The Magic of the Pause

Do you ever feel like there are just NOT enough hours in the day to get everything done?

So much is involved in being an Artist today, and it can feel overwhelming keeping up with social media, promotions, your friends and family, and then there’s the actual CREATION part…

You have this finite amount of time to
write the chapter
paint the canvas
choreograph the dance
plan out the show
edit your footage

So, what happens when you go to sit and actually DO your Art, and nothing comes?

Your mind is racing a million miles a minute going through a laundry list of To Do’s. You find yourself literally listing out groceries instead of being able to create.
Inspiration has gone OUT the window…

It can be so frustrating, right?

This is the FUN part!  This is the part we live for as Artists….so why does it dry up?

And more importantly, what can we do in that moment so we can actually create our best work and actually deliver to our audience?

How can we connect back with our Muse and feel that glorious flow again when we are so stressed OUT?

 

Last weekend I went to one of the most delicious and affirming workshops.  Led by master writing teacher, Christian McEwen, she led us in a one day retreat titled,
Learning to Pause.

In front of us, she offered a thick pad of drawing paper surrounded by colored pencils, pastels, and wax crayons.  One by one, we each tore a crisp sheet from the wire binder and were instructed to fold it in half.

On the left side, she wanted us to draw what a Frenzied State looked like to us.  Then on the right side, she wanted us to draw our state of flow and ease.

I had picked many colored pencils for the right side, but when I thought of the Frenzy, there was only one pencil that made sense…..
black.

The left side of my paper was colorless, marked by strong black circular shapes forming a huge exhausted eye, the lack of sleep and wrinkles in hard lines. I found myself drawing arrows pointing down, and black tear drops.  This was frenzy to me.  Black, colorless, heavy……a giant dragon eye drooping under the pressure.

Then, I picked up the colors and drew my place of inspiration.  Waves of water, rays of sunlight and energy, pulsing over smiling lips, and spirals in vibrant blues and purples.  Nature in all her glory, opening me.

I was struck by the stark contrast, and then Christian spoke about what happens in between.

Because this is the REAL question, right?

We all experience the tired black dragon, the darkness and hard lines in our life.  How do go from the frenzy to the flow?

The answer lies in the fold of the sheet we were drawing on, the crease we had formed from one to the next….

The answer is in the Pause.

It’s when we can stop all the insanity, and just connect back with the world around us.

Take a moment right now, and connect to your five senses.
What is the environment around you? Take in the details around you.
What do you smell right now?
Whirl your tongue around your teeth. What do you taste in your mouth?
What do you feel on your skin?
Close your eyes, and open your ears.  What sounds are around you?

And what happens in that moment when you place your attention on your single sense?

You come present.
The whirlwind in your mind takes a break.

And it’s in this break, this magical pause, that you re-set.

And in the re-set, the Muse comes in.

“Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste.  It’s what everything else isn’t.”
-Theodore Roethke

 

We can so easily forget how important a moment of pause is to our livelihood as an Artist.  This class was a huge reminder for me. I literally walked in 10 minutes late, breathless from booking as fast as I could to the workshop doors.  I felt self conscious, embarrassed, and frustrated.  This workshop was about Learning to Pause, and I was in a frenzy to get here!

Clearly I needed this……

Christian gave us 30 minutes to go outside on the Brooklyn street and noticed up to 8 things, writing a free form poem or short writing.

This felt like a huge gift.  I walked out, and found myself falling in love with so much on the street….a plastic cup, a worn out Toyota, a house sparrow chirping noisily in the tree….I realized inspiration was ALL around me.

And 8 poems emerged….in only 30  minutes.

Why?

I was taking the pause.  I was coming present.  There was no rush, AND I was open to take in my environment. All the other To Do’s fell away, and the Muse came in.  In fact, she had never left.  Now I was actually open to see her, walking alongside me on the concrete of Brooklyn.

J.K. Rowling conceived Harry Potter on a stalled train.  She was forced into a pause, and one of the most popular characters of our time was born.

