Peace of Mindfulness and Car Alarms
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ― Gautama Buddha
“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
“But a true and accurate measurement of one’s self-worth is how people feel about the negative aspects of themselves.”
― Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Hi Creative Friends,
Yesterday, blissfully positioned in pigeon pose, (my favorite yoga asana), a car alarm went off in my neighborhood.
It kept going ON AND ON so I decided to try the practice of Tonglen. Here’s an explanation from the great reference guru, Wikipedia:
Tonglen is Tibetan for 'giving and taking' (or sending and receiving), and refers to a meditation ... In the practice, one visualizes taking in the suffering of oneself and of others on the in-breath, and on the out-breath giving recognition, compassion, and succor to all sentient beings.
So I breathed in the car alarm: the annoyance, intrusion, and the suffering of sound pollution, and breathed out peace and serenity to all living things.
And you know what?
It didn’t work a bit. Not tong bit.
So I went into a practice I’ve adopted and modified according to my own quirky needs: Mindfulness with a Creative Twist. Basically, there are times we can’t reframe, find the silver lining, or accept things with grace in their annoying, troubling form. It’s unrealistic and uses up a lot of energy we could be using for our creativity, plus, thinking we can overcome certain annoyances in life often creates indigestion and gas unless you’re an enlightened one, which you very well may be. I’m not. Do you have indigestion and gas? Read on.
If I've done all that I can to make a change toward the annoyance, the pain, regret, ineptness, or gas then I gracefully accept that I don’t like disturbing noises and that's okay. Life is always pleasing and as a recovering perfectionist I sometimes still think it should be until I remember I can’t fix everything to rainbows and unicorns, it’s unavailable as an option in this life. That’s where my mindfulness frees me, it's kind of a Buddhist thing.
Here’s how it looks:
I have high sensitivity to noise (and a whole host of other things as many of you creative people do too). I’m unable to realistically tune-out or accept the noise of car alarms, dogs barking, inconsiderate people talking loudly on cell phone, and leaf blowers. When I accept that they annoy me, I have more peace. It's the salve of common sense.
At first my mind can’t even wrap around this idea because I had the habit of going into radical annoyance, chronic crankiness, and “why is the world so unfair?” As I practiced accepting that I don’t have to like these things it began to neutralize the experience. Now after a few years of practice, I actually smile because it feels like a triumph to have found a solution. (Notice it doesn't work overnight, like anything creative it takes perseverance and practice ... and it doesn't have to be perfect).
I also apply it to things that break like favorite ceramics, illusions, and my heart; people who don’t like me, when I'm wrong, losing constantly at Words with Friends to Linda Mushka, the way the world can be so cruel, and any other problem that tries to steal my joy. I share it here in case it might work for you too. We need our energy for our creative passions.
Creativity Out There in the Cyberland:
Draw something soothing:
Tap your keyboard and make music
Seeing Eyed Dogs for Love Blindness
Dog caught in the wake of a wish on a dandelion
Hi Creative Friends,
"I believe when you stand in the middle of the driveway and wish upon a star for a handsome prince, you get bit by a mosquito and your mom tells you to come in and get a sweater." ~Me at 10 years old
I just recently had my heart broken. All the red flags were there, but ... you know ... love being blind and all. I needed two Seeing Eye Dogs for Love Blindness like the ones below. (They are blind memory drawings because I love how it looks when I draw without looking, it frees me from having to be perfect like I was expected to be in that relationship).
I need to look closer before I give my heart but when I take a risk and it doesn't work out, it's fodder for my first love - creativity. Out of the broken heart emerged these seeing eye dogs for blind love ^, (I drew big noses on them so they could sniff out the imposters including myself), this funny speech, a blues song I quite fancy (lyrics available upon request), and a renaissance of creativity as I returned to my own authenticity -- which, despite my tenure as a self-help author, I compromised.
And yet I am still a hopeless romantic, I still believe in princes, I'm still nine years old in my heart. I never want to lose the innocence and imagination that goes into wishing but at this age I know that if those wishes don't come true, or if the idea doesn't translate, if the result of sharing my work does live up to my wish, if I don't get the writing residency in Taos... I'll be okay. I'll wake up and create again. I'll love again. I'll laugh.
I'll write and even dance.
In the creative process we create more than the writing and the art. We create ourselves as more powerful beings. I've built my tolerance muscle in the creative process for Things Not Turning Out As I Wish - and that muscle now applies to life and saves me from sinking in a quick sand of despair. I don't pretend to be happy when things don't work out, but I can accept that I don't have to always like it when that happens, life is full of loss and pain. And grace and joy.
I shall go to Scotland in August and visit the castles ....
“Love is a circular emotion that surrounds you, like a hug. Or a noose.” ― Jarod Kintz
“My love is meatloaf flavored. I just wish my meatloaf was also meatloaf flavored.” ― Dora J. Arod
“I run like I have cirrus clouds for legs and rainbow knees. What is life, if not a marathon of love?
