I just returned from my yearly pilgrimage to the red rock mesas of the Southwest where I teach TWO wild heart painting retreats at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in New Mexico.

And like most of my retreats there is a theme that spontaneously develops among the participants in the painting tribe that is something I can never plan for.

This year the theme had to do with the experience of embracing chaos.

Chaos is one of those energies that is scary for a lot of folks. When chaos shows up in a painting or in your life it’s always an invitation … or more often a push off of the cliff… into letting go of control.

Chaos means things are going to change. Often radically. And that you will be thrown into a place of uncertainty. Chaos is likely to be messy. And unsettling.

And especially for those of us that come from family backgrounds where chaos was repeatedly linked with pain and trauma it doesn’t ever seem to have an upside.

Chaos is an essential element of the creative process and is meant to shake things up when we’ve gotten too set in our ways and we need a new perspective. Chaos can actually be kind of fun and exciting when we feel stifled or bored or stuck in a rut.

Chaos is always a portal into the mystery because it’s about throwing everything familiar and predictable up into the air, not knowing where the pieces are going to land once the whirlwind of change has finished its journey through your painting OR your life.
So the courageous question my students kept asking themselves at the retreat was “How do I MEET chaos when it shows up and allow it to move through me instead of trying to rigidly brace myself in an attempt to fend it off?”

Even when it’s uncomfortable and even frightening.

I know that many of us are having significant experiences of personal upheaval in our lives. And the world in general feels particularly unstable. Chaos reigns and is an essential part of the larger changes that are afoot as we birth a new world together.

So opening to that chaos energy when it arises and allowing it to be expressed through our art is a great way to ride the wave instead of being simply tossed around by it.

Saying YES to chaos instead of trying to hide from it or pretend it’s not happening is actually a way to empower yourself. Chaos is a part of life and is not going away. And it’s not even necessarily a BAD thing. What makes it harder is if we fight it or think it’s not supposed to be there to begin with.

Compassion means being open to EVERYTHING from a place of love and curiosity and that includes chaos.

So next time chaos enters YOUR world, see if you can practice being available to its potential gifts and guidance. Breaking down often leads to breaking through. And the energy of chaos is a necessary part of that breakthrough process.