Awakening Arts according to Shamini Naidu

Spiritual art in a conscious way

We sat down with Shamini to get to learn about how she express and developed conscious art, as well as her advice to the many who are part of this growing art form.

1. What is your background and story?

Hello! I’m Shamini - an artist, graphic designer, and facilitator, and I hope to share practical tools to increase creativity that can be applied in daily life. As a certified ‘Transformative Artist’ from the Awakening Arts Academy in Italy, where I understood more deeply the power and benefit of the creative process, I have facilitated workshops in India and abroad using art and yoga as healing tools to help people connect with their inner lives and find their own unique solutions. I deeply believe that awakening the creativity within us can open our minds and enrich our lives. 

Many people have shared with me that they really want to do some art or explore creativity, but they just don’t know where to begin or have had so many huge blocks or fears against it since they were kids. I’ve been there too. Maybe not with art, but definitely with other things in life. And I’ve realised that the truth is, we just have to have the courage to try… to get going – just start with little things and you will open a whole doorway – and perhaps gain insight into yourself that you may have been so desperately seeking! I believe art is for everyone. Literally. everyone. In times of frustration, loneliness, void, yes sometimes desperation – art has become my friend – and allowed me to tap into places within me that I didn’t know how to reach – and to express from there! It’s been a perfect mirror in times when I needed one. It’s been a vehicle to become my own companion! And it’s given me a chance to tap into the creative source, to attempt to tune into something higher than myself and ask that I be an instrument for that flow of consciousness. I explore this through my personal art process. And that’s what I hope to share with you everyone through my work. I founded and set up Joyful Aspiration as an avenue to offer a few tools and suggestions to help people get started with creating art as a medium to bring higher inspiration into their lives.


2. What was your conscious aspiration to work with your creativity?

A few years ago, as I finished my Master’s Degree, I was going through a phase of wondering whether there might be more to life than just entering a corporate career (which I was getting into like all my peers) and to just dive into a life of busyness. Something in me was saying there’s just got to be more than this! And through all that I came across my spiritual path and family at Ananda Sangha and had the blessing to connect with Swami Kriyananda. With his friendship and guidance, I was completely sold on the thought that there is something more to live for. We can live life to our fullest potential, in communion with something higher within us. There’s a way to live a more fulfilled life and share that with others. Shortly after, I was completely sold on this idea, and I moved into our community in Ananda Pune, India, where all my friends were doing exactly this: living by higher ideals, always trying to include others happiness in their own, living a life of service to God and therefore to humanity. It was a beautiful experience where I saw first-hand examples of how through all the difficulties we face in life one can develop the ability to think of others first rather than ourselves. And I started to see the joy and freedom of spirit that comes from living this way!

There were moments of loneliness though – it wasn’t all easy and joyful all the time. The difficulties were mostly due to the harsh realities one finally saw in oneself and had to accept and work with honestly, sincerely, and one step at a time. The usual distractions to escape from myself {such as through television, going out with friends, loud music} were removed from my life. I had chosen to work on myself. And at the end of the day, when I returned to my tiny cottage in the woods where I stayed alone, it was just myself that I had to face, to learn to be with, enjoy the company of, and befriend. And there were tendencies that came through – some harder to accept than others. At times this was very difficult. Granted that I had wonderful company around me who helped me keep going and were living examples for me and working on themselves in similar ways, we still each had to make our own individual effort! This is when I decided to buy some paints, sheets of paper, and canvas, and I dove into art as a way to make friends with this process. There were many inspiring thoughts, songs, lyrics, chants, and ideas that I was bathing in the entire day, and art became a way for me to process them, to make them my own and most importantly to have fun in a higher way! I started to learn a priceless lesson – to truly enjoy my own company.

Now with regard to art, I don’t have official fine art training – it’s been mostly self-taught and self-discovered. An interesting incident occurred when a guest who visited our retreat found out that I paint. She asked to see my work and she saw connected with one piece that struck a chord in her and asked for a print of that work. Perhaps because I was diving deep into my soul and trying to portray from that point of origin, it touched something in her in and brought out some inspiration in her. This was when I realized the transforming power that art and creative activities can have when expressed from deep within.

Since then, I had the opportunity to spend an entire summer [2016] in our Ananda community in Assisi, Italy, where another dear friend, Dana Lynne Andersen, has started an Art Academy as a way to enable people to discover the transformative power of the arts. Bathing in her approach for  three months helped me find my own unique expression, which was trying to come forth over the last years but now finally received a boost of energy! I then returned to India, and I have been sharing my process through these workshops, courses, blogs, and artwork on exploring something that I hope to make a huge part of my life – to learn how to take the inspiration I feel inside and express it creatively. This is the example Swami Kriyananda set for us through his life – he composed over 400 pieces of music, wrote over 150 books, founded communities, worked with each individual in a unique way, he was ever fresh in his approach to life – he really did live life to his fullest, and he hoped people would take inspiration from how he did it and try to do it in their own way.

So that’s a little of the background story to Joyful Aspiration and this work – which has been created with the hope to share ways in which we can all live creatively from inner inspiration, and as we try to do so, our lives become so much more enriched and we begin to grow as instruments of a higher potential in us!



3. What makes you keep going with your work?

It always thrills me to see the change in people’s faces the moment they have a chance to loosen up and express some color on a blank page. And giving them an uplifting outlet to do this makes the whole process so satisfying!

