Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna. I’m the founder and Executive Director for Mind Oasis, and with me today is the beautiful Kathy Leader. Kathy, how are you?
Kathy: I’m great, thank you. How are you?
Karuna: Doing well. Where in the world are you?
Kathy: I’m in beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara, California.
Karuna: I betcha it’s really nice.
Kathy: It’s really gorgeous. I just moved here from crazy Los Angeles. So it’s a very peaceful, calm environment compared to L.A..
Karuna: Yeah, I love how you get both the ocean and the mountains right at your fingertips.
Kathy: Exactly. It reminds me of South Africa a little bit, where I was born.
Karuna: Mm hmm. And how long have you been in the United States?
Kathy: I’ve been here for over 30 years, but I still have my accent apparently.
Kathy: You do! I was going to ask, but, you know, it’s rude. So I want to ask you something more interesting. You have just gorgeous artwork behind you. Some people are listening, so they wouldn’t be able to see it. Can you talk a little bit about your art?
Kathy: Yes. So I’m a mixed media artist and I’m very interested in intuitive painting and working from instead of planning my paintings, I work from a sort of… I first always meditate before I paint. And that way it kind of opens up my creative channels. And then I just really kind of work with my unconscious mind that in a way tells me what’s going on with me. And so it’s a process. Which is why I call my studio the Art Process. It’s very process oriented, very healing, very meditative and very informative, actually, because it tells me… my paintings talk to me. They tell me what’s going on with me internally.
Karuna: I love it. And so. I don’t know if there are words you can use to describe this, but I’d love to understand the connection between your meditation, the tapping into the intuition or your subconscious, and then. the process of bringing that alive on the medium. Can you dive just a little bit deeper there?
Kathy: It’s very interesting. Because, you know, we/re such brainy, heady thinking humans, if you meditate before you create, you’re kind of putting that thinking brain aside and allowing yourself to access your subconscious mind in a way that you couldn’t do it without meditating. So you go into a deep state, as you know, with meditation, what that does, and it almost opens up some channels of creativity that are deep and interesting. And so what I do, like when I guide people through this process, is I do a guided meditation and then sort of flow them into a creative process so that they continue that feeling of kind of openness and connection that they’ve achieved through that quieting of the mind. And it’s fascinating because things come out that you that you wouldn’t.. that wouldn’t normally come out. And it’s really…it reveals a lot, really a lot, and it flows, it just flows, the same as when you meditate, your day and your life seems to flow in a way like a river. You know, the same is with creativity. It just kind of comes out. And all those fears and anxieties about painting and judgment are kind of put aside for for that moment.
Karuna: Kathy, what brought you to this really beautiful place of of your work with your art and your mind and meditation? How did you arrive at this door stop?
Kathy: Great question. So when I was growing up in South Africa, my mother was an artist. A really brilliant artist, but she was extremely critical of my own painting. Of hers and mine. She thought she was being helpful.
Karuna: We often do as parents. And then we scare the hell out of our kids, right?
Kathy: Exactly. Exactly. But as I developed my life, I had lost my confidence completely. But when I went to art school, I started really thinking about what is it that stopping me from being afraid of? Clearly, my mother, in a critical way of being was what was stopping me, so I kind of delved into that. Now I’ve always been into meditation and yoga. That’s a huge part of my life. And I started to just meditate a lot about it and I came up with this idea that my mother and that judgment had like imprinted, implanted itself in my brain, and I had to in some way move it, move past it. And through years of meditation and teaching, I did a lot of teaching in schools and art schools. I learned that everyone kind of… myself first, I needed that kind of liberation through meditation and breathing. But my students also needed it. So sometimes it wouldn’t necessarily just be through meditation, but it would be through journaling or writing that I would encourage them to be less judgmental about their own work because and I, as a teacher and a coach, had to be encouraging and not be at all critical because it just stops the whole process. So that’s I think, you know, in a backhanded way, I can thank my mother for giving me that opposite experience that led me to do this work for myself and for my students.
Karuna: Yeah, I don’t think you’ve come to one of my classes, but we talk a lot in my classes and on Mind Oasis about how sometimes it’s the greatest teachers are the most difficult circumstances or people or situations and how there’s really, while it can hurt like hell at the time and we don’t spiritually bypass, we don’t like say, oh, it was it because of the outcome, it was great. There’s an acknowledgement that it really stunk at the time, but that there is hope in the fact that when you look back on your life, you can see how the difficulties have actually been a springboard for some of the most miraculous moments of your life as well. So I love that that’s an essential part of your own journey. So you have an upcoming couple of offerings on Mind Oasis, why don’t you tell us a little bit first about the mini workshop that you’ll be offering?
Kathy: So the mini workshop, which is on the 15th of April, is a 30 minute experience where you will feel what I do in the following six week workshop. So, it will be like an eight minute guided meditation and then with very, very simple materials that you have at home, pens, markers, crayons, paper, whatever you have, where I will guide you through a meditative, mindful art experience that’ll be fine for anyone who’s never picked up any art materials before. And if you’re curious about the process of creativity this is perfect because there’s no there’s no fear attached to what we’re doing and there’s no judgment. So you do what you what you want to do. And it could be based on the breath that we take. It could be, um, for the one that we’re doing on the 15th, it will be based on the meditation that we are going to do, which will be breath based. And then I will guide you through kind of mapping your breath with art materials. And it’s fun. Oh, you’re going to have fun.
