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

Overcoming Criticism and Rejection

Have you ever had a horrible performance and just wanted to hide?
Have you ever gone out on a limb with your work and had it completely rejected?

It can feel awful, right?

Maybe you spent a lot of time on your art, and were SO excited to share it with your audience, only to either hear crickets, or even worse, be shredded in criticism.

From the criticism comes a flooding of doubt, and I imagine you feel like your confidence is nonexistent.

As you are working on your next project or performance, you can feel that voice coming up saying,
I don’t know what I’m doing
They’re just going to hate it…

And you begin to question everything you’re doing, and your creative process goes from a place of joy to one filled with stress and anxiety.

You may even stop your work, paralyzed in place for fear of being booed, judged, and rejected,

How do you get past this block?
How do you regain confidence and feel amazing again?

 

This past weekend I went for marriage counseling with my fiance up at Zen Mountain Monastery.  We met with the Abbott, Shugen, who has been a guiding light for me since my divorce.

To have counseling, we had to meet in the Abbott’s room, and as I walked in, a huge realization came over me.

I had only been in this room once before, and it was five years ago. 

When I walked into this room five years ago, it was to have my first ever face to face teaching with a Zen teacher.  I was participating in the Intro to Zen Training weekend, and my heart was in my throat.  I was barely able to choke out my burning question of ‘how do I let go??’…..I wept that whole weekend and I was coming to grips with losing my home, marriage, and possible motherhood.

I felt shaky, unsure, and fragile. I was dealing with the largest rejection of my life.….hearing I was no longer loved or wanted.

Same room……

Now I was walking in hand in hand with my fiance, planning my actual ceremony in this Monastery.

Same room…..

I could barely conceive this was possible five years ago.  I though the rejection would destroy me. And the whole energy of the room was different for me.  There was more space, the room felt larger, and I felt so at ease.

Space and ease.

Maybe it wasn’t the room.

 

So, how do you find this in those heartbreaking moments of rejection?
How do you return to the same “room” and have different results?

 

As I sat in the chair facing Shugen, and looking at my life partner, one word came into my head,
CHANGE

Change is constant.

When I was facing the most devastating rejection of my life, this was my mantra. I learned I had been wrong for years…I thought things would always be the same.  I thought things were permanent….like my marriage, my home, and my performance fears.

I thought I would always suffer in the same places, choke on the big auditions, and not get picked for the roles I really wanted.

And yet…..I watched it all change.

My marriage I thought I would have forever….end.
My apartment I thought I would have children in…be sold and bought by a new couple.

And as I accepted this change, I found it freed me to take larger risks in my art, and a thought occurred…
What if I DID get picked for the roles I wanted?
What if I could give my best performance regardless of outside pressure?

What IF I could return to audition rooms and stages where I had been rejected before and now shine?

At first it was a sliver of an opening….a simple energy I took into my performance, and with each new song and dance, I would try it out….one day at a time.

And then I watched my whole performance career return, and directors and choreographers offering jobs and roles I was excited about!

I went in for a big Broadway audition where the pianist played the music horribly….and I wasn’t phased.  This was a HUGE difference from before when I would have been derailed and left feeling dejected.

 

So, when was the last time you felt criticized and rejected in your Art?

Take a moment and allow yourself to feel the disappointment.
Close your eyes, and place your hand on your heart or belly.
Connect to your breath, and allow the feeling to rise, and then fall.

So often, the strong emotion just wants to be acknowledged.  Often times, once we accept it and offer love, the feeling disappears.

Change.  It’s there and then it’s gone.

Turns out, it’s not permanent. It doesn’t last.

If this can happen with a feeling, it can happen in your Art.

It can happen in your performance, and how you are received by your audience. That criticism can change and WILL change when you return again and again with the intention of making great work.

You are becoming and changing in every moment, and what a miracle!
You feeling stuck is only a bump in the road.

Come back to your inspiration and your vision of what you want to SAY as an Artist.

Same room…..filled with space and ease.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography