Stop Look Breathe Create 3 Challenge - Jan's Story

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Jan Illingsworth from the North Island of New Zealand took the Stop Look Breathe Create 3 Challenge. Here's her story...

Initially I was very excited to participate in this challenge and at the “end” of it I am even more excited and fulfilled. Thinking this challenge looked fairly simple and undoubtedly achievable, I was soon to come up against an old favourite hindrance of mine.  In my journal I wrote that the time factor was the main issue arising for me from social events and visitors that might interrupt the prescribed times for the creative meditations. That, as it happened, was the least of it.

The inner-critic rears its head

The usual neurotic and egoic thoughts began to pester me after creating the photos or sketches; especially the drawings, and it always took the form of an unanswerable question. “Are you doing this right?” I am grateful that the egoic pretty much shut-upbefore and during the creative process and this was largely due to the benefits of the 3 Challenge meditation both preceding and during the creative activities.

I remembered what Ram Dass said, about the ego and neuroses, when I was sitting in the 1980s sun at a festival called Nambasa, and this was a comfort.  He said 'despite all the degrees, therapy, retreats with monks both Christian and Buddhist, following his living saints, experimenting with LSD etc' he never once got rid of any neuroses and his ego popped up all the time to put in its dime's worth.

“Oh hello baldness are you visiting again? I know you old friend,” he said.

Inner voices

“Am I doing it right” is a familiar inner voice for me.  So of course this has come up for me before and Wendy Ann's advice to me during the Challenge helped me to laugh even more at the ridiculousness of the inner critic, the “Oh so Unwise but Ever Trying One".  She said something like “that is the inner critic and it has as much value and significance as if it said, you are a purple elephant.”  A picture of a purple elephant is quite figural for me at the moment!

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Childlike joy of creating - mindful photography

I enjoyed the way the 'samskaras', or fragrances from the past emerged into the pieces.  Samkaras are often sensory impressions or recollections in this time and space reality.  We tend to think memories are the past.  They are not.  They are created by the brain re-collecting in the present moment. So the recollection of childhood joy in finding Small Worlds where the Borrowers might live and Arriety might play, became a theme of many of the photographs I took. Truly the only time is Now and I really came into a new awareness of this dharma, in this challenge.

Mindful Drawing

So; the 1913 burnt first edition book with hand made paper which I found, “At the Turning of the Year, Essays & Nature Thoughts from The Writings Of Fiona Macleod' became a homemade book I put together of my drawings, quotes from the book and my own writing from the last week of the challenge.  I wrote again in cursive writing with a fountain pen, something I hadn't done since High School.  Now I am having difficulty returning to my usual print script.  I guess that is a temporary, “After Hindrance.” I feel that the end result is an honouring of and contains the essence of the original book.

Mindful Writing

I write every day in a journal called “Letters to Dios” which is a stream of consciousness kind of approach but the words that emerged following the meditation were a surprise to me.  Usually I have some idea of what might emerge when I write but not this time.  And isn't that the wonder of sitting in the deep blue and allowing whatever arises to emerge? 

I enjoy a sense heightened sense of authenticity in my process of creating as a result of the three weeks of the 3 Challenge. 

You can sign up and take the 3 Challenge yourself here.

jan illingsworth mindful writing.jpg