Lidia Kenig-Scher painted while Jim Flavin played various instruments. Here, Jim improvises on the didgeridoo while below it singing bowls respond sympathetically.
In April and May of 2019, four of us worked on a project to capture footage of creative tea and dialogue while a painting emerged in response to “the unending sea of blessings,” a Japanese scroll saying. The plan was to display that painting in my tea hut for a later tea and spoken dialogue session…
This edited creative tea and dialogue video provides a sense for what occurred over the three sessions of collaborative music and painting including selected spoken reactions and discussions as the process evolved. We had previously discussed and practiced Gregory Kramer’s Insight Dialogue guidelines – Pause, Relax, Open, Attune to Emergence (previously Trust Emergence), Listen Deeply and Speak the Truth. These guidelines are referred to in remarks at various points in the video.
After we shared tea in her living room, Lidia Kenig-Scher worked in her studio as Jim Flavin played a variety of instruments in the next room and videographer, Jeff Klein, captured the action. The materials, tools, and effort involved lent a grounded, down to earth quality to this multimedia dialogue. The video shows how the rhythms and the feeling of the music influenced Lidia’s brush strokes. Jim mentioned feeling a connection even though he could not see the painting.
The tea we drank at the start of the second session had four ingredients. Since there were also four of us, that seemed a great metaphor for our communal awareness that retained what we each contributed to the blend.
The video shows a particularly vivid example of the stages described by Mitchell Kossak in Attunement in Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward an Understanding of Embodied Empathy where periods of seeking safety and risk taking ultimately result in an experience of the universal. Lidia had put up a quote about the wisdom of trusting emergence rather than forcing things on her studio wall some time ago. Jeff trained his camera on that quote and his comment about how well that quote expressed what happened the previous day is included in the video soundtrack.
After the doubt, empathic support, and effortless expansive creative flow, the completion of the painting recognized by a hug, felt particularly powerful. That hug also symbolized the closeness the practice supported. I could not help but be grateful that we were capturing all that on video.
I am glad we discussed our common belief that creativity is not just for professional artists. Nor is it just for the young. Contrary to what younger people might believe, older adults can actually experience reduced anxiety and increased life satisfaction; they may no longer care as much about what others think about them, bringing a new and most welcome sense of freedom that supports creativity. In fact older adults bring a number of gifts to tea and dialogue practice. Creative tea and dialogue is certainly not just for professionals as this joyous example shows.
I am most grateful for the generosity of these talented artists:
Jim Flavin is a musician and certified practitioner and teacher of Jikiden Reiki. He collects percussion instruments from all over the world and shares them with others in the drum circles he leads. His work as a contractor provides many opportunities for the practical application of mindfulness. He believes in spreading unconditional love through expressing respect, kindness and honesty in all relationships.
Lidia Kenig-Scher is an award-winning mixed media artist and transformational catalyst. Her intuitively conceived works are installed in the interiors of successful homeowners and entrepreneurs, many of whom claim that the art emits a vibration capable of positively affecting their lives and the spaces where the art is installed. This highly decorated interior designer and Feng Shui master also teaches people to “paint from the heart,” a meditation-based technique grounded in more than 40 years of Buddhist practices and intense spiritual work. Lidia notes that her artworks invite personal growth because she too starts by opening her heart and trusting her brush to paint the truth.
Jeffrey Klein is a bilingual videographer with a 25-year career in multi-media production in Japan and the United States including podcasts and videos intended for retail, business, entertainment and educational contexts. Samples of his work are available at his website.