Courageous Love

Sensibility, a process painting by Jenny Hahn
“Sensibility”, a process painting by Jenny Hahn

Love is not just a feeling.

It’s also a state of being. An intention. And one that can be cultivated regardless of what’s going on on the outside.

Attention. Openness. Acceptance. Curiosity.

Are these not forms of love?

Rather than the manufactured shiny red plastic Valentine’s love that is supposed to look a certain way—and, as it turns out, can be quite shallow and hollow—I’m talking about a love that’s able to embrace the grittiness of life. It’s able to embrace our experience of the present moment exactly as it is.

This kind of love is not a memory of the past or a fantasy of the future…it is the aliveness and texture and flavor of the timeless NOW, and can only be experienced NOW. This moment is always rich and full, regardless of the content of this moment.

This kind of love is not dependent on feeling good. In fact, we can feel like shit and still feel the embrace of love. Things don’t have to be pretty or pleasant. We can be messy, irritable, bored, lonely, or in pain. And all we have to do is to get curious about whatever it is. Bring awareness to the experience. And hold it lightly with compassion and acceptance. And then we can zoom out and see that the entire feeling of said shittiness is actually floating in a sea of acceptance and love.

Courageous love.

This love is unconditional. Independent of conditions. It’s not fickle. It doesn’t judge. It sees with eyes of acceptance and embraces it all. It also is not dependent on people or accomplishments. Let me repeat: Not dependent on people or accomplishments! It does not have to be earned. (This is a tough one, at least for me.) It’s easy to project our love onto others that believe that they’re the source of our love. But in actuality, they are a reflection of it.

This love is the natural state of our own deep awareness. Therefore, it comes from within. In fact, you could say that it doesn’t come from anywhere… it’s who we are. So there need not be any striving or wishing or longing–it’s already here now. It is the unconditional tenderness of the awakened heart. Your heart.

So whatever it is that you’re experiencing right now, give it attention. Open to what it has to say. Accept it as it is. Explore it with playful curiosity. See it and know it. Embrace it. Fully.

We are cultivating a new kind of love.

Click to view work from the Celebrations of Love collection >

Sensibility, a process painting by Jenny Hahn

The senses are awakened in this figurative process painting that poetically captures the act of smelling a flower: the intimate yet simple experience of olfactory arousal, pure present-moment awareness, and the union and connection between self and the surrounding world.

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Moonrise Gratitude

Moonrise, by Jenny Hahn

“May the gratitude in my heart kiss all the universe.” —Hafiz

Ahhh… the the sight of the full moon rising–especially when it’s low on the horizon in glowing golden hues–is one that inspires wonder and brings gratitude to my heart. I’ve always been in love with the moon and all of her mystery.

I just recently completed this painting “Moonrise” as a commission. The moon is believed to represent feminine energy, cycles of life, renewal, and illumination. In this painting, a glowing celestial body rises with symmetry amidst trees and twilight hues of purple and fuchsia. The colors of dusk bring a softness and whimsy, with twinkling stars shining in the distance. My hope is that when you view this painting you feel an inner calm that evokes stillness. And perhaps a sense of wonder and acceptance of the unanswered mysteries in life.

Whenever you look into the night sky, may you experience gratitude in your heart and beauty in all your surroundings.

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The Story of “Becoming”

An inside look at a painting that reflects life’s transformations

Jenny with painting "Becoming"

‘Becoming’ is a process of growth… of coming into being. It is more than a superficial word of flattery (that suit is very ‘becoming’ on you…) It is a recognition of something new being born. Often the process of becoming is slow and is not without pain or loss… we must let go of what we were in order to become who we are becoming.

I recently completed a commissioned piece for a dear friend who has been a long-time supporter. As I worked on the painting and allowed the image to unfold in a very slow and deliberate way, it was as if I were intently listening to a subtle voice who was giving me clues about this friend’s soul direction. He and I had talked previously and I took notes about his life path. I learned about his difficult childhood in which he was bullied for his lack of confidence, and how he grew up in a place that couldn’t fully accept his for who he was. I learned how, many years later, he found teachings that made more sense to him and how in recent years he has been called to walk the path toward leadership–serving and making a difference for others.

