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)

Point of No Return

maze top view

Assuming you consider your self to be a dedicated “seeker”, or one in sincere pursuit of answers to the fundamental existential questions – have you ever examined your motivation for the same?  What put you on this path?  What drove you to seek deeper meaning and perhaps even enlightenment(however you define that)?

Why we do what we do is a critical factor that radically influences the outcomes of our actions.  Simply changing the space that one operates from can result in significant shifts in the consequences.

The path to ‘Source’ (if I may call it that for brevity) can be likened to a maze.  As we progress from the outer realms towards the deep, hidden center, we encounter unexpected demons along the way.  These can be fundamentally disturbing.  Invitations to face our own inner monsters, unravel our stories, deconstruct, question and often destroy the very foundations of our paradigms and institutions can be daunting for the bravest of hearts.

While we feel troubled in our health, career, relationship, etc…, we still persevere.  We are in fact looking to mend the problem, without looking to heal the original wound(of separation from Source).  Spiritual tools are used as the band aids.  With initial benefits, there sets in a comfort.  An unwillingness ‘to rock the boat’.  Things are going well enough, at least to an extent that you can cope with the status-quo with lesser pain than before.  Why give up the pleasures of illusion for the sake of unrelenting truth?  All the meditation, spiritual practices, clearing tools and so forth, are parked aside and become nothing more than points of lofty conversation.  Living the path has ceased.

However, there will be those who reach a Point of No Return.  Once you have seen through the illusions even briefly, had a taste of pure awareness or remembered the knowing of your true essence – you can no longer walk out of this maze.  You have to keep going on.  Regardless of the changes and disruptions it brings in your experience.  However different it makes you from those around you.  You know you have to go on.  You cannot not know what you now know. 

I would like to extend the maze analogy a little further, to paint a broad picture of how our initial motivations determine our Point of No Return.

Consider the Source to be at the center of this complex garden maze.  There are four gates to this garden:

  • Material & Physical – Those facing financial strain, bankruptcy,  physical disease, or imminent death enter through this gate.  They seek a deeper meaning to understand and address their suffering from the roots.  Those who find their Point of No Return fairly early and persevere on, appear to rise above all suffering.  For example, even if the physical body continues to bear pain or eventually dies, it becomes clear that their soul is at peace.  Then there will be some who will recover, turn back, and quickly relapse into their old ways again.  These may find their patterns return, sometimes aggravated.  Because life turns up the volume until we pay attention.  So they go in and out of the maze at prolonged intervals and wonder why they face the same situations again and again.  Their attachment to the physical body and material possessions remains intact.
  • Emotional – Given the ever changing sea of emotions that we encounter in our human form, this is one of the most well trodden paths.  But the Point of No Return is fairly far down this route.  Temporary relief being noticeable early along the way, few people want to keep on.  Questioning your own identity, moving out of old relationships and careers, and seeing the extent of the web of illusion we have trapped our self into is a fresh invitation for pain.  Just when the wounded child begins to feel a little loved and capable of loving, why would it choose to face these new storms?  So this path keeps most of us admiring its early benefits, with few daring to cross a Point of No Return.
  • Intellectual – Another very popular gate, this one is famous for its high foot falls.  Who doesn’t enjoy a deep philosophical debate over the meaning of life?  Information and theory has never been as widely and as easily accessible as in current times.  We all can hold forth on ancient texts, modern masters, Sufi poetry and so on.  A wonderful place to meet like minded people and have lengthy discussion.  The Point of No Return is not really important here.  They enjoy walking in and meandering around the by-lanes in the happy discovery of the path.  Here, the path is indeed the destination.
  • Spiritual – This is the least used gate.  A rare few are just born with this unquenchable thirst for reconnection to Source.  Some may have explored a bit of the maze by entering through the other gates and back out.  They may have to come to realize that this is the most direct path.  So they re-enter from this gate – with no other agenda.   They have little interest in the material world, know they are far more than a physical body and understand that this is all a game.  They are done with the word play.  They are willing to transcend not only pain, but also pleasure.  Those entering this gate will not turn back.  Their Point of No Return is the entry itself.

Knowing what set you on the path will help you understand your dissatisfaction with your progress.

  • Which gate was your point of entry?
  • How does this influence the journey for you personally?
  • Have you the inclination and courage to go beyond the Point of No Return?

How can you gauge where you are located? 

Here are some questions that GD came up with in this context:

  • Thirst – How eager are you for the truth?  Do not gauge your aspiration, but examine how much of your life is lived in accordance with your path.
  • Openness to Learning – Are you willing to learn from any one and everything?  Or do you have preferences and limitations there?
  • Clearing – Inquiry, questioning your own points of view and energetic clearings are required to clear our brain fog and habitual filters.  How much consistency and dedication do you demonstrate there?

Rate the above on a subjective scale of 1 – 10 for yourself.

The reasons for your ‘stuckness’ or air of exhaustion will become apparent.  When you find you can honestly mark yourself at the higher end of the scale for all three – you can be assured that you have crossed your Point of No Return.

Now its a matter of perseverance and grace.

 

 

Image Credit: Credit: YANN ARTHUS BERTRAND