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Meditations

Body & Mind Productivity

Choosing Your Own Story

July 13, 2015

On re-writing your stories to better serve you

My mother often questions why her children are so lazy. She’s done this my whole life, and it’s quite understandable. My mom has a fierce amount of energy and accomplishes more in a given day than anyone I’ve ever met. Have you heard about how the average worker is only productive for 3 hours per day? Well, that’s not my mom. She’s productive for about 16 hours per day. So, when she compares her children to herself, of course we’re slow!

I can’t say for sure that my mom’s claims have had a huge impact on my life, but a study done in the late 60s demonstrated how labels can have profound effects on people. Basically, scientists Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson told a some teachers at the beginning of the school year that a few of their students could be expected to have an intellectual boom within the year, even though they were really just average students. But when the students were given IQ tests at the end of the year their scores were significantly higher than the rest of the class. The teachers had unconsciously encouraged their “special” students to excel, spent more time with them, and were enthusiastic about teaching them. With the extra attention, the students felt more capable and intelligent, and performed accordingly. A simple story had a great impact.

I’ve always accepted my mom’s statements as truth: I’m slow and inefficient! I was satisfied with fulfilling her story, because no one expected more of me, and I didn’t need to risk suffering if the world didn’t like what I was producing. However, after recently taking inventory of my life accomplishments, I noticed that I’ve done too much cool shit for a lazy person. After realizing that my mom has really just been telling me stories, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders; I felt productive and able. Inspired by a friend, I then began looking inward to see what other stories was I believing, whether from someone else’s projection, or from comparison to other people. I wrote a list.

On re-writing your stories to better serve you

The ego makes judgements because it thinks those stories will protect. For example, “I’m a terrible writer,” translates into, “as long as I don’t show the world my writings then I will never feel the pain of ridicule.” How does that story serve us? If we were to live without those judgements then our lives would fill with experiences. By rejecting these stories of the ego we enter a fruitful state of vulnerability. Ask yourself, how will your vessel be filled if you don’t place it out in the rain?

The Task

  1. Write down a list of all the stories you tell yourself.
  2. Read the list and smile.
    Seeing your list of stories allows you to step back and see yourself as an individual — a friend. If a friend were to tell you these stories about theirself, they would likely blush, and you would give them a smile and a hug, and tell them that they have nothing to worry about: they are perfect just the way they are.
  3. While reading through your list put a line through the stories that aren’t true. If any are left uncrossed, reread them to see how those stories serve you.  “I’m creative”. Cool. Awesome. Yep. “I’m intelligent”. Yeah, got it. What does any of this mean anyway? Why does the ego even need this sort of validation? Aren’t we enough, just as we are, in the present, without any descriptive words?
  4. Take your list and light that bitch on fire.

Stories are just stories, positive or negative. When you label yourself with adjectives and nouns you are placing yourself in a box. All you need to know is that life is always changing, you are always changing, you are always doing the best that you can at any given moment, and who you are at this very moment is enough.

When we let go of these stories we are able to drop into the moment and experience the sensations of being — our ego drifts away and any worries, doubts, or pretenses dissipate. The present moment has no story. Of course, we can’t stay in this place, but it’s nice to practice visiting.

Art & Creativity Body & Mind

Creativity for Emotional Wellbeing

June 29, 2015

ursalahudson

I haven’t been making time for art. Instead of picking up my brush at night I’ve been escaping to Instagram or Netflix or simply cleaning up my house. The guitar hasn’t sounded sweet enough in my hands, cooking has become a chore, and my concepts on my canvases feel insufficient. My temper’s been short and I haven’t sat with Amelie to collage or draw. To be honest, life has felt very dull these past several days; there’s a low vibration in my body.

When was the last time you were here? Waiting to “feel it”? Creative slumps are such a catch 22; you feel too low to create, but you’re low because you’re not creating. The difficult thing to remember is that art doesn’t need you to do anything except show up, and then it simply flows out. And the slump is a distant memory.

Even though I’m in this sort of depression, I’m familiar with the escape-route.  I was fortunate enough to have found my center at a young age: to be familiar with the grounding effects of art-making. My parents “unschooled” me by simply working alongside me, running their businesses, making their art, and answering any questions I had along the way. My mom is an artist and my dad is a jack-of-all-trades, so something was always being made. By being unschooled I basically learned how make art and then sell it. Yet, the most valuable tools I came away with from my unique upbringing were certainly not tools for economic success. They were tools for maintaining emotional wellbeing.

By remembering the lessons clarified below, I’m reminded of the closeness of high-vibrational living via art-making. Contentment is literally at our fingertips.

Creativity for Happiness

Art Shows the Soul

Art makes possible the visualization of the things that previously had no form. The things we feel but have no words for, the dreams we’ve had, subconscious memories. Therapists have children draw to reveal things that can’t be said, because making art allows them to reveal their poetic depths.

Even when a work of art is a totally realistic representation of the world, there is a life-long journey that must be carried out before the idea is sparked within one’s mind.  Making art is one of the easiest ways to get to know yourself.

When you’re busy being your own authentic self it’s more difficult to find the time to compare yourself to others. Contentment and acceptance of others begins to replace the comparison and judgement.

Creating Feels Good

The act of creation, be it through art, music, cooking, sewing, photography, or knitting,  actually releases dopamine, just like sex, sleeping, and heroin.