” ― Jarod Kintz
It's Monday: Thought You Could Use a Hummingbird
When you are convinced that all the exits are blocked,
either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.
The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose,
only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realize it.
The worst is not death but being blind,
blind to the fact that everything about life
is in the nature of the miraculous.
~Henry Miller, Miraculous kind of an enlightened writer guy
Concerning that quote up there^ by Henry Miller? If you want it right under your nose, it's in the front of my book, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).
I found it important enough to put there because reading it shifts my entire existence ... sort of like a miracle does ... kind of like imagination can ... certainly how inspired thinking will when I remember to apply it to my life.
When I forget about the creative powers we have, I am convinced the exits are blocked:
The exits from heartache, the endless inner-loop of the blathering high-pressured commands, or irritable anxiety about the current destabilization of our country. The exits from growing old, from all the mistakes I made, from the constant inner taunting of "I'm not enough" are blocked... But they're not.
There's a door that opens the same time our mind does. EXACTLY. Time it.
When I pay attention to all I have and all I am right now, I can to choose to do what I love, instead of feeling forced to do anything in any way... period. I can defy the trance of never feeling enough and experience the bliss of enough.
When I pay attention to the flight of the hummingbird, the purr of the new kitten, the way the soundtrack in a movie transports me to a mood, the way a mood moves me to a poem, the way a poem heals my pain, and the way caramelized onions taste so much better than the grilled ones, I am in concert with the little miracles of being alive which is much better than staring at the graffiti on the doors I've perceived closed.
The creative mind gifts us with defining miracles however our we choose and in doing so, being in constant wonder instead of chronic crankiness. Creativity is a miraculous antidote to the craziness in the world.
And all it takes is a question: What's one small step I can take next in my passion and can I do it without putting a lot of pressure on myself because it's the pressure that leads to resistance)? Okay, that was two questions and some parentheses.
Or have a five minute tryst with your creativity's passion - see where it leads.
Albert Einstein said, "There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle."
What would it feel like to believe just 5% more in the miracle?
Some interesting links:
The Miracle of Paying Attention
The Magic of Perseverance Elephant-style
Workshops and Trainings
It's Monday, Do You Know Where Your Strange Jewels Are?
Hi Creative Friends,
Elizabeth Gilbert writes:
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
When I sit with that quote for a moment, maybe even close my eyes and imagine strange jewels waiting to be found, I become eager to take a step in my writing. I know I have the courage, but I get stuck with all the mental games my blocks rally around so that step needs to be tiny or like a defiant child, I won't take it.
If I berate myself for not showing up sooner or if the step is not broken down so small it's hard not to do it, chances are I'll resist, procrastinate, crumble into disappointment and eat a lot of cashews. This does not beget more diligence. I'll check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email and repeat - ad infinitum and then not respect myself for the time that will never be again. I don't think to myself... "Ack, too much pressure, I think I'll swerve to the hollow reward of immediate gratification," I just do it because it's a habit and feels familiar.
I now have new habits that lead to more creative contentment and productivity.
I remember to show-up for with the small step of simply opening a document or setting up my space for art supplies. Or I take a walk and daydream about what next step I could take. Those are my habits. Making it mechanical makes it enticing and easy. Trying to motivate myself with the thought, "I shall now create a masterpiece like no other" make it intimidating The rest takes care of itself because I've started a very low pressure momentum and am so dazzled by the possible strange treasures to discover, that I stay and unearth them.
What tiny mechanical step can you take to start a treasure bound momentum?
Nurture your creativity. Here's a 45 minute workshop from Mother's Day.
Creative Call + Deep Longing = Overcoming Resistance
All sorts of subterranean dynamics ranging from messages we received in early childhood to our concentration hijacked habitually by fixations with media and the refrigerator are stealing our time and rendering us creatively pissed. I either have to abide to my creative calling or be cranky. It's a law.
Creative call + do something to answer it = content, generous, kind, energetic, cordial, witty, insightful (at times, grandiose)
Creative call + ignore/avoid/resist it = cranky
Kahlil Gibran said: There is a space between man’s imagination and
mans attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.
- Evidently longing is important for traversing big spaces.
- How's your longing doing?
- Does it need to be longer, deeper, more nourished?
- Take a moment now, (I'll wait), and recall why you were drawn to the whatever endeavor you may not be getting to as much as you'd like. What was the allure in the first place?
- Write it down, obsess about it, think about it constantly. (For the next several decades)
- This question works in marriage counseling -- creativity is like a relationship:
What drew you and your creativity together in the first place?
- Remember what it feels like when you're in that timeless, ageless flow with your creative passion. You can do this while showering, walking, feeding the cat, or shaving.
- Or other activities work as well.
- This exercise ramps up your longing.
- Evidently longing is important for traversing.
- Simply ask: What would it feel like to render distractions useless by ramping up my longing?
- You may need to tweak your focus, your approach, your technique just a tad so it best matches up with what would spark a more passionate devotion.
- Remember what has worked in the past- it has treasures, strength, and proven successes handy for application to the present.
Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching