Clearings To Help With Creative Inspiration And Flow

Anyone who has persevered in the arts (or healing, sports, or any such area of devoted interest) acknowledges the need for dedicated learning and intense practice.  We know that we need to master the skills and build the muscle memory and strength at the mind-body level.

Yet, to take things to the next level, repetition alone is not enough.  
Something more is required.  We frequently hear advice along the lines of ‘get into the flow‘, or ‘find the zone‘, or ‘get yourself out of the way‘. For, what is required is for us to become one with the experience; inviting in a grace and inspiration to bring forth the highest possible in the moment.

Regardless of whether our endeavour is a creative pursuit or a mundane, mechanical task – when we pay attention – we notice that the space which we operate from is as critical to the outcome as our actual ability, practised skill and execution.

As Hazrat Inayat Khan hinted:

It is not solid wood that can become a flute, but the empty reed.

Wu Hsin also pointed succinctly with:

Perfect archery has no archer.

Scot Barry Kaufman, in his HBR article, “Why Inspiration Matters” states:
To become personally inspired, the best you can do is set up the optimal circumstances for inspiration. As a society, the best we can do is assist in setting up these important circumstances for everyone.  An easy first step is simply recognizing the sheer potency of inspiration, and its potential impact on everything we do.

However, even if one be convinced of the ‘sheer potency of inspiration‘, we still face a huge challenge:  How does one “set up the optimal circumstances for inspiration“?

Here is where we can turn to a beautiful poem that describes a methodical process to this end. ‘Poem of the Woodcarver’, by Chuang Tzu (from ‘The Way of Chuang Tzu’, by Thomas Merton) is a masterpiece treasured by many artists and teachers. It has been a personal favourite for a long time and I quote it below:

‘The Woodcarver’
by Chuang Tzu

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing, replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

So now, the next question that usually arises after reading the above is:
How do we incorporate this wisdom into our life? 

Simple rituals can help set a mindful tone and clarify our focus.
For example, habits, such as decluttering, lighting a candle, playing soft background music, meditation or prayer before we begin our work, can all help.

Importantly, like ‘The Woodcarver’, starting with a clear intent to clear our inner space and inviting the highest to come through can significantly change the quality of whatever it is that we are expressing, doing, or making.

Drawing on my extensive experience with healing processes, I felt using NOW Healing with statements inspired by Chuang Tzu’s sage advice could lead to a powerful, useful practice. Used regularly, this meditative piece could aid in facilitating inspired work.

(It lends structure to my own approach to healing and the various creative mediums  I play with. Though, I feel its relevance is not limited to any particular field but extends to all form of authentic expression and offerings.  After all, as Rumi said, Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”)

Sharing the process I came up with below, for those who think along similar lines:

Guiding Instructions:
a) Place your attention at the base of your spine, and then sweep your awareness quickly up the middle of your body(your ‘Center‘), and out from the top of your head, expanding upwards and outwards, in not more than 2 seconds.  Don’t think or concentrate too much, just do it quickly and lightly.
b) As you do the above, “Enter the command”, i.e. mentally say the first statement from the list below. Inhale and release a deep breath as you do this.
c) Do this for each of the 21 statements, going through them slowly and mindfully. You may want to record the statements below in your own voice for regular use.
(To learn about Elma Mayer’s ‘NOW Healing’ and the ‘Center’ in greater detail, click here. Alternatively, use this as a tapping script with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).)

 

  1. Align to Wholeness Now.
  2. Disentangle from all outer temptations and distractions Now.
  3. Disentangle from the need to look or be busy Now.
  4. Align to ease with non-activity Now.
  5. Align to patience Now.
  6. Align to deep listening of inner guidance Now.
  7. Disentangle from all conscious and unconscious vested interests Now.
  8. Disentangle from all conscious and unconscious fear and anticipation of judgement, criticism and rejection Now.
  9. Disentangle from all conscious and unconscious craving and aversion for praise, riches, popularity, and fame Now.
  10. Disentangle from all limitations of body-mind identification Now.
  11. Disentangle from all thoughts, fears, expectations, and projections of audience response Now.
  12. Align to inspiration Now.
  13. Align to emergence Now.
  14. Align to flow Now.
  15. Align to seeing with Wholeness Now.
  16. Align to clarity Now.
  17. Align to inspired, skilful action Now.
  18. Align to best possible effort Now.
  19. Disentangle from all conclusion, judgment, attachment, or investment in the outcome Now.
  20. Align to easeful surrender, peace and fulfilment Now.
  21. Reintegrate Now.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few moments.

I trust that you will experience a wonderful spaciousness, lightness and ease by this point. May this provide you with just the right space and state to proceed as per your own inner guidance now.

