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)

Without Apology

Giving and receiving

Someone dear to me is accustomed to saying ‘Haq banta hai’ (I have the right), whenever he requests anything that could be considered an imposition. Even though I often suffered from the story of ‘I am often and easily taken advantage of’ in the past, his saying this never triggered any resistance in me. However, I understood why this was so only recently.

The shoe was on the other foot.  I said something similar to another friend, confessing how I had done something on the assumption that he would back me on it.  I felt neither guilt nor apology, and there was no complaint from him either.  He smilingly said that us taking each other for granted is a given.

So what is the difference between my old ‘story’ and these situations? Having given my old habits due attention, I see that the old story was just one more way for the personality to solidify and make separation real. When I succumb to this particular story, I am operating from the space of being an individual, dealing with another person. This necessitates a constant check and balance system to ensure that both parties feel respected and looked out for. In the latter case, one is resting in oneness and flow is taking care of things effortlessly.

To think of ‘yourself’ alone, or to ‘only look out for others’, are both rooted in an error in perception. What results is a polarised manipulation of resources(including intangibles such as care, attention and so forth), imbalanced by the strenuous attempt to serve a particular individual or group. Consequently, someone is left with suffering, resentment, guilt and or pain, as self-centredness is at the cost of others and sacrifice is at the cost of our self.

Correct perception is in seeing how we all are an interwoven One. Hence, in the larger context, when being and acting from oneness, any improvement in well-being (or alleviation of suffering) is unfailingly beneficial to all concerned: There may be different manifestations in form, but in essence there is only One.

In Oneness is a remembrance of universal, omnipresent divinity. As this eliminates all feelings of lack and inadequacy, what emerges is a natural flow of goodness that brings balance and harmony in its wake.  For now, ‘the cup’ truly ‘runneth over’.   Even if the ‘other’ behaves in a disturbing way, our own response comes from a deeper wisdom and compassion. Our choices and behaviour are no longer ruled by fear based negotiations, but become an expression of love and wholeness.

Just as we use Newtonian Laws at one level of perception and experience in physics, and understand that concurrently, the Laws of Quantum Physics are also at play at a different level, there are different guidelines for our behaviour, depending upon whether we are operating from ego or oneness. Politeness, thoughtfulness, negotiation and protocol all have their appropriate place and bypassing these has its own consequences when we are located in separation.  So it is inadvisable to pretend to oneness and use that as an excuse for disrespectful choices.

However, when we are genuinely centred in oneness, our interactions take on an unremarkable ordinariness.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience this kind of love, ease and simplicity in our lives more consistently?

May this thought provoking piece from Chuang Tzu serve as a reminder to such grace.

Apologies
by Chuang Tzu

If a man steps on a stranger’s foot
In the marketplace,
He makes a polite apology
And offers an explanation:
“This place is so crowded.”

If an elder brother
Steps on his younger brother’s foot
He says, “Sorry.”
And that is that.

If a parent steps on his child’s foot
Nothing is said at all.

The greatest politeness
Is free from all formality.
Perfect conduct is free of concern.
Perfect wisdom is unplanned.
Perfect love is without demonstrations.
Perfect sincerity offers no guarantee.

(Photo Source: Facebook Gratitude)