“I shut my eyes in order to see.”Paul Gauguin
I was fortunate to have a highly charged weekend in the art department. First, I hung a painting that moves me like no other on the wall of my home. It’s a pretty cool thing when a piece someone creates with great intention resonates so deeply with someone else: moves something in them, helps them through a struggle, maybe even makes their heart grow a bit. For me, that’s the painting pictured above and these words by the artist, René Romero Schuler:
“Spirit is what connects all of humanity. I have many great artistic influences, of course, but my own exploration has become what truly propels me forward. My personal quest for a feeling of connection to what lies around me has been a very spiritual mission.”
This last weekend, I attended the Sun Valley Film Fest. Meg Ryan, who is as appealing and real in-person as she is on screen, spoke at a “coffee talk” we attended. She told a story of being at a dinner party comprised mostly of artists, actors and filmmakers. They were asked to go around the table and share what they thought art was.
As the comments droned on with long answers, the question made its way to actor/ filmmaker Mike Nichols, who stood up and proclaimed, “Art is what makes you feel less alone.”
I loved hearing this, especially just after my new painting, “The Maker,” had arrived at my doorstep.
As an occasionally creative writer and writing coach, I am intrigued by the process of creativity. I believe we all have the ability, and maybe even the need, to create. It is a challenge for all people, but especially young people. Raised on comparison and right answers, the young among us feel vulnerable expressing their own ideas. When I work with them, I like to share my own process before writing, which includes some reflective and meditative time. Truth be told, my mind bounces a bit (a lot), so I need all the help I can get. I share two preparatory meditations with these kids, both of which I practice.
First is the Adi Mantra, found in Kundalini yoga. It goes like this: “I bow to the Creative Wisdom. I bow to the Divine Teacher within.”
Second is a prayer preachers often offer before sermonizing: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
I gently suggest the possibility of letting creativity flow through us, because it’s free and easy. And when ego and fear get in the way, things can get a bit botched. Eckhart Tolle reinforces this in saying, “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”
By the way, let me report that, when these kids slow down and breathe and maybe even close their eyes for a few minutes, what pours out of them is pure inspiration.
Practice being creative. However that might look. If you have something to create, big or small, take a mindful minute before you dive in. Breathe a bit. Be still, get clear.
Write a letter or a funny thought in the notes of your iPhone with no idea or expectation that you’ll ever do anything with it. Arrange flowers, reorganize your office, write, bead, color, cook, do pottery in a strip mall and leave the lopsided bowl behind.
And, get the best creativity-sparking book – Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way – with daily inspirations, suggestions and practices.