I walk through the open doorway, from the hot bursting sun, into a small room. The cool air from the air conditioning is a welcome change from the mid 90’s sticky heat, and I feel my breath come more easily.
Then I see it.
To my right, the familiar image takes up the entire wall. This recreation is even 3D and sticks out in all directions, begging me to feel every emotion.
And then I turn around and within an instant, the Scream fades away as I stand in front of another piece of art, one I’ve never seen before. A face, looking at me….no THROUGH me, as if to say,
Take a breath.
You are ok.
The tension washes free, as I smile in a deeper knowing. I walk back out into the sunshine, and look back at the sign above the entrance, reading:
The Chamber of Internal Dialogue.
That seems about right.
What is your inner dialogue?
What do you tell yourself in your Creative Process?
Do you find yourself wanting to just Scream?
And when the voices get so loud you can only clamp your hands over your ears, do you just stop or persevere?
Many times, the voices in our head are our own worst enemy, especially if they are constantly holding you back and saying,
Nobody cares about your Art
This isn’t good enough to show
No one will pay for your work
You’re a fraud, not a real Artist
That’s enough to make ANYONE scream! And ultimately, cause you to stop doing what you love, or just find yourself starting a LOT of projects but never complete.
Thankfully, there is an answer. And it’s something you can access at any time, at any moment, and never leaves you. It’s with you right now, as you are reading this.
Last weekend, I experienced the magic of Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.
“Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Opened to the public in 1992, it has rapidly become one of the premier cultural destinations in New Jersey, welcoming and enchanting nearly 2.1 million visitors since then. Founded by artist and philanthropist Seward Johnson, the nonprofit Grounds For Sculpture presents and conserves an exceptional collection of contemporary sculpture, offers outstanding programming for all ages, and provides seasonally rotating exhibitions in six indoor galleries.”
I was like a kid on the most amazing playground, taking in each artwork, posing for fun pictures, and loving the variety and scope. I was in heaven.
My curiosity was especially peaked when I saw a small white hut with a huge recreation of The Scream on the outside wall. But it was the title of the work that really brought me through the open door, The Chamber of Internal Dialogue.
Inside the Scream rose on the right, and I found myself remembering so many moments I wanted to just open my mouth and cry out.
Being cut from a Broadway audition
Falling in dance class
Forgetting my lines in a performance
And then, in 2013,
Losing my home
Going through a divorce
Getting in two car accidents in one day…..
In those moments, I felt like I was failing, and the voices in my head felt like they were pulling me even further down. I wanted to curl up in a ball and just yell to the world,
But, the thing that had been missing in my life, came into clear focus in 2013. In the past, I would have just Screamed, thrown my anger and spiraled even more in blame…but now, I had access to what would turn my whole life and Art around.
For the first time in my life, I had tools around grounding, around how to come within in the face of disappointment and pain. And the vehicle for that was always there….it was my breath.
Take a moment, and check in. We can so easily rush through our day and forget this simple tool. When we get upset, anxiety rises and our breathing becomes shallow. Then our heart rate raises, and everything goes straight up into our heads.
We are trying to THINK our way out of our experience, and this just creates more anxiety and frustration. The answer and antidote to this elevated state is to take a moment to ground back in.
How do you do that?
By connecting to your breath.
Close your eyes, place your hand on your belly, and place your attention on your breath. Allow your belly to soften and fill your hand with your inhale. Count to ten.
With each breath, allow the space between your breaths to lengthen.
By doing this, you are dropping from your thinking mind which has high-jacked your sense of safety, and come back home. Home to who you are, not what is happening to you.
Yes, we will all have challenges in our Creative Lives, but the real spiral comes when we identify with the challenge, instead of creating some perspective.
You are not your challenges.
The biggest gift your breath gives you?
It’s in the space, you can take a moment and actually question whether that inner dialogue is true. In most cases, it’s really just your fear talking.
And when we can ground back down, the urge to Scream leaves us, we remember who we are, and can get back to the work we WANT to be doing, living through our passion, and creating Art that has an impact.
So, place your hand on your belly, close your eyes, and breathe……
How do you feel now?
Having a daily practice to connect with my breath allowed me to move through the worst year of my life, transform my performance, and give me the courage to launch my own business.
And most importantly, it’s brought love back into my life. You see, going to the Grounds for Sculpture wasn’t my idea…it was my partner’s, and sharing the day with him was a dream come true…..one that I have been looking forward to for four years.
Inside the Chamber of Inner Dialogue, on the opposite wall was a open and peaceful face, with fingers raised in a mudra. Like the Scream, it also was 3D, emerging forward and begging me to feel every emotion.
When I viewed this, I remembered my breath.
I remembered who I am.
And I stopped screaming…..
You can too, right now, and at any moment.