I delight at how artistic expression is such a brilliant way to understand where we stand right now in this present moment. To understand ourselves more deeply through the colors, forms, words that express through us. And because it is not necessarily a logical process, we get to joyfully explore certain intuitions and messages from the soul that are always trying to guide us and help us move forward in harmony with the bigger picture around us.


4. How has your creativity developed over time?

The process of a painting can teach us so much about the way we approach life. It helped me in my introspection to break down my most recent painting process and I wanted to share insights with you that you may find interesting.

As a child, many people would tell me what a great talent I have for art, and somehow I would take it for granted. So I can make a pretty painting, or copy a drawing… so what? As I have started developing my own inside-out approach to art now, the way I usually put a painting together is by working with a clear thought/ idea that I would like to convey through a painting.

I’d like to share an example through this particular painting, which took me almost a year, and this time time I wanted to enhance the pathway leading towards some sort of light. (The trees around could be mysterious but certainly not the focus as I didn’t want it to be a distraction). After many attempts as you see in the pictures (image attached as "painting process"), these are a few lessons I learned along the way:

·         Building up momentum: Picking up a work that’s been lying around for months and getting the energy moving again can be really hard. It’s tough to get into a flow again and re-inspire, and direct the energy. It’s so much easier to start something new! But how often in life we have to finish something in order to create space for the new, right?!

·         Setting unrealistic timelines: I was like ‘I have to finish this TODAY’ – and then ended up sitting at it for 10 hours at a go… (which of course completely energizes and feeds me)… but it didn’t feel done at the end of the 10 hours!!! Which led to…

·         Frustration: So having set this unrealistic expectation I was disappointed and not satisfied with the effort (no need to say more here)

·         Becoming tense: I noticed myself becoming more and more tense as the day was ending. The more I tensed, the less inspiration was able to flow through into my painting, and the more I blocked any space for surprise and creative lessons to flow through – “where’s my final product?!"

·         Taking a step back: It took some willpower and patience to step back a little and make some space, shift the perspective (something obvious to the creative process, but I had to exert will to do so this time) So I stopped for the day.

·         Learning to Relax: The next day, I sat for a few hours without these expectations and just threw myself into one step at a time that kept calling my attention… like – add some yellow here … now some lighter blues, now highlight this… things like that… and just paid attention to the process that was emerging. Patiently, but with complete relaxed attention

·         Finishing up: Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a work is done – if you truly gave it everything and feel complete in yourself. This was the case with this piece. The final morning I walked by the painting and followed the clear thought (without questioning it) – to pick up my gold and highlight certain parts of the work. That immediately brought it more to life and it was the missing link I needed. It didn’t take very long at all, and it was the perfect finish, I felt compete. Maybe it just takes stepping back a little and checking in, trusting that little inner voice that knows what needs to happen. And then everything falls into place!


The main thing I’ve been realizing through this approach is the priceless feeling of stepping back, trusting myself to finish it, and allowing the space within me for a higher guidance to flow through (rather than trying to do it all myself which only brings more tension and stress). The interesting side note is that this has also been how I approach things in my life these days. And this process perfectly highlighted the aspects I need to work on and gave me insights to work with!



5. If you could give advice to young artists, what would it be?

In a world that seems to get smaller and smaller with social media, technology, and other means to stay in touch, we seem to be getting more and more isolated! We’re all looking for deeper connections – we want to build them with people in our lives, in our relationships, to our work… but maybe at times we don’t know how to begin.

The truth is if we start with connecting within, then somehow everything else seems to work out just fine. This is one way this self-discovery, inside-out approach to art can help you with by helping each of us form a connection to:

1.       Yourself: It begins with each of us – connect within first and everything else will follow. I decided to give this a shot… and at times it was great, at times it was isolating and lonely – and that’s when I found refuge in art! Ah! An insight into the depths of what’s going on deep within me – an inlet to my soul!

2.       The colors/ shapes/ patterns (& other elements) you use: by allowing yourself to trust your inner guidance with what colors wants to express through you, we begin to work with ourselves in an authentic way. Finally no demands on how something should be, or people telling you what it needs to look like – the answer and the next step forward comes from you.

3.       The canvas/ paper used/ subject of your inspiration: by not approaching a blank sheet as a challenge, rather befriending it, we learn to form a connection to it, allow it to guide us in our process and to come alive for each of us!

4.       People around you: when you’re working with yourself, and taking responsibility for the kind of energy you put out, your relationships in your life automatically begin to flourish. Art can help with this by providing an authentic outlet for what you may be going through, to help you process something, to see things in yourself.

5.       To the creative source/ your higher potential: When we connect with our own point of origin, the creative source in us, anything we express is going to reflect that spirit and it will be alive and 100% original! Then, not one piece of art is the same, there’s no way it can be… no two versions of a flower… or say a mountain when expressed from the inside will look the same! Ever! “Art should help people rise on the level of their soul” – and this is something I’d like to explore with you too! Art has definitely been a medium for me to tap into higher inspiration, to the things that really inspire me. And then we begin to see unique solutions to life’s situations!

 Most people share that giving art a chance in this way helped to dissolve mental blocks of “perfection” which they have had for years! Also, many share that they were able to touch qualities in themselves which they never knew they had in them!  We’re all looking to feel more connected in life and art can help with this beautifully!