being an independent designer and artist. What were some challenges during that time, and what were some self-care practices to help you with that big shift?
I think I’ve been really investigating everything falling apart to rebuild. And that has been part of the places where I’ve felt on the edge of my sanity, on the edge of everything falling apart, and hitting the place, and going over it, and then realizing that this is all a part of it! Building piece by piece up from that space has become my creative process, so I’ve learned when things feel crazy, I have to come back to myself, and then just start building. There was a while when I would get a hunch about wanting to do this other thing, and I’d feel a bit guilty because I was changing things up again. I realized that this is a part of my creative process.
Working in self-care is so important because I used to run myself ragged. So for me one of the biggest elements of self-care, which is not usually on a check list, is to understand timing. It used to be if I had a hunch I’d go after it as soon as I could and try to make all these changes. Now I’m learning to trust my timing, and that helps take care of a lot of self-care. Instead of trying to make something happen in six months, I give myself two years. So now I’m in partnership with timing, instead of trying to control time. Recognizing how me, my creativity, and the universe are in partnership. And the way I look at the universe less about “The universe is trying to teach me something!” and it’s more about What have I set up for myself?, What are the cause and effects? What part do I own? At what point do I need to take a step back, take a bath, and then come back to the whole thing.
One of the ultimate pieces of self-care for me is water. Either I need drink it, to sit in it, or listen to it.
What does intuition look like for you?
Intuition is a sense that we all have. I’ve realized that the more honest and humble I can be with myself and less judging of what is happening, the more clear my intuition is for my highest self. I think many of us have had moments where I’ve followed my intuition and it led me down the wrong path towards the wrong person, wrong situation, but actually it’s the intuition guiding us to the places we are going to learn. For me, I’ve cultivated a relationship with my intuition where I have a hunch, and I’m going to ask more questions. If I think my intuition just said “Pay attention to this,” well cool, but that doesn’t mean that’s going to happen. It means I have to ask questions and get better answers, and this is where the partnership is created. To me, intuition is about a conversation.
Tell us about the Creative Guidance Sessions that you offer.
In the sessions, I’m bringing together the intuitive work that I’ve been doing along with drawing and coaching. During the sessions, I turn into a certain frequency, like turning on a radio station. I see my personal intuition as different than these intuitive readings. My intuition is for me, but when it comes to doing these readings and channeling info for others, it is about the role of my mediumship. It’s important to differentiate that I’m not picking up on this information until I tune in. The sessions start with a quick conversation, and then if they’re comfortable we pull a tarot card, and that sets the tone. Then I just start drawing. It looks different for everybody. Maybe I focus on a certain chakra or the overall sense of someone’s energy with a focus on their creative and artistic process. Mom issues, Dad issues, all those things, fears, cultural things we are holding on to all come up. Where people get nervous is like “Oh no you’re going to see things that I’m not ready to see!” But actually no; if someone wants to say something, but they are not ready to say it, what I see is something covering their fifth chakra, and we have a conversation about that. I’m not diagnosing exact things, it’s more about what are the things that hold us back and what are the things that we can bring to each part of the body to nurture our creative process. When we are in flow, it’s a full open chakra kind of thing, creativity is flowing through us and we feel so aligned. My goal is to help people get to that place where they understand where the blocks are so that they can create that flow. Everyone has blockages from time to time, but it’s about creating a conversation about that blockage so they can better have a conversation with themselves about it. When you know the things that trip you up, we can ask better questions to approach creativity from a more empowered place. I encourage people to draw on top of their drawing later when they get their own messages too. One thing I’m looking forward to doing is doing follow-up sessions with people and to see where things are growing and flowing.
Ultimately the two things that I have recognized are important to me are to create and to connect. If I can do those two things, then I’m happy. My goal is to help people find the things they want to bring to every creative process.