I introduced my new series on Capturing Your Creativity on Monday, so without further ado, lets talk about the first step that I took and that must be taken if you are going to fulfill your dreams, live your purpose, and reclaim your creativity- Step 1: Tune In.
What do I mean by "Tune In"? It's simple, you have to start listening to yourself. You know, that still small voice down deep inside that you have been ignoring for years. That flash of intuition that you shrug off, only to realize later that it was spot on. That sensation in your body that you will do anything to numb. Illness, anxiety, stress - they are all trying to tell us something but we just don't listen.
But - if we are going to live the life that we truly want, one that fulfills us and allows us to experience our true purpose and creativity, then we have to find a way back to ourselves. We have to wake up and stop living in denial. It is essential that we determine the difference - once and for all - between what we think we want or think we should want and what our hearts actually desire.
Some of us have repressed our inner voice for so long that it may take some coaxing for our intuition and higher selves to reveal themselves to us. There are several techniques that can aid in this process. What I personally did to connect with my inner wisdom is write in a journal every day. This process took some discipline at first, but now it is invaluable to me and my creative recovery and I would be lost without it. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, calls this journaling practice the "Morning Pages". She requires all of her students to complete the pages every single day of their training. Morning Pages are just stream of consciousness writing, usually 2 or 3 pages, and should be done by hand. They do not have to be grammatically correct, sound good, or even make sense. You just write what is on your mind, as it comes to you, therefore creating a channel from your higher self to the paper. Sometimes you will be amazed by the insight that it reveals. And when you look back at these pages over an extended period of time, patterns start to emerge. You start to see exactly where your issues are... exactly where you are stuck.
Julia Cameron also recommends what she calls "The Artist's Date" as a technique for Tuning In. This is just a time that you set aside each week to fill your creative self with inspiration. It could be a trip to a museum or a thrift store, or going to see a movie, or whatever inspires you. The point is that you can't be creative if your tank is empty. We as creative individuals need to keep our inspiration tanks full. You never know when that one image or scene or idea will be exactly what you need, so you have to stay stocked with a constant supply.
Another way to Tune In is through meditation. I used to think that meditation was hokey and new age, but after getting into a regular practice, I now know that it is extremely beneficial and life changing. There are obviously countless ways to meditate, but what has worked best for me is just sitting still with myself and my body and actually paying attention to how I feel. It is a time to stop the constant stream of nonsense that is running through our brains 24/7 and experience the present moment.
Tuning In can also involve looking to your past for insight. What did you love to do as a child? maybe you played sports constantly when you were a kid but you haven't hit the field in decades. Does the feeling of holding a ball, or an instrument or a paint brush feel like home to you? Just because you're 20 years older now doesn't mean that you can't still connect to that passion that you once had. If you're feeling like something is missing but you don't know what it is, why not start with what you loved to do as a child. Even if that activity itself is a dead end, it could lead to something else that you hadn't even thought of. When I was younger, I was a total nerd; perfectly content reading books and drawing pictures and writing stories. I didn't really know that those were my passions, that is just what I loved to do. I realized how significant this was one night while unpacking some books at our previous house. I found several old journals from when I was 10, 11, 12 years old. It was heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, taking that trip down memory lane. Those journals were filled with stories that I had written, and outlines for books, and descriptions of characters. And I talked about how I wished that I could just spend more time reading and writing and drawing because that's all I really wanted to do. And what I realized in that moment was... those are still the things that I really want to do! I was blown away by the consistency of those passions throughout my life. But what is really ridiculous is that I didn't do those things for years, all along knowing that something was missing but not being able to figure out what it was. Looking to the past, and stumbling upon those old journals helped me make that connection and find my way home.
Whether you choose to start a journaling practice, or meditate, or go back to an activity that you loved as a child, you must figure out a way to listen to what your heart is telling you to do. It always knows best.
Do you have other ways of "Tuning In"? What has worked for you? Please share, I'd love to hear other opinions on this subject!
Must Read for "Tuning In": The Artist's Way and The Right to Write both by Julia Cameron
Next time I'll talk about Step 2: Face Your Fears.
See you then!
© Haley McManigal 2015
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.