Karuna: Oh! We’re going to have fun?! Awesome!
Kathy: Yeah. Yeah, it has to be fun. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?
Karuna: Kathy, is this what you do for a living? Meaning can you talk a little bit about your day to day process with your art and with others?
Kathy: Yes, I’m happy to. So my day always begins with a meditation and I have a large kind of journal sketchbook that I then always create some kind of small collage painting, something that just gets my juices flowing for the day. And it’s usually connected to my meditation of the day. Then what I do is, at the moment I’m working online, but I coach. I call myself a creativity coach. So people will gather with me online and I coach them through the process of painting or mixed media. And I work with small groups. I work with individuals. I work with companies a lot. Businesses, corporations, where, either they want a wellness kind of day, where they they need to break out of the corporate environment or it’s a team building event. So I do that quite a bit. I’ve done quite a lot for Google, where people from all over the country, which is really nice about Zoom, can gather and I guide them through a process that is, you know, that is a creative outlet for the stresses that they’re under, particularly now. So my whole day is really… I try and put aside some work for myself because it’s as a creative guide, I have to feel inspired and I have to do my own work in order to be a good guide. And I’m not…I don’t call myself a teacher, I call myself a guide or a facilitator because you, the person I’m working with, is the artist, the creator. I’m just the facilitator. I’m the guide. I’m the support for what’s really deep inside you. Because everyone has it, whether they call themselves an artist or not, everyone has a creative instinct. From the earliest cave painters who didn’t go to art school and call themselves artists, they just took those sticks and drew on the cave walls because it was a natural instinct. And our society has kind of like, marginalized art into this elite group. I want to make it open for everyone because the benefits are massive. They are huge, it’s the same as the benefits of meditation. It just calms you down. It gives you perspective on your own life. So, yes, that’s a long answer to a short question.
Karuna: No, it was lovely. I have to say that I’m in the process of writing a book. And so, of course, that’s creative. And even though it’s a memoir that the working title is Letters to my 10-year-old Self, it’s been very interesting. I have dripped some parts of chapters out to my friends and family on Facebook online, and I’ve been really encouraged by the response I’ve received. And I don’t think it’s because my writing is exceptional. I think it’s because people see or hear or feel their experience in my experience. And it could be a 10-year-old boy. It could be an eight-year-old girl. That part doesn’t really matter. It’s more about sort of the shared experience that we have as humans. And so when you were talking about the cave people and about, you know, I don’t think of myself as a good artist, but certainly any time I’m able to express myself creatively, it is getting into the flow state and out of the thinking mind.
Kathy: Yes, absolutely. A hundred percent. And I think that people respond to your work because they feel the authenticity and that’s really what they respond to. So clearly, you’re doing the right thing in your writing.
Karuna: Yeah, I think we’re all in a state of desire for authenticity and real connection between between humans. So on that note, on the 27th of April, you’re going to kick off a six week creative meditation series. And this is so exciting. It’s called Meditate and Create with Kathy Leader. And it’s just an hour on Tuesday evenings, or afternoons. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what those weeks will encompass and and how you envision it all playing out?
Kathy: Yes. So that six week series is going to kind of build on itself. So each week I’ll build on what we did in the past week. And so we’re going to do the same thing. It will be a guided meditation. I will then guide you through the process of creativity, and then there will be, in the beginning, some kind of intention that we’re going to set on how we want to experience this. So there will be a little bit of writing in the beginning. And at the end, I always like to share, or people, to give them the opportunity to share what they’ve made because that’s exciting and inspirational and community building as well. So, you know, everyone’s fears become, you know, a common element. Everyone’s scared of creativity on some level. And so the shared experience is powerful, as you know, in the work you do. And then the next week we’ll go through another meditation, but build on the last one and they will sometimes be separate art projects. And sometimes we’ll just work with what we did the week before. And then I also have an opportunity for questions and discussion at the end and revelations and writing. It’s incredibly exciting. I’m so looking forward to it. And it’s very simple. As I said, the materials are very, very simple. You’ll be given a list of what to bring each week so that, you know, you’re all set up and and it’ll go by in a flash. You’ll wish you were doing six hours instead of one hour.
Karuna: I believe that. And you also, it sounds like you do this for organizations and corporate. That’s really lovely. So people will get to know you and then if they have resources to share, that would be a wonderful outcome as well. So I always like to end my podcast the same way with a question, and you are welcome to answer in any way, shape or form you wish. Kathy, what is your truth?
Kathy: What is my truth? I think my truth is my connection. My connection to other humans. Which comes through my creativity. I could go on about that, but my creativity forms my connection to other humans and my connection to other humans informs my creativity. So it’s like a marriage.
Karuna: Mmmm… that’s so beautiful. Kathy, thank you so much. So Kathy Leader will be bringing her wonderful creative meditation series to Mind Oasis on the twenty-seventh of April. You can find her and her work on Mindoasis.org. There’s a tab that says Learn. And if you want to go for a test, then I would highly recommend that you also join her on the fifteenth of April for her free workshop, which will give you a taste of what’s to come. And again, you can find that at Mindoasis.org where there’s a tab called Learn and you’ll see the free mini workshops. Kathy, thank you so much for joining me today. It was awesome to meet you and to hear all about your life work. It’s fascinating and beautiful and potent.
Kathy: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed that.
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