When I decided to put all of my creative efforts on public display and attempt to encourage others through my process, I was immediately struck with a dilemma; How do I encourage people to express themselves without attachment to the results when I myself struggle with this everyday? It sounds quite attractive-to make art as a spiritual practice and not concern ourselves with what it means or how others perceive it. But what does this look like on a day to day level?
For me, this all boils down to honesty. I have to be honest with myself about what my intentions are and also about where I am actually at with my practice. Every day is different and brings with it brand new circumstances that we are forced to confront. We have to be willing to accept the fact that today might be more difficult than yesterday and that our minds may be more cluttered or our hearts less open. We have to be honest with ourselves and start from where we are. If we want to use our creative practices as a bridge to self-realization then we have to treat them like sacred acts. We have to let go of our expectations and our pre-occupations and be present for the work.
It may not sound like much of a process from the outside but, from the inside, just showing up with a clear intention and a quiet mind can be quite the challenge. I still struggle with this all the time. I want to use my creative energy as a catalyst for my awakening but I am so conditioned to seek results and to hold expectations that my practice often falls apart before it even begins. I will suddenly find myself, minutes or even hours later, with my instrument in hand but completely lost in the unconscious act of recitation. There is not heart involved, no exploration and no joy beyond the rudimentary pursuit of results-the desire to be better than I am or the relentless accumulation of material. Even though I desire to play my instrument with my heart I still find myself positively possessed by my brain.
The only way to overcome my judgements and my frustration about my failure to concentrate is to accept where I am and begin again. I have to keep showing up and reinforcing my commitment to this practice. I have to treat the process of awakening like I treat the process of learning an instrument. I have to love it. I have to be committed to it. I can’t worry about where I want to be or where I think I should be along the path. I have to remain right where I am and remember what it is that got me to this point. I have to remember the electricity I felt in my body the first time that I touched the creative spirit. I have to remember the excitement that flooded my heart as I explored the possibilities of my craft. I have to remember the peace that descended upon my spirit when I experienced the flow of expression.
Inspiration is born out of the space of acceptance, not control. We can’t force it. We just have to get ourselves ready for its release. We have to soften the edges between the internal and the external and allow them to naturally dissolve into one another. Then, when the spirit is ready to float to the surface, nothing is standing in its way.