The creative process is a reflection of our internal world - our struggles, our fears, our passions, our joys. There is an endless amount of information we can gather from the thoughts and feelings that arise in us when we face a blank page or canvas. This morning, I sat down to do a creative meditation - to sketch whatever comes to mind and see what unfolds.
And today, everything flowed - the image in my mind easily translated to the page, I liked the colors on the paper, and I simply kept sketching and coloring until the image felt complete. I found myself having fun throughout the whole process and this totally threw me off! Wasn't I supposed to screw something up? Wrestle with something I didn't like? Judge a choice I made in this process? It can't be *this* enjoyable, I thought... maybe I'm doing this wrong? Hmmm.
Buddhists tell us that life is suffering - and often it is, from little daily annoyances to intense grief. Sometimes we can get so used to living in the midst of some struggle or another — some pain, drama, ever-repeating lesson — that when there is no struggle, we aren't quite sure what to do with ourselves. We actually feel uncomfortable. Gay Hendricks calls this an Upper Limit Problem — when we only allow ourselves to be so happy or successful or for things to be so easy before we start doubting, sabotage things, and seek out the old familiar struggle or pain. Oh yes, I've danced this dance before. Can you relate?
I realized I needed to give myself permission to simply experience the ease and joy I was feeling while I sketched today so, I did - and it was really fucking nice. The hope here is that having now experienced this with my sketch, when the stakes are higher and I hit my upper limit out in the world, I can remember this experience and more easily give myself permission to feel joy, success, or ease. This is what this creative practice work is all about.
I’m honestly pretty bad at plain old meditation. I prefer some form of active, creative meditation which has often taken the form of coloring in coloring books. I was recently coloring and was reminded of what a powerful form of meditation it is. I felt so inspired by it, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops and share it with everyone I knew. So, I decided I would color a flower mandala and post it here — no matter how it turned out — as a way to inspire others. Once I committed to posting it “no matter how it turned out,” I obviously wanted it to look pretty fabulous — and then of course, all of the things went wrong…
As I was coloring, a few of the colors bled into one another; the paper started pilling; one marker ran out of ink halfway through and I had to improvise with a similar color; I didn’t end up liking some of the colors I chose once I saw them on the paper; and I kept accidentally coloring outside of the lines! As I experienced each of these mishaps, I noticed a part of me that was very frustrated, worried if this flower would be inspiring and lovely enough to share, and wanted to throw in the towel and start a new one altogether. But every time, a smaller, softer voice chimed in and reminded me that regardless of the end result, I was meditating - a practice of simply staying in the present moment and continuing to color. I chose to listen to this softer voice over and over again until I finished the flower.
Once it was complete, and having persevered through my various mistakes and doubts, I decided to do a bit of active imagination (Jungian dialogue) with the flower and ask it if it had anything to tell me. It said: “Despite my imperfections, I am boldly blossoming.” I loved this so much; it was exactly what I needed to hear - and don’t we all need this reminder? This year, I’m committed to sharing with you more about my imperfect creations, attempts at meditation practice, and messy creative process so I can boldly blossom as a creative human being. What about you? Is there anything you’re committed to persevering through - despite any imperfections - and boldly blossoming in 2019?