On Devotion to Creativity: A Life, A Path

On Devotion to Creativity: A Life, A Path

I Am Devoted to Beauty and Creation

Some days all i can truly do is write. It’s all i can do truly, with a whole heart, with devotion. This is what’s given to me, and it’s a lot.

What jewels have been laid in my hands—I am awestruck, fascinated, dutiful, grateful. How could i possibly organize my life any differently than around these jewels?

Writing is my listening, how i tune my ear to the worlds, all of them—or whichever chooses to haunt me now.

Beauty is incredibly important to me. To actually capture beauty in the hand for a moment, more than once, more than just a lucky break, that takes deep work, to devote your life to something.

I’m interested in devotion, that profound movement of the heart—offering, sacrifice, surrender. How much it takes and how much it gives us in return. You can’t force it or fake it. It has to arise organically in the heart. But you can commit yourself to it consciously, once you feel it start.

Devotion is like a small, worthy boat that holds and carries us across waters now stormy, now calm, so that we can see astonishing lands, become salt-worn, washed whole, a part of sea and sky.

Creativity Is Not a Chore

by Averie Woodard

Creativity is not something i make myself do. It’s something i open myself to do.

I tend the garden, create the right conditions, the proper soil, show up lovingly, and work with my hands in the dirt, grateful for rain when it comes, grateful for sun, for blossoms and ripe fruit. I’m happy to tend to the slow care of picking caterpillars off the stems, cutting away the dead heads and stalks, mulching with the unused portions, watering daily. I know the seeds will flower in time.

Why would i complain about the work of creating? I’m honored to be given these seeds, this plot of ground, this longing. And entranced by the miracle of growth, new life—every time. Entranced by the process of growth and the care it takes to create art. Entranced to be in my garden of creativity, feet muddy, knees in the soil, dirt under my nails.

This is the place i feel most home, most right, at peace, one with all, belonging—even in the struggles. Outside my garden of creation there are precious few places i feel as well. Ritual is one of them, any kind of communion with the All, being in nature, around a fire, and often when i am teaching.

But, that garden of creation and communion is my first home, my path of devotion, my sacred work, my divine play.

Explore Devotion, That Magic Power

What are you truly devoted to in your life? What do you give your whole heart to, sacrifice time, money or other opportunities to follow?

What are the rewards of that devotion?

What do you care about or want more of in your life that you could be more devoted to? How would you express that devotion?

You may wish to journal about these questions, to dive deeply into them and see what arises for you. Remember, devotion is a movement of the heart. It’s not another “should.”

Please share your responses in the comments below, so we can continue the conversation.

And if you liked what you read here, share this post with a friend using the share buttons below. Help me spread the love.

To your devoted life,

 

 

The Power of Ritual: Tending Your Creative Fire, Part 1

The Power of Ritual: Tending Your Creative Fire, Part 1

[This post in the first in a two-part series on Tending Your Creative Fire and getting started creating.]

Getting started with creative activity is the very hardest part.

We say we want to write, paint, sculpt, make films, sing, but when it comes to actually doing it, we procrastinate and distract ourselves endlessly, never seeming to get around to it.

And thus, another day goes by when we aren’t living our dreams. We beat ourselves up about it, but that doesn’t do any good.

So how do you get yourself to actually sit down at the piano or your desk, enter your studio, stand at your easel, pick up the pen, or doing anything else you love to do?

Two Extremely Helpful Practices To Get You Creating

Two things will help you most to get started creating each time:

1) A regular creative practice at the same day/same time each week, so that it becomes an unquestioned habit (nothing helps more than this). See my post on The Power of Creative Routines for more about this.

2) A way into the creative activity itself, a way to begin.

In this essay and the next one, I address the second step above. I talk about ways to help yourself get started once you are in the studio. However, these tools will also reduce resistance to getting yourself there in the first place. (To find out more about getting yourself into the studio, read my essay on Resistance to Creating.)

Create a Simple Ritual to Invoke Your Muse

Altarish2_MichaelDuliba

Photo by Michael Duliba

Create a regular way to enter into your creative practice. A simple ritual is helpful. Simple is, most often, best, so that your ritual doesn’t become yet another hindrance to doing creative work.

The ritual serves to alert you that you are entering a different state of being, one set apart from the workaday world, you are opening yourself to the creative flow, making yourself available to greater powers to flow through.

The ritual is like a gateway you pass through to enter the creative state. It announces your availability to your muse.

I like to light a candle, ring a small bell, and say a short prayer. Sometimes I also fill a bowl with water and a few drops of essential oils and wash my hands in a symbolic act. In this way, I evoke my physical senses and engage my whole being in the creative act to come.

Take a Moment to Connect

In whatever ritual you choose, take a moment to connect to the following three things:

  1. Your reason for creating—what it gives you, why you love it, why it matters. This is what I call your Deep Why.
  2. A promise and commitment to yourself to not judge what happens during your creative time that day—not the work itself, nor how much you did or did not do, nor your abilities or talent.
  3. A sense of offering up your work in service to something larger than yourself. This may be the world, others who will benefit from it, the Divine, or art and beauty itself. In other words, detach from your ego’s ambitions and attachments to the work and reconnect to a deeper purpose.

It only takes a minute or two to connect to these three things, and they will help you be motivated and free to create from a place of love and giving, and keep your ego mind more quiet, so that you can do the work/play.

At the end of my creative time, I have a little ritual of closure to mark my transition back to the so-called ordinary world. I ring the bell again, blow out the candle, and pour the water in the bowl onto the earth outside.

Ritual Helps Us Enter the Creative State

Full disclosure: I don’t always do my ritual. Sometimes I resist the ritual itself. Often I simplify it to just lighting a candle and ringing a bell.

But I find the ritual helps me in small, subtle ways to cross a threshold into creativity and to sanctify the time and activity, making me less apt to get distracted or off-course or to postpone starting.

The ritual also reminds me that I do the work not for my sake alone, but for a greater purpose, that my art is meant to serve others and the Divine. It gives me a moment to reconnect to this larger purpose and helps me put my ego aside and dive into connection with something larger than me and more meaningful, and that, at the same time, is motivating and inspiring to me.

Your Ritual Needs to be Right for You

Meditating person

Photo by Dingzeyu Li

Bottom line: Your ritual needs to work for you and suit your nature. It could be going for a walk or doing yoga before your creative time. Coming into the body and getting the energy flowing is very helpful because our creative energy is our life force energy, or chi, and it helps to have that flowing.

Your ritual might be as simple as clearing off your desk before sitting down to write, removing distractions. Some artists put on a special piece of clothing each time or their favorite music. Some simply begin by making a strong cup of tea or coffee. Many have superstitious and strange habits that work to signal their muse to show up.

Your ritual need not be elaborate, and it is essential that it works for you. By “works for you” I mean it suits your nature, and it does not become another obstacle to creativity. Your ritual should help you to enter the creative state, to invoke your creativity and inspiration and set aside your self-judgments, doubts and preoccupations with the rest of life for the time being. You may need to experiment a bit to find a ritual you like.

In our next issue of Creative Sparks, I give you some bright ideas to help you overcome the blank page/blank canvas syndrome and get creating. Click here to read Part 2 of this series on Tending Your Creative Fire.

To your creative fire,

Maxima

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