Creativity for the Rest of Us

Freshen Up



Spring. The eternally hopeful season where the landscape that a few short weeks ago was bare and grey is now flush with growth and color. Green is the color of the day. The air is fresh, color is exploding everywhere, and the birds are busy.

In many traditions this is the time for cleaning up and clearing out. Pruning the old and dead to make way for the new. This is also true of daily practice. In my younger years I used to think that I was supposed to find something to do and do it until the end of my days. Might have had something to do with familial conditioning and growing up in a religious tradition that didn’t seem to change at all, ever.

As I think back now, I see I have gone through many different practices that have lasted for various periods of time and been useful to me at different seasons in my life.

Somewhere around 1994 I was in a hotel room in San Francisco and read an article about Julia Cameron’s Artist Way. Intrigued by her suggested practice of morning pages – writing 3 pages unedited, off the top of your head, stream of consciousness, first thing every morning – I picked up a note pad that day and started writing. I wrote morning pages consistently for 15 years until one day I stopped. The energy was gone. What remains is the habit of a morning practice.

What I know is that I have programmed myself to begin each day with some time devoted to Self. While the form has changed over the years, depending on what was useful at the time, I hold the time as sacred. I hope to never let go of the habit yet I aim to keep the practice fresh and alive.

If we are doing any practice that feels stale, dull or lifeless it’s time to freshen it up. If you are doing something because someone else is doing it yet it doesn’t have any energy for you, stop it! Find what works for you and do that. Do more of that. Do lots of that. The possibilities are infinite.

We hear/read daily now about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Most of us understand its usefulness. There are two snags I’ve observed – making it a habit (a.k.a. priority) and getting caught up in finding the “right” thing to do (and the time to do it).

There is nothing I can say that will make it a priority for you. This is a planet of free will. We all make our own choices and we make plenty of unhealthy ones. I certainly have and still do. I can say that since I have devoted myself to morning practice my life is rich, creative, abundant, productive, and expansive. I have more ease, flow, and joy even in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. Me saying that is nice. It doesn’t make it a priority for you. You still have to do your own work.

What I have found that works over the years is dedicated morning time for “something.” It can be writing, walking, sitting, reading, listening to the birds or a piece of music, standing under a tree or pulling a few weeds in the garden. It changes depending on what best serves me. It might be five minutes or sixty.

There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again. – Rumi

Key components – silence, devoted time to listen, self-compassion, keep it fresh.

The important things to remember:

Do not use your practice as a way to berate yourself. If you’re practicing anything, you’re doing it right. Appreciate that.

Do something within the time period you have, even if it’s 30 seconds to take 3 deep breaths when you get into your car.

Some practices require developing a new skill – i.e. sitting still, a particular breathing technique, tai chi movements – and that will take some time to learn. Appreciate whatever progress you are making and stick with it.

If you’re going through the motions and it feels stale, freshen it up. Follow the aliveness.




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