Lifting – Movement Towards a Vision

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” – John F. Kennedy

In creating a piece of pottery, once you have weighed and wedged, centered and grounded and opened your lump of clay, you are ready to begin the processes called lifting.
The first lift can be done directly in front of your body. Take the first finger and thumb of your left hand and grab onto the clay at the base – touching the wheel head. The right hand holds onto a sponge and pushes up against the left hand. The sponge can be wrapped around the top of the clay to help support the top. The first finger and thumb of your left hand squeeze. Don’t squeeze with just your fingertips but use the whole first third of your finger.
At this point a choice must be made.  Because different forms require different lifting techniques, you can’t proceed until you have a clear sense of what you want to make.  As you squeeze or compress the clay you simultaneously move the clay up either into a volcano shape or a flower pot shape depending on the form being created.

The same is true in life.  We must have a vision of what we want before we can move toward making it manifest.

“In order to carry out a positive action we must develop a positive vision.” – Dalai Lama

Vision is essential!  It is said that that which we can conceive we can achieve.  It’s important to know though that ‘vision’ doesn’t have to be visual. We have several perceptual ways to hold a vision.
Sometimes we have a thought that is so clear and complete that we feel we’re being told to do
something. We may hear the melody and/or words of song that are stuck in our head and seeming to give us a message. Sometimes it’s a strong feeling that’s compelling us to make something happen. Or, it can be a simple ‘knowing’ what’s up for us.  A vision may come to us in a dream. And then, we can
sometimes want something so bad that we can ‘taste’ it!  A vision can come in a flash, or be something that’s been with us since childhood.

Yet no matter how compelling a vision, like a blossom, it can also die on the vine before blooming. That can leave us with a feeling of sadness, loss, and lack of fulfillment that can cast a pall over our lives. This can affect every aspect of our being, and over time can make us angry and depressed.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

So what to do? Take action!  We must move off the couch, be brave, step out of our rut, and move. 

Movement, however small, creates a shift.  Then we must set about bringing our vision into form! Once we’ve taken our vision into action though, we must take charge of it, and be patient.

In making a piece of pottery, the second lift and all subsequent lifts are done on the right side. Lean your body to the right, elbow tucked into your hip. Now your left hand goes inside the open clay and your right hand stay outside. Lifting takes the most finesse and requires a lot of attention to the pressure you use. If you push too much the clay will rip, if you don’t push enough the clay won’t respond or move. Position your hands (left inside, right outside) fingertips facing each other.  The inside hand pushes the clay out to the outside hand and the outside hand lifts the clay upward.

In life, this period is much like the time when we dreamed of having a driver’s license.  We had pictured ourselves behind the wheel, cruising down the highway with the music playing.  The reality though may have been quite different.  Maybe the grinding of gears, jerky stops and starts, and fear of leaving the on ramp to merge with the speeding vehicles was overwhelming. In order to be in charge of a powerful vehicle without causing accidental damage we had to be patient and accept the fact that it was going to be some time before our vision was a reality.  Then step by step, paying attention to details, we began to hone our skills behind the wheel, until eventually driving became second nature.
It’s like that with that any of our visions.

“An object in motion tends to remain in motion along a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.” – Isaac Newton

Since thoughts are effectively things – quantum physics teaches us that our thoughts are vibrations of energy that can influence what happens to us – we have to learn to take charge of our powerful thoughts and visions!  We can’t allow ourselves to indulge negative thoughts and feelings, since they act like that outside force and will certainly short circuit our visions.  Instead, we want to lift our thoughts, feelings and visions.  We must pay close attention to that vision, take charge of forming it, and patiently, act by act move toward making it a reality.  Once a vision has been activated, it will remain on track until we have either derailed it, or made it manifest.

“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind.
Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” – Bob Marley

After completing the lifts of your pottery form, compress the lip or opening of the pot to re-center and strengthen it. Lift again after assessing where the thickest part is. Compress the clay in at the bottom until you have the width of the bottom you desire.

Similarly in our lives, we must guide the manifesting vision to make it viable.  It’s important to make sure to fine tune as we go, repeatedly adjusting our course to stay on track.  As we approach the critical final stages in completing the project, extra vigilance is necessary.  A hexagram in the ancient Chinese Oracle, the I Ching, warns us that once we have arrived at the mountain peak, the skills that we have acquired during our climb become less relevant.  A whole new set of skills is required to descend the mountain successfully!

The concept and practice of Lifting is so relevant to us right now.  As winter continues to delay
spring’s arrival we need to lift our spirits!  The religious celebrations of Passover and Easter this week remind us of miracles associated with lifting. According the beliefs of the faithful, when the Angel of Death was lifted up and passed over the homes of the Jews, their first-born children were saved, and after Jesus died on the cross, he rose and was lifted up to heaven.

When we remember to lift our expectations and let our spirits and visions soar, new worlds of possibilities open to us!  We have to remind ourselves over and over again though.  Just the experience of working with clay, and practicing the skills it takes to form a bowl, a mug or a vase allows us to actually embody these inclinations.

Join us at Clay Alchemy from The Voice of Clay and experience the joy of manifesting a vision!

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” –   Woodrow Wilson

shannon Burke