Category Archives: buddhism

Keys to Creativity Series: Part One Don’t Worry About the Outcome

Create Like Nobody’s Watching

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A year ago if you’d told me I would have been sitting out in public scribbling away in a notebook DRAWING (!!) I would have laughed… long and hard. And if you’d told me I would have posted my crude efforts, I would have told you to stop drinking so much.

After a somewhat chaotic year full of interruptions, distractions, and challenges, I am reapplying myself to my yoga studies with gusto. And while it may seem that yoga has nothing to do with creativity, I’m finding the opposite to be true. Part of the course I’m taking includes quite a lot of yoga philosophy (in case you are wondering, it’s the Kaivalya Yoga Method, 500 Hour Teacher Training through Yogadownload). To be honest, I thought that part (the philosophy bit) would make me a bit squirmy, something to endure, you know? But the reading and thinking about the philosophical aspects of yoga has actually been both inspiring and useful and I’m enjoying it more than I would have thought possible.

Yoga, Writing, Drawing, Acting, Art Journals, Collage, Creating: It’s all Related

 

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Collage in my art journal… yes, I’ve got one of those now. This was sort of an art meditation done while listening to a recording of a rolling om…

 

At the same time that I’ve been doing my down-dogs and studying anatomy and thinking about how ancient wisdom can still be very relevant in terms of dealing with the complexities of the modern age, I have also been madly productive on the writing front. I’m putting the finishing touches on the non-fiction book for teens about medical assistance in dying and working on fiddly details relating to the picture book that’s coming along beautifully with Holiday House (LOVE the preliminary sketches by the talented Katie Kath). Research has started for two more non-fiction titles for youth (one about civil disobedience, the other about global deforestation) and, of course, I continue to slowly work on the book about the three-generations Camino trip we did last fall.

Walk the Camino, Think About Creativity

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Though it has been slowest to progress, that project is the one that has a strong hold on my heart, in part because it had me examining my relationship with the creative process. Walking with Dad and Dani, the conversations Dad and I had about art and the creation of art before, during, and ever since our oh-so-slow stroll across Spain really got me thinking about what it means to be creative. What the word means as an adjective. And, as a noun. I’ve been referred to as ‘a creative,’ and that implies that creativity is some sort of integral component of my makeup.

We Are All Creative Children, Trapped in Over-critical Adult Bodies

 

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First attempt at a freehand mandala – on the cover of one of several yoga notebooks I’ve got happening at the moment (of course! where else would I attempt a freehand mandala?)

 

Aren’t we all creative? I think we all have some kernel of creativity within us. Just look at a kindergarten classroom and what happens when you set children loose with paint and blank sheets of paper. You can’t get the paint smocks on fast enough before the brushes are flying!

What happens to us to make us so afraid of exploring our natural desire to create? To explore? To play?

Let Go of the Outcome

My theory is that at some point we attach output with being good enough. If our drawing or painting or story or poem doesn’t measure up, then we have no right to be drawing or painting or writing. We become embarrassed to show our work to anyone else. We second guess our efforts and, before long, most of us give up. When asked, we say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I couldn’t draw to save my life.”

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You may be wondering what on earth all that messy art stuff has to do with yoga, but the connection is this. One of the things yoga philosophy has to say is that we spend way too much time attached to the outcome of an action, rather than just allowing ourselves to be fully engaged in whatever it is we are doing. All those poses and paying attention to our breath are about finding a way to tune out all the busy, negative, distracting, endless thoughts that plague us and having us fully enter and engage in the present moment. Does it matter if my triangle pose is a bit wonky and my drawings will never hang on a gallery wall? No. 

What my yoga studies (and recent explorations in visual art) have shown me is that creative output happens a lot more easily when you let go of worrying about how it will all turn out. It’s the process of creation that matters, exactly as it matters only that I embrace my yoga practice both on and off the mat. 

 

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Come – explore your creative side! Bust loose and send those doubts scurrying!

 

Come to Our Creativity Retreat in France!

If you are interested in exploring your creative side, why not join us next May at a really cool retreat we are organizing in Provence. We’ll be holing up in a pretty swanky villa with a small group of people who want to try their hand at painting, journaling, writing, collage, sketching… But more than that, we’ll be exploring what it means to embrace life creatively, no matter what form of expression you choose to pursue. And, yes, – there will be yoga to help fuel that process- every morning out by the pool. I can’t wait!

There’s more to this train of thought, but that’s why this is just Part 1. Stay tuned!

Full disclosure: If you happen to get all inspired and decide you’d like to sign up for the YTT course I mentioned above and you use the link in this post, I’ll get a small referral fee. If you have any questions about the program, shoot me a message and I’ll happily answer. I love the program and have learned a lot.

 

 

Day 4 – Bliss (Photo 101)

Choose Your Bliss

Define Bliss – Day 4 Photo 101 Challenge

Define my bliss. Hm. The Good Buddhist Answer would be that my bliss is wherever I find myself, that no one moment is better than any other moment, that all moments are contained in this singular eternity, this breath, this heartbeat.

Was it Churchill who said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."

Was it Churchill who said, There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.

But of course, bliss is easier come by in some places than others. For me, very often those moments of pure peace, contentment, and … yes, bliss are found outside – sailing, hiking, climbing, riding my horse, digging in the garden, paddling a kayak, surfing, snorkeling. Or, standing still at the edge of the ocean just as the rain begins to fall, or at the top of Lone Tree Hill, my jacket unzipped, the wind blowing through me, or beneath the crashing weight of a waterfall pouring off a cliff far above. Those are the moments when my molecular structure shifts a little, becomes less tied to the mundane (do I need to pick up a bottle of milk on the way home?) and more open to/intrinsically intertwined with/influenced by some fundamental organizing principle underlying all things in the universe.

My Bliss - Banff, Circa 1970

My Bliss – Banff, Circa 1970

I have heard it said that to find clues about where to find your current bliss you might want to return to those things that made you happy when you were a child. There I am in the mountains with my jacket unzipped, waiting for the wind to blow through me. I’m also with my brother, and I have certainly learned that there are few things more important for the attainment of deep contentment than time spent with those you love most.

Yoga by candlelight, on the path to bliss... (Photo: Ally Pony)

Yoga by candlelight, on the path to bliss… (Photo: Ally Pony)

That said, sometimes the most profound moments of peace are found in solitude, when there is nobody else to hear my breathing. Which, in a pleasing circular sort of way, brings me back to where I began this post – bliss as breath and breath as universe.

Wow. I should refrain from writing posts late at night! Fact is I am too tired after having had a wonderful afternoon sailing followed by dinner and a movie with my dear father to even attempt to sensibly reflect on the idea that ‘all moments are contained in this singular eternity…’ What the heck did I mean by that anyway?