From fear and shame to courage and commitment, this friend is living a transformed life. In his words: “The moment I say yes, I allow transformation. It happens in an instant.” He shared with me how he’ll take anything on now. On the court of life he is playing the game full out.

In this painting, the themes of life and transformation shine boldly in vibrant hues of orange and golden pink. What was previously held down now bursts forth with vitality in a supported way. Whatever darkness was previously holding us back can become the launching pad when the time is right. But it’s a process.

Process pics

As the painting morphed and changed along the way, the following phrases popped up for me at various stages and I jotted them down…

  • A seed
  • A diamond in the rough
  • A sweet boy
  • A tulip on fire
  • Taking flight
  • Rising & blooming
  • Bloom of becoming
  • Transformed
"Becoming", by Jenny Hahn

Prints of this piece are now available!
(Multiple media options and wall preview tool available)

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Tips for Self-Care

As a process painting workshop facilitator, I teach others how to use painting as a tool for mindfulness and self-discovery. The process arts can be a great platform for showing up to ourselves and creating space for the difficulties in life. But beyond the workshop setting, how can we show up to our most authentic selves in our day to day lives? Here are some suggestions of mindful and creative ways to take care of yourself.

  • Create a ritual. We all need quiet time in our lives for connecting with our inner spirit. What could you do each day to create a meaningful routine? Perhaps you have an altar where you can light a candle and set your intention for the day.
  • Breathe with your belly. When we’re stressed our breath can get shallow. Begin to breathe from your belly by relaxing your shoulders, lengthening your spine, deepening your breath, and allowing your belly to rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Keep your eyes closed with your hand on your belly.
  • Step into nature. Nature is healing. Your nature time can be as simple as walking around the block and noticing the vastness of the sky. It can be time spent sitting under a tree. Or it can be a visit to the nearest park.
  • Take time to play. What did you love as a kid, climbing jungle gyms? Coloring with crayons? Playing dress up? Give yourself an afternoon or even just an hour to play with childlike wonder and curiosity.
  • Prepare your favorite foods. Cook yourself a meal (or order out) and sit down to really enjoy the food, eating slowly and mindfully, savoring each bite and feeling nourished.
  • Love your body. Your body is a vehicle for your spirit and it deserves to be nurtured and loved exactly as it is. This can include sensual self-loving, dancing, yoga stretching, getting massages, taking warm baths, eating well, and affirming love every time you look in the mirror.
  • Enjoy naps. It’s okay to take a break from the world and hit the reset button with some well deserved sleep. Wrap yourself in a comfy cocoon of blankets and pillows. You can even use a scented eye pillow. Breathe deeply. Consciously relax. Let go.
  • Write your heart out. Writing can help you get your thoughts and feelings onto paper. Your journal can also be an art journal– containing sketches, scribbles, doodles, cut-out images, and anything that makes your heart smile. Begin by answering the phrase “Right now I feel…”
  • Express creatively. Sing your emotions, paint them, or dance them. There are countless ways to express yourself and you don’t have to be an artist to do so. You are a creative being, so give yourself the space to express, whether it’s in a sketchbook or on a canvas in the corner of your room or with a camera or with your vocal chords.
  • Use gentle self-talk. Start paying attention to how you talk to yourself and notice if your self-talk becomes abusive. Imagine that you are talking to a child whom you love dearly. If necessary, write out some affirmations for yourself that you can put in a visible place, such as “I am a beautiful being worthy of love.”
  • Ask for support. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s the time to seek help from the support systems in your life. Call your therapist (or find one), join a support group, or attend a workshop. It’s helpful to keep a list of friends or professionals you in your journal or in a nearby place that you can call when you feel disconnected. Know that you are not alone.