I have been so inspired lately by reading the work of Eric Maisel and today I want to discuss one of the themes from his work about creating holistically. This idea has such a beautiful tie in to creating well, and wellness in your life. The overall fluidity of the concept is so simple and lovely.
Let’s start where we left off: with the idea of duality and embracing both sides of dualistic forces. If you remember from last month’s Creatively blog we explored common dualistic pairs: polarized thought traps artists can get stuck in (process vs product, idea vs expression, discipline vs flexibility, being vs doing and so many more!) We explored our tendencies to over-invest in one aspect of these pairs and by so doing neglecting the other. By recognizing that each of these pairs had an opposite, we were able to understand that both of them were equally valid and important parts of the creative process and that both may be called upon at any time.
Working holistically is the logical next step from here. To work holistically we are essentially shucking the concept of duality altogether. We are rejecting any type of nomenclature for our work- instead we are being open to the moment, exactly as it is, exactly as we are- asking ourselves simultaneously- “what does my art” and “what do I need in this moment?” To work holistically, we are requiring of ourselves to be present, open, and mindful in our work. Sound familiar?
It takes effort to arrive at a place where we can work holistically. It takes knowing and understanding what our knee-jerk processes might be when we create, including avoidance tendencies, preferences, and motivations. Do we choose the same subject matter or materials out of safety? Do we use the same inspiration out of fear of failure or changes? Working holistically requires us to say we have no preferences and come to our work fresh and able to give it and ourselves whatever is necessary and best.
There is important work to be done here. What fears do you have about your creativity? What excuses or avoidance are holding you back? What dualities do you default to? In a recent create well minute cast (#37 if you want to listen) I called you to an exercise- let’s expand upon it:
Get yourself a piece of paper and pen. We are going to make some lists:
1) If I were to tell you to go create in this very moment (right now!) why can’t you? Why won’t you? What is preventing you? List everything. Logistics. Money. Tools. Abilities. Everything you feel is in your way from doing something creative right now. Hold nothing back. When you are done, label this list “avoidance/excuses.” (#realtalk!)
2) If I were to tell you to go take your work public (to a show, open mic, gallery, publisher, friend, etc- keep going through opportunities until you find some resistance) why wouldn’t you do this? List all the reasons holding you back. Include internal reasons like feelings, self esteem, value statements about self and work. Take your time to be thorough. When you are done, label this list “fears.”
3) What absolutes and values can you identify about your creative process? For example- “I am process oriented,” or “my work is figurative,” or “I value technique highly,” or “my work is non-commercial,” etc and so on- make a list describing what absolutes and values define your work. This is a tough one so give yourself time to think it through. When you are done, label this list “dualities.”
You have just identified for yourself three major categories of obstacles between you and holistic creating. Good job! Once you know what your obstacles are, you can identify yourself gravitating towards these old patterns and choose a different path. It takes time and repetition to train your brain towards new behaviors, and starts with recognizing old behaviors so you can not choose those.
The power of working holistically is creating your best work and living your best life, because you are creating and living on life’s terms, not yours (and flexibility is a psychological and creative super power!) It is liberating because you are giving yourself endless options and freedoms. Unsurprisingly it starts with knowing that creative brain, your personal creative self, and a healthy dose of mindfulness.
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.