Sorry for the lack of posts! Sometimes I go through creative lulls, always have. I used to freak out, thinking I had lost it and it’d never come back! It always does though. I trudged through two paintings since I last wrote, and started many posts, but the flow just hasn’t been there.
I came across a piece of writing that described this as do-be-do-be-do. Sometimes we’re moving, growing, creating, do-ing and other times it’s time to just chill out, to be. Of course we’re still growing during these plateaus, they are part of the process. (The easy part!)
Anyways, my last post had me plagued with Monkey Mind, whose ass I had kicked, but it briefly returned right after my life suddenly and drastically changed for the better. A Monkey Mind is an unruly mind that jumps from one subject to another, often in an anxious fashion. Spiraling around things you can’t control, and obsessing over things that cannot be changed. It comes from an ancient Chinese story and is interwoven into their culture as well as Taoism.
Monkey Mind floated away after about a week, and I got my peaceful headspace back. The difference was astounding. I can’t believe I used to go through every day like that – and most people still do! Blech, no fun at all.
So how to beat this Monkey Mind? Same answer as always!… Meditation. Which I mention all the time, but haven’t really gone in to. Explaining the benefits of, and experience that is, meditation, is akin to explaining mind-blowing sex to someone who has never experienced physical attraction. You won’t really get it until you get it.
I’ll do my best though! I’m going to attempt to break it down like I so wished someone would do for me ten years ago.
Sit, reader, sit. Sit anyway you like. I’m a criss-cross apple sauce gal myself, but you do you. Many prefer chairs with their feet flat on the ground. Keep your back straight and your shoulders nice n’ relaxed. If you lay down you run the risk of falling asleep, and though a goal of meditation is to experience brainwaves similar to those we have while sleeping, the idea is to be conscious for them.
Breathe deeply through your nose, observe the breath filling your lungs, your diaphragm shifting, and the breath flowing back out of your body. Repeat. Ova and ova and ova. As thoughts come into your mind observe them without judgement and let them go, bringing your awareness back to the breath.
It’ll take awhile to experience a considerable thought-free break, but when you do it’ll feel expansive, and you’ll want more. Keep at it. I like meditation music to stay focused, many people love guided meditations (which for me usually incite a gag reflex, but again, you do you, give ’em a shot!). Start with ten minutes, going up and up as feels natural.
In addition to sitting meditation, try walking meditation. Treat your thoughts and breath the same as in sitting, letting the thoughts float away and focusing on the breath, but walk slowly while doing so. Note the different sensations, your foot contacting the floor, how your shoulders fall, the air on your skin, etc, wordlessly, just feel it.
Once you get that down you can start multi-tasking! Meditation and painting (what started it all for me)! Meditation and dishes! Meditation and knitting! Meditation and running!
As you incorporate these practices into your life, Monkey Mind will fade. Your mind will quiet. I’m not even gonna lie, at first I was like, “Whoa – now what? I’m borrrrred….”. We are so accustomed to the dramatic storm in our minds that we don’t even know how to enjoy the calm! You’ll adjust, learning to love the freedom of consciously deciding how to use your mind.
Also, ideas will float in. Philosophical ones. As natural as an idea for a creative project or a craving for ice cream, they will just appear in your mind. The universe/collective unconscious/God/magical fairy rainbow/One just creepin’ on in… This is the beginning of what people call a “spiritual awakening”. This doesn’t always start because of meditation, it can happen in all kinds of ways; from an astounding hike, to meeting someone awakened, to hallucinogens, to a traumatic experience. Conscious effort via meditation is a great way to begin the process though, and has shit-tons of other benefits, like getting rid of that ol’ Monkey Mind!