Letting go of old stories.

I have a handwritten note taped to my office door alerting those passing by to be quiet when I’m in meditation. I thought it would be fun to make a more decorative sign that I could flip over when not in use so I pulled out the paints and collage elements and thought that would be a good project to acquaint me with the materials.

At this age in my life I hear the voices in my head telling me that I’ll never master a new medium, and they are discouraging. I know they are lying. While I crave the idea of mastering something I also know that I have to start somewhere. I fight back with the voices telling them that it’s not about mastery, or being good at something. It’s about having fun and indulging in something that is enjoyable to me.

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So, I sat down and I started. I have to keep reminding myself that it takes time, and layers, to get to an end product that I will like. As I pasted and painted I don’t see an end result but I keep going. It’s like life. You keep adding experiences along the way. If you keep trying to see the end result you miss what is happening in the moment. You are also spending your time trying to control things into a very narrow focus. If you do that, you don’t let yourself to see what could happen along the way. You let your brain tell you where to go instead of experiencing maybe something better that you’re not being open to.

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That all sounds pretty nebulous, but it resonates inside me. Where I am right now is a place of exploration. Of letting go of control. Following my heart rather than trying to limit and force things. Seeing what is there to come out. As with the paintings, they’re works in progress, as is  life. It might, probably, turn out to be something I would have never dreamt of or expected if I can just let it evolve naturally. I feel like I’ve dipped my toe in, and while it can be scary to think about plunging in fully, It’s exciting too.

It’s hard to let go of old habits but like I’ve heard, it’s just one decision away. Time to let go of old stories. Maybe putting them on the pages will release them.

Observations of a new meditation practice.

imageDespite having known about it for years and years, I’m sharing my experience of engaging in a regular practice of meditation. I share it now because I know that once I’ve been doing it for a good long time these observations will become second nature and it won’t seem like anything special. It will just be, and that is already starting to happen.

Simple sitting with eyes closed, focusing on the breath and then focusing on a point between the eyebrows. When thoughts come up, telling myself to let them float by, coming back to the point of focus.

At some point in the process above you “drop in.” That is, your brain goes into a different wave pattern. Alpha state is, I believe, what is reached. You notice the shift and then you can sit and watch what goes on in your inner vision.

Anyway, what I have noticed about myself since implementing a regular practice is that I don’t get hooked into things, I’m less reactive. Whereas I would once jump in and respond immediately to something someone says, or a situation, I see myself sitting back and letting it rest. I’m not thinking about what to say or do in reaction but, am still and sit with it. The interesting part about that is that when you don’t react, the other person, or situation unfolds more and it works itself out. I don’t mean that everything fixes itself but the other person will continue, express themselves and they might work through what they originally came to you with.

I’ve noticed that people like to talk and don’t always need or want a solution or response. Sometimes they just need to get it out or hear themselves say it out loud. Reacting or responding can take a conversation down a rabbit hole that isn’t necessary. My reaction or input isn’t really wanted or needed, even if they think it is what they want. Sitting still and letting them express themselves works better than trying to fix it or figure it out for them. They have their own answers too. For me, it feels like a relief. Less work and unnecessary brain power, being able to stay in my calm while in a conscious state.

I also have noticed more focus. My brain is being trained to stay on target. I’m not as focused as I’d like to be but I do notice that I am doing things that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time such as decluttering things around me. Whereas once it seemed overwhelming, I’m doing it little by little, and it feels good.

I am noticing that I appreciate things around me more. I know it sounds corny but driving and noticing the landscape around me brings me a sense of peace and appreciation. When your brain is always working and thinking about something else it is hard to appreciate what is all around you and what is around you is full of life and beauty. That feels so foreign coming out of my mouth but I like the change. It’s easy to go on a hike up and away from everything and notice the beauty but driving down the road, to an appointment or somewhere you don’t really want to go, and enjoying the trees or the sky or even the car in front of you is a wonderful feeling. I believe this is the byproduct of my brain being trained to be in the present moment. It’s a pretty cool place to be.

I’ve learned a lot about presence. They say, notice each step you take, the feel of each foot touching the ground. When you start to do it in a ‘fake it till you make it’ way it feels weird. What I’ve noticed is that now, I’m doing it spontaneously. Just a second ago I picked up my coffee cup and noticed the feel of it in my hand as I took a sip, and enjoyed the taste. I know it sounds like a little thing and what the heck could that possibly have to do with anything. When you start to feel it or experience it though, it’s profound.

Don’t write me off as crazy until you experience it yourself. Every tap of my fingers on the keyboard, when noticed, feels good. Having eyes open in a way to see more than just that picture on the wall in front of me, taking in the essence of what is around me is a phenomenal feeling. I guess that is what expanded consciousness feels like. I am in that place now and it comes and goes. The more I practice, the more it stays.

Presence = Inspiration = Flow

I’ve sworn off goals, and have even sworn off that thing that people do now instead of goals–choosing a word to guide their year. Today I’m changing my mind on that because a word recently grabbed my heart. A word that is tossed around but doesn’t get the respect or ponderance that it deserves.

Inspiration.

Everyone has felt inspired at some point in their lives but just today I realized that inspiration is the definition of being in the flow. That place where everything else melts away and you are in the moment. The place where, whatever you’re doing, you feel like you could do it forever, where everything feels right in your world, in your being.

Just thinking about times when I’ve felt inspired I can feel the sense of liveliness that I experienced. Maybe it’s walking around an art show and seeing work that touches me, or sparks an idea. Seeing rich colors or textures. Being on a hike, away from everything where the air is clear and there’s no buzzing cells towers or wifi interfering with my brain waves.

Think of a time when you felt inspired. You know what I’m talking about. But then we come home, plop ourselves in our chairs or in front of the TV and the inspiration flees. Or, you get home and sit down to create and you go blank. What just happened? You left the present moment and became unaware. Unconscious. Maybe you started thinking about everything you have to do, or things in the past. You let yourself become distracted.

To be inspired, you must be in the present moment. It sounds so simple but it is easier said than done. And for most of us it sounds so … whatever. It has taken me years to grasp what that means. You have to be ready for it. Sometimes it comes in a flash, other times, not so much. It is where I want to live and, if you ever try it for a while, you’ll understand why. I envy people who seem to be able to live in that place. I have to remember that I can live there too…I just have to train myself to get back to that child-like place until it is natural for me again.

So, my word, my mantra: Inspiration. Being fully present in the moment, seeking inspiration in everything. Everything. A flower, the mess on my desk, the kids hanging off my back, the floor that is peeling in the studio and costing me another $1,000. To be with it and open to it. Let it be what it is and soak it in. Those things may not spark a great work of art, but being fully conscious with them keeps the heart open, and when your heart is open, that is when creativity flows.

The second you bring yourself out of it (and it is NOT easy to stay in that place, but gets easier the more you train your brain to return to it) you can feel it. You can feel the difference between being in the flow and the dull, deadened feeling when it passes. I have to remind myself that I can always come back to it, and that is the beauty of presence. It is always there. It is all that is there.

Inspiration. Think about it. Be with it. Give it the reverence it deserves.