I am personally significantly happier when I have several artistic projects going. Luckily for me, my day-job requires me to be creative, so I usually don’t go through withdrawals.

Detachment

When I first began working in clay I quickly learned that kilns have a way of taking a large chunk of the creative process out of your hands. Sometimes things blow up. Sometimes a glaze comes out thin, or a very different color than anticipated, or it makes your pot fuze to the bottom of the kiln. With more experience you gain control over the outcome of the process, but you still must learn to accept unanticipated outcomes and enjoy the experience of uncertainty. The journey becomes the joy as you detach from the end result.

Detachment doesn’t mean that you don’t give a crap about anything. It means that you can see past the grief of loss and appreciate the greater experience. It also allows you to take more risks and not live in fear of loss or inadequacy. Less fear = more love = happiness!

Infinite Perceptions

Each work of art is the direct regurgitation of someone’s reality at that moment in time. Everyone has very specific associations related to their 5 senses that is never replicated, so a resulting work of art is a true snapshot of the soul.

When critiquing someone else’s art it is easy to see its surface-value… yet, to remember that the finished product is the product of someone’s unique experience is very humbling.  When a landscape is painted from observation, a photo, or the imagination, no one will ever replicate it.

Respecting that we are all having different experiences allows us to acknowledge the value of our selves.   This not only encourages compassion for ourselves, but for those around us. It’s harder to take things personally, and it’s easier to let go of the things we don’t understand.

Personal Responsibility & Taking Control

A mistake within a work of art can be “fixed” 99% of the time. Sometimes “fixing” the “mistake” involves completely changing the direction in which the work was initially headed, but art never has one answer.

When this mentality seeps into daily life we are inspired to take action and change the things that no longer serve us. Many people feel that they are a victim of bad luck and circumstance, but the creative knows that there are infinite possibilities to try and experiment with to manipulate time & space in order to manifest a reality worth living.

Centeredness & Meditation

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dedicates his life to studying what makes people happy.  In his his Ted Talk below he explains that activities that bring out a state of “flow” not only provide momentary pleasure, but lasting satisfaction.

“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” – Csikszentmihalyi

Flow, or the act of creation, produces effects within the body that are similar to Meditation. Science has shown that meditation can, among other things, reduce stress and fight/flight responses.

Meditation is a practice that reminds your body, mind and spirit what it feels like to come back to the middle. If you remember what the center feels like, it’s easier to return there when you are confronted with stressful or obnoxious situations.

Create this July

In an effort to experience the positive effects of art-making as a community, this month we challenge you to take creation into your daily life with us. Each day, try to spend at least a few minutes on something creative.

Here’s a list of 30 non-committal projects to inspire, in no particular order:

  1. Doodle your family members as animals
  2. Start an art journal
  3. Crochet x-mas presents
  4. Paint your emotions
  5. Make a puzzle & send it to someone small
  6. Instagram artistically
  7. Make outdoor art
  8. Make co okies without a recipe
  9. Write a poem to your bestie
  10. Color in a coloring book
  11. Make Shrinky Dink earrings for all your ladies
  12. Learn how to do nail art
  13. Build a rock wall
  14. Learn to play the harmonica
  15. Take a photo per day of yourself or your kids
  16. Draw your bedroom
  17. Arrange a bouquet of flowers
  18. Write new kid song lyrics to a pop song
  19. Learn to embroider
  20. Choreograph a dance to Spice Up Your Life with your niece
  21. Find an ecstatic dance venue and go
  22. Make prayer flags
  23. Dress up for the 4th of July
  24. Carve potatoes into stamps: design your own textiles
  25. Sit down with your favorite little and scribble as fast as you can, with as many different colored pens as you can, covering as much white of the paper as you can within 3 minutes
  26. Make your own memory card game
  27. Paint rocks. Or sticks. Or both.
  28. Collect like-objects, style them on the floor, and take a picture.
  29. Get some Model Magic and go wild
  30. Make a flower garland

An Instagram Challenge

If you would like to join us on Instagram (and/or Facebook), we are moving into July with a daily-inspiration list that is so vague that you can make each day work for you within your means. Take a photo (or lots) of what you’ve been working on and tag #SCcreatejuly to share with us! It doesn’t have to be related to our list, we just want to see what you’ve made.

Instagram Art Challenge

Body & Mind Productivity

Clearing Space & Expanding Time

May 11, 2015

expand space increase time

How to defy physics to create productive, supportive environments for getting shit done:

  • Create a quite space in the morning— a half hour.
  • Journal or write an email to a distant friend for 20 minutes, unload. Life events, mind, body, and soul.
  • Meditate for 2 minutes. Sit and listen to your body at that very moment: feel what it’s like to be. you. now.
  • If you think about Facebooking or watching Breaking Bad, pause and remind yourself of all the really cool things you could be doing instead.
  • Don’t listen to music in the car. Be with yourself and allow yourself to come up.
  • Clean up your desk, kitchen, work table, or bedroom. Create clarity.
  • Turn down invitations if you have something productive you’d rather do instead.
  • Give your full attention to your loved ones, and listen, absorb.
  • Mentally acknowledge 5 things your are grateful for before digging in to breakfast, lunch, dinner.
  • Be mindful with each bite you take.
  • Take a break between work/creation every 15 minutes to stretch and lengthen.
  • Make time for a 20 minute walk. No music. Open your senses.
  • Take a breath between actions.