And the beauty is, we all possess this ability.

And I want to be clear, this is not about disconnection or distraction. I’m not talking about binge watching or playing candy crush.

The pause is coming back to your actual experience NOW. It’s bringing your senses back on line; getting out of the monkey mind of your past and future fears, and actually taking IN your reality.

So what is that for you?
What is your moment of pause?

When you think of a sheet of paper with Frenzy on the left and flow on the right, what nourishes you?

Take out a piece of paper, and write these down.  Place them somewhere you can see them, and re-visit.  Place them by your instrument, or in your studio, or on an inspiration wall.

And now, give yourself permission to take a pause, today, and for this next week.

We need to return to the basics.

 

The Muse enters in when we take a pause.

So look up.
Smell.
Taste.
Touch.
Feel.

Your life is a miracle.

Take in the wonder around you…..then express what is most alive in you.

 

 

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon

Magical Time

Sweet Creative Flow.

When everything comes easy.

Your fingers are gliding across your instrument
The words are pouring out of your pen
Your brush is moving with ease across the canvas
You click your camera just as the light illuminates

You are tapped in, and there is this energetic force running through you, and a deep fulfillment, because you are doing what you love….

AND IT’S EASY.

Looking at your Art, you know this is a true expression from YOU.

It’s like a sweet ocean breeze, right?

So, why do we so often experience this instead….

You’re staring at a blank computer screen
You feel overwhelmed and exhausted
The blank paper  or canvas is there and you are SO unmotivated

NOTHING IS COMING…..

Isn’t this what you love?
Isn’t this your passion?

What is the DEAL?

It may be something so simple, and yet this one thing can make the difference between you actually creating Great Art or remaining stuck.

The secret?

TIME.

 

Craig Ballantyne of The Perfect Day Formula defines this Flow state as, Magic Time.

It’s the actual time in your day when you are at your most Creative.

Any idea when that is?

If not, no worries!  Let’s play a game.

Take today, and write down what you are doing and how you are feeling throughout your day.  Craig likes to suggest using 20 minutes intervals.

When do you feel most alive?
When are you getting the most done?
When do you just want to curl up in a ball and sleep?

And the thing that’s most beautiful is, this is totally individual.

One of my clients is father to four energetic boys.  Morning time is with his sons, and at night he is on fire.  This is his Magic Time, and he’s using it to write his first book.

Another client finds morning are her Magic Time for writing, and then she feels deeply inspired to paint at night, so she has bookend Magic Times for her days.

What about you?

 

I love to write.  Sitting down every week to connect with you is a joy, however, I found I was having trouble.

My blog publishes on Fridays, and I would sit down on Thursday afternoons or evenings to write, and I was feeling crunched.

I was feeling stressed as I wrote, and found 2-3 hours would go by, and I was questioning a lot of what I was writing.

Ugh!

Have you ever felt like this?

Then, I decided to try something new, and had a total shift.

I woke up one Wednesday morning and decided to write first thing, before taking care of anything else in my business.

The result?

A blog post that flowed with ease in less than an hour.

Not only did this free up my very full Thursdays, it boosted my confidence, and gave me the space to fully explore and ENJOY my writing.

I discovered that my morning right after I meditate is my MAGIC TIME.

This is when I am at my least resistant, and most focused.  This makes the process more joyful, and the QUALITY of my work much higher.

Instead of wasting hours in indecision and frustration, I can get my writing done, and feel GOOD about it.

 

We are not meant to be at war with our Art.

Take a breath, and look at your Day.  What are you giving your time and energy to specifically, and stop trying to FORCE or PUSH.

What got you here won’t get you there.

If you are continually finding yourself stuck, there is always a reason and it’s TIME to try something new.

It’s time to tap in, and become intimate with what actually serves you.

Find your Magic Time, and give yourself the gift of using it.  Turn off your other distractions, and step into your full Creative Power.

Step into your Flow.