Your Creative Team

Do you have a part of you that you wish you could get rid of?
Do you have a part of you that it would feel SO amazing to just put them on a permanent vacation?

Perhaps you feel it gets in the way of your Art.  Maybe you’ve even given it a name, like:
Inner Critic
Procrastinator
Perfectionist

Maybe it’s a voice in your head that slows you down when you really want to GO, or speeds you up and causes you to get overwhelmed when you really want to just take it slow or watch Netflix.

It can be really frustrating, right?

You may see you are not where you want to be with your Art, and all you have is this pattern of disappointment and it can be super easy to just BLAME this part of you.

That’s what’s wrong, right?
If this was FIXED and just went away, all would be perfect!

So, how come every time we try to banish this voice away, it just comes back, sometimes stronger than before?
Will this cycle ever stop?

Last weekend I had a first.

I did my first ever weekend-long silent meditation retreat.

I’m a practicing Zen Buddhist.  Zen saved my life after a devastating year of loss back in 2013, and I’ve been practicing ever since with the Mountains and Rivers Order, mostly in Brooklyn at the Fire Lotus Temple.

This meditation retreat is called a Sesshin and means, “touching the heart-mind”.

I’ve been wanting to do a Sesshin for two years, so this was a long time coming and I entered the temple last Friday very ready.  Ready to sit.  Ready to be with myself.

It’s been an intense time for me, and feels like it’s been non stop for longer than I can remember with moving to NJ last year, planning and getting married, planning a huge online event for thousands, and then creating four more big events and workshops culminating in a full class of my signature program for professional artists, the Fearless Academy.

Did I mention in the middle of all this I also sustained a nasty calf injury, and got incredibly sick?
Did I mention during this time of stress I couldn’t dance or do yoga as stress relief?
Did I mention I’ve had a cough now for over 5 weeks?

Oh….and I’m also family planning.

Just a few things going on.

In the face of all this, I was VERY ready to just sit in silence.  I knew I needed space.

The first night was a healing balm and I slept deeply Friday.  We woke up at 4:20 am and I was on my cushion by 4:55.  This was where I wanted to be, and I could feel my whole body and mind relaxing.

But there was something that was plaguing me….the real reason I was here.

When I had face to face teaching with my teacher, I sat down across from him and said,
I have a question about my inner taskmaster.

He smiled right away and said,
Ah yes…..also known as the Controller.

I immediately felt myself tighten.  I hated that word. 

My teacher spoke into parts of himself that come up for him, and he referenced his inner Protector, which is him as a young boy on the streets of NYC with a knife.  He shared his Protector is fierce. Then he asked,
What do you think your Controller wants?

I said,
Faith.
Trust.
She wants to know everything is going to be ok.

My teacher looked at me, and said,
Are you sure?

He started to ask me if she actually wants love, and I could feel myself getting even tighter.  I thought of my incredible husband, and how much love he gives me.  I could feel myself inside screaming,
She doesn’t want LOVE, she just wants everything to be in order and OK!

I was getting even tighter.  This was hard for me.  Control had ruined my life, my former marriage, and so many aspects of my professional career. In the face of my divorce, and losing everything the biggest lesson I desperately wanted to learn was how to LET GO.  Trying to control my ex, my career, and people around me was exhausting and ultimately tore my life in two.  Clearly it didn’t work.

I didn’t WANT her here anymore.  She had ruined so much in my life.

Can you relate?

My teacher spoke into how his Protector will always be there. And as I sat there struggling, he asked me,
If your Controller doesn’t want love, then why is she such a bitch?

And then I got it…..I was actually making my Controller wrong.  I was saying she doesn’t belong. 
Oh my gosh….she actually did just want to be loved.

I went back out into the Zendo to sit with the others and we chanted the Identity of Relative and Absolute. My voice completely lodged in my throat as I couldn’t speak,
Each thing has it’s own intrinsic value
And is related to everything else in function and position

My mouth was forming the words I knew by heart with no sound…tears were streaming down my face as I realized,

My Controller has her own value.
She allows me to get things done.
She helps me with discipline and organization.
She helps me with deadlines, and is really the reason I have built my business to six figures.
AND she is related to ALL the other parts of me!

She is related to my creative goddess, my Zen practitioner, my feminine flow….
and they all co-exist inside me.

They don’t cancel each other out.  I can have her there WITH the others. She’s doing her job and they are doing theirs and it’s the unified effort that allows me to create the life I want.

All having their value.

And the reason I was suffering so much, was because I was making her wrong.

And I thought of what I have said to all of you so many times,
It’s not about cutting off pieces of yourself and making them wrong, it’s about bringing all of you into wholeness and integration.  This is where you will have your greatest power as an Artist and create the greatest connection with your audience.

Perhaps I say this to all of you, because I need to hear it again too.

So, what part of you have you wanted to banish?

If you stepped into that part, what do you think they want for you?
What are they here to help you with?

If you could bring love and acceptance to this part, and allow it to work WITH your other parts, what would this free you to be, do, or create this year?

What if your greatest work actually came from using ALL of you?
Did you know you actually have a team within you now to pull from?

What if you knew HOW to use them effectively?

Start with love.
It can really be that simple.

