"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." Gospel of Thomas
These days, I feel like everyone is talking about creativity. These discussions go beyond cultivating artistic talent, or the profession or proliferation of the artist. They stress the impetus for living a connected, courageous, authentic life. Our engagement with our own creativity makes each of us uniquely who we are. It is the vital marrow in the bones of our existence. We are all born into the world under different conditions with varying kinds of intelligence, temperament and talents at our fingertips. Everyone has inherent gifts. And it is our duty to uncover and be a service to these gifts throughout our life.
I remember the exact moment when I discovered I could awaken awareness in my life, and it was a game changer. What follows is my personal inquiry through the practices of yoga and creativity as well as wise words form smart people that have way more experience than I do on these things. I'm liberally stealing from as many great minds as I can to remind myself (and hopefully you, too) that people have sought out creative ways to align with one's true calling throughout the ages.
The great Indian tale, The Bhagavad Gita, talks exactly about this. How to find your calling and do it fully. How to let go of the outcome and as Stephen Cope says (in his interpretation of the BG, The Great Work of your Life), turn it over to God. There is a saying I've heard about faith that says, "leap and the net will appear". In this podcast with Liz Gilbert and Brené Brown, they talk in a really candid way about how taking big risks equals having big failures. "Don't leap for the landing," she says "leap for the experience through the air".
The conversation around creativity does not exist without addressing failure. As a recovering perfectionist and closet control freak, just getting the creative shit out is near impossible for me some days. Yesterday for example, I got super stuck. I texted one of my she-roes and a fellow motherwifewritermakeryogini for help. She sent me a mantra to offer the aggressive voices of self-doubt: I give less than zero fucks.
The internal critics (as well as the looooooong list of things-to-do-before-making-stuff and the perceived lack of time) are often a clever but transparent mask for risk-taking (aka fear of failure). The best advice I've ever been given on how to get started, and the only thing that has ever worked for me is to just start. Begin doing what you intend to do. Do it badly. Just start doing it. You can manually override the doubts by taking action. Even if you can commit to 5 minutes only! It's akin to starting a meditation practice. My brother is an awesome example of this. At the end of 2010 a friend of mine began a 3-year long meditation retreat (I wrote about it here). I committed to sitting with her everyday in solidarity. And my brother got on board too. Well, I fell off the wagon after a few months and my bro is still going strong. We were just talking today about how all that really matters is showing up to do it day after day. (He's telling me. I'm nodding.)
Dharma is the work, duty or calling of our lives. Honing in on it takes practice, showing up, and asking the questions that you might be scared to ask. Unleashing your creativity on the world is also your duty. Creativity is how you feeds yourself. Dharma is how you use that creativity to feed the world. They are really not that different.
Watch this 5 min clip of Oprah's last televised audience show. "Let your life speak for you" she says. "Everybody has a calling, but not everybody gets paid for it".
Seek and answer the call of your inner voice! Have courage to speak and bring to action the things you hear. Commit each day to a single action that will further you along on the path of your heart. And stay in touch.
“Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others' versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if...
If we had known who we really were.” Julia Cameron
Book: The Great Work of your Life by Stephen Cope.
YouTube, and audio: Brené Brown on vulnerability, shame, courage and living an authentic life.
Annie and I are starting up our 200-hour teacher training Jan 2016. In the first half of the program, we will dive into the heart of your yoga practice. We will use a variety of yoga techniques as well as personal and group exercises to begin to uncover your gifts and your great heart in a supportive and welcoming learning environment.