"I haven't told you, but you are such a good art teacher. I have improved so much with your help, and feel like the sky is the limit. Painting has given me a life again, after 15 years without one. Being in pain and trying to live with it was all I knew – now I feel as if I have another chance at a happy and productive life. Thanks so much!"
I too have noticed the absence of pain when I paint (or teach or act or write), among other wonderful benefits when deeply engrossed in the creative process. I have always been a staunch believer in the transformative powers of being inside the creative process. People often tell me how time seems to pass so quickly when painting, etc. Why is this? I think when humans take the focus off themselves, give their ego a rest, we are literally transported to another spiritual plane. The deeper our study, our inquiry, the deeper our concentration, the more amazing this time travel phenomenon becomes. It actually lessons physical (and emotional) pain, because it takes our focus completely outside of ourselves. With a little structured focus it can become almost an out of body experience, requiring no drugs or outside stimulation at all (see "The Case for Painting Sober" below). I have equated it to my yoga experience in the past because the creative process is most definitely a form of yoga; it is a profound meditation. I have constructed exercises to gain immediate access to this plane, heavily borrowed from the thousands of teachers who came before me, over thousands of years. I believe the arts are the key to peace on Earth, beginning with peace in me. I explored this a bit in my recent Van Gogh play, among other ideas.