If you experiment with this process, I would love to have you share what followed in the comments below.  And if you enjoyed the article, please do pass it on!

Land art by Andy Goldsworthy.jpeg


My
sculpture can last for days or a few seconds –
what is important to me is the experience of making.
I leave all my work outside and often return to watch it decay.
(Land Art and Quote ~ Andy Goldsworthy)

Reclaiming Creativity (EFT script)

Photo: So the Grass is always Greener on the Other side!

It is not uncommon for me to meet people facing frustration and dissatisfaction in their work lives.  However, after 3 conversations in a single week – about the frustrations of having left behind all interest in creative pursuits, I felt motivated to address the issue through a blog post.

Society seems to do little to encourage individual creativity and artistic pursuits.  These are considered as fine indulgences and as long as they are restricted to ‘hobbies’ or childhood activities, they remain marginally acceptable.  But any notions of following your heart and consistently allowing yourself to experience the joy that comes from any form of art are quickly attacked with cynicism and censure.  While it is true that it is difficult to make a living from these professions/pursuits, it is equally true that for some – expressing these traits is akin to life giving oxygen.  When you deny yourself the expression of your innate talents, there is a part of you that feels stifled and frustrated.  No amount of external rewards or monetary gains can compensate for this feeling of in-completion.  On the other hand, giving yourself the time and space to explore these areas nourishes the soul, energizes the body and brings a deep, indescribable sense of fulfilment, contentment and well-being.

If you would like to step out of the either/or mindset that has been sold to you, and would like to open doorways to a more natural, harmonious way of being, that encourages inclusion and acceptance of all parts of your self – here is a tool to help.  May this EFT script help you  reclaim your creativity.

The following assumes that you are familiar with Emotional Freedom Techniques.   You can refer to the one pager to get started and if you find it useful, you can always find more material on the net.  For a more thorough understanding, you may want to get hold of my book ‘Emotional Freedom Techniques’.

Karate Chop: As a child I was more open
To expressing whatever came through
Whether it was a drawing or a poem
It was fun to create and share it too
Eyebrow: But as I grew older in years
Side of the Eye: Experience left its mark
Under the Eye: A comment here
Under the Nose: A look there
Chin: A shake of the head, or not
Collarbone: Somehow I began to feel
Under the Arm: That all this business of art
Top of the Head: Makes little sense.  For me – this is not.
Karate Chop: I learned to be practical
Wise and worldly it seemed
I nodded in agreement
That one has to rational and stick to the mainstream
Eyebrow: Taking it to the extreme
Side of the Eye: I packed away all the joy
Under the Eye: Inspiration and fun too
Under the Nose: Blocked all the creative juices
Chin: Gave up on these  ‘childish pursuits’
Collarbone: Art cannot sustain a living
Under the Arm: Its for a chosen few
Top of the Head: The passionate, carried away, unrealistic fools
Karate Chop: At some point I began to judge myself
For missing that part of me
Here I was ‘growing up’ and moving up
And yet feeling this misery
Eyebrow: Its time to cut the ties that bind
Side of the Eye: That keep me locked in this pragmatic grind
Under the Eye: Today I give myself freedom
Under the Nose: And allow myself to see
Chin: That life is not about closing doors
Collarbone: Or limiting optiions in ways to be
Under the Arm: I don’t have to make this an either/or choice
Top of the Head: How about seeing the concurrent possibilities?
Karate Chop: What if I allow myself
To be all that I am
Not restricted to mind and thought
But in touch with the larger plan
Eyebrow: What if I honor all
Side of the Eye: That waits to emerge through me
Under the Eye: Every bit of art, expression and creativity
Under the Nose: What if the joy and ease
Chin: That comes from being this way
Collarbone: Comes not at a cost, as I thought
Under the Arm: But brings me gains instead
Top of the Head: What if this is who I am meant to be,
An instrument of inspiration, grace and harmony
Karate Chop: I free myself from all judgements
Of not being good enough
Of being too different, a misfit
Impractical, romantic-headed, deluded by impulse
Eyebrow: I honor the creator in me
Side of the Eye: I respect my abilites to flow
Under the Eye: To allow newness and beauty to appear in all my work
Under the Nose: I enjoy my life and living, letting my talents show
Chin: Carrying this enthusiasm and energy
Collarbone: Into all aspects of my life and growth
Under the Arm: Thereby inviting prosperity
Top of the Head: The abundance that naturally follows
the path of excellence that authenticity draws forth

Drink plenty of water, repeat the routine as often as required and do share what this brings up for you!

Related Post: Writing on the Wall

Photo Credit:  Tanushree Vaidya