What are the most important attitudes we need to bring to creative mindfulness practice?
High time I finally wrote down these core attitudes which inform all the creative mindfulness practices I teach - including Stop Look Breathe Create. These have always been implicit in my books, but for some reason I've never stated them explicitly - or at least not all together in this way. So here they are - and I've created a simple poster that you can download and put up in your creative space to remind you too. (It's at the bottom of this post - just right click and save.)
I've also been sharing these qualities in the Stop Look Breathe Create Facebook group, and we've all been reflecting on them together. I'd love to hear your reflections on how you're holding these attitudes in your own practice, and the ways you feel you could integrate them even more deeply into what you do. Please DO leave comments below this blog - or join the conversation on Facebook.
1) Patience – Your mind may want to leap ahead, you may want to start the next drawing or photography project now, you may want breakthroughs and insights now, you may want to have a calm and still mind now – but take a breath, allow yourself to be where you are, go slow, be patient with yourself and with your practice.
2) Kindness – Guaranteed, your inner critic is going to make itself felt at some point as you practice. The thoughts will probably be something like this: You don’t like your creation. You’re useless at meditating. What made you even start in the first place? Go easy and gentle with yourself. Remember it’s all about the process, not end results. Use a self-compassion meditation as often as you need to. (There's a drawing one here). Use it more often than you think you need to, because we are conditioned to be enormously hard on ourselves and we all need more self-compassion.
3) Curiosity – Allow yourself to see your life, the practices, your creations with beginners mind. Allow yourself to see yourself with beginners mind. What is this thought? What is this sensation? How do I respond to this colour? How am I feeling now? Why does this mark feel right? Is this story really true? Be endlessly curious about everything. That way you’ll be making no assumptions. That way you can undo old patterns. That way you’ll discover something new.
4) Persistence – Keep on showing up. Keep on being curious. Keep up with the practice. Even on the days when you’re tired, grumpy, stressed or bored, show up, because those are the days you MOST need to Stop Look Breathe Create and do some practice. Commitment and self-discipline are absolutely essential in every creative and meditative practice, but if you think you can’t muster those then simply be persistent! Just show up and do it.
5) Allowing – Acceptance can be a loaded word, I prefer allowing. Whatever arises just allow it to be there for now. Just for this moment. Don’t think about the next moment. Simply take one moment at a time. Say to the thought, emotion, experience, life situation and to the marks and colours emerging on the page, ‘Ok, you’re here now, rather than fighting you, judging you or avoiding you, I’m just going to sit here and breathe, and do my thing, and let you be here, just for now.’ Allowing is the opposite to resistance. Allowing is an act of kindness, because in doing so we cease judging and end the war with ourselves.
6) Trusting – Whatever is happening on the page or in your meditations, trust it. Believe me, there is no wrong way to do this. You cannot fail. So just allow whatever happens to happen. This means whatever is happening, even if you can’t see any sense in it, or it wasn’t what you expected, or you don’t even like what you’re putting on the page – whatever is happening trust that it is exactly the right thing at the right time, for the right reason. Trust yourself and trust the process.
7) Playfulness – Don’t take any of this too seriously. Cultivate an attitude of play. Play comes naturally when we’re practicing with a curious beginner’s mind. Play comes naturally when we allow and trust ourselves. Play comes naturally when we’re being kind and patient with ourselves. We have enough work in life – so allow yourself to explore and play.