“Seek Delight in All”

Your Creative work is an expression of the whole.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

When Your Inspiration Runs Dry

You know that moment when everything is just FLOWING?

The perfect words are coming out of your mouth or onto the page
The perfect stroke out of your brush
The song is just soaring…

It’s EASY….

You feel like an unlimited and unstoppable Creative Force, ideas pouring out. 

Isn’t that glorious?

But, what about when you’re stuck?
What about when, no matter how hard you try, NOTHING is coming?

When the cursor is just blinking at you on your computer, or your throat closes when you need to speak, or the canvas just sits empty in front of you, as if to say,
Ummm…Hello?? Anybody there? We’re waiting for your genius…..

Doubt has come in that you will never have another brilliant idea again, and all you can think is,
How the HECK do I get out of here?
Why was this so easy before and now is so hard?

If there was a muse, she has left the building, and there you are, now alone feeling stuck and hopeless.

Have you ever felt this?

When we are mired down and completely uninspired, how do we turn it around and get back into flow?

 

I have a few things on my plate these days.  Just gave my first ever Move the Crowd Workshop last week (thank you to all who came!), am planning my next big online event, and I’m getting married in two weeks.

I’m deeply grateful for all of this, AND I’m holding a big container.

With so much needing my attention, I could feel my mind squeezing….my inspiration waning.  And I needed it most now.  I actually had one of the most important things of my life to write…

My wedding vows.

I learned very quickly that I don’t write well under pressure or when I’m exhausted. So, I was looking at my calendar and starting to panic.

For those that are new to the community, this marriage is a miracle.  Five years ago I went through a devastating divorce and the worst year of my life, watching all I had built burn to the ground.

I went on the first date of my LIFE at 38, because I had met my ex at 18.  I had a LOT to learn, to heal, and laid myself at so many coaches, mentors, and teacher’s feet to learn HOW to find love again.

I thought I knew what love was….until I met my fiance.

From losing everything five years ago to now living in a house, I’m about to marry a man who not only shares my Zen practice and does yoga with me, he completely supports me and my work.  He’s every vision board I made over the years come true.

This is no small thing, and the first time I got married, at the tender age of 22, the vows were written for me.  I just repeated the words.  They were not my own.

This time, for the FIRST time, I’m writing them. These are my words.

So, it matters…it matters deeply.

For weeks, I’ve felt stuck around what to write, and as each day was passing, I was starting to get more and more anxious.  I’m going to be standing in front of my closest friends and family….I’m going to be FACING the man I’m spending the rest of my life with….

What the HECK am I going to say?

 

Last Saturday, I did a Half Day meditation sit at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn.

Our teacher started the day with these words,
I’ve been reflecting lately that we really don’t know what’s going on.  We come to the cushion with our minds racing, and thought after thought pulling us here and there.  Then we sit, and our mind settles, and everything changes.  And it’s not a KNOWING…it’s an experience.  We actually don’t KNOW what’s going on, but it happens. 

This resonated with me, my racing mind, and my anxiety about writing the vows.

So, I sat.
I placed my attention on my breath.
And I practiced letting go, again and again.
I saw each thought as it arose, and released it.
I felt every emotion as it coursed through my body.

And then, I relaxed, and an image came.

When the day was over, I grabbed a pen and paper and just started writing.

One of my friends came up to me and said,
Oh wow….a lot came up, huh?

I took a moment from my racing pen and said,
This is what happens every time I do a longer period of sitting.  What felt impossible suddenly opens.  Where I had no ideas, I now have clarity.  I always walk out knowing exactly what to do next.

And then I said,
It’s really the creative process.

 

Could we even really explain what happens in that moment of inspiration? Probably not.  The words wouldn’t do ti justice, but you’ve FELT it.  You’ve felt the flow from inside to out.  It’s not logical, it’s not planned….it’s far more magical.

And yet, where it won’t come from, is a place of pressure, clinging or control.

You can’t grasp it.  There’s nothing to hold, actually.

Inspiration is actually an EXPERIENCE.
Creative Flow is an EXPERIENCE.

It’s not something you lock in a cage and demand from.  It’s not something you can “think” or “logic” your way out of. Flow moves and breathes.  It’s alive.

So, what is really vital to the creative process?

SPACE.
RELAXATION.

When you are feeling completely stuck, step back.  Take a break.  Go outside and connect to the sky, or hold your hand over your belly, and do three deep breaths.  When you do this, all the whirling stops, and you can connect back to your unlimited spaciousness inside.

And from the space comes the inspiration.  And with inspiration, comes the flow.

What helps you to create space in your life?
How can you incorporate this into your life?

We have so much pulling us today as Creative Forces: family, emails, health, constant notifications.

I learned VERY quickly in my business, I needed to schedule in Half Day Sits at the temple at least every two months.  And last weekend, it was proven to me again.

The day after the sit, I sat out in my backyard in the August sunshine, and wrote my vows.

I cried when my pen lay down, because there were just what I wanted.  These were the words I wanted to say. The doubt and pressure disappeared….and all that came from my pen was the intention I had all along,
LOVE.

So, trust the experience of space, and incorporate this into your life.  Invite the muse in openly.  She will frolic and play in the vastness.

When you are open and relaxed, your perfect and truest work will emerge.
 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography