Explore - Do Nothing - Julie Brown Neu

Explore – Do Nothing

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Exercise #2 of Stage 6 in the Creativity Journey – Rest and Listen

In the previous exercise, you got a taste of stillness, of being quiet and opening your mind to hear the voice of the Muse. Now it’s time to do it in earnest, but you can do this exercise on a different day from the prior one if you prefer. I want you to begin to experience real stillness. If you’re not used to it, sitting still might be a little scary. Your mind may be full of thoughts such as “This is a waste of time. I could be using this time to get my dishes washed and the laundry needs folding.” Your time will feel useless, but nothing on this journey is more important than stillness. 

Here’s the secret about creativity – true, authentic, deep creativity, the kind of creativity that generates art that profoundly impacts both you as the artist and all of the people who engage with your art, comes from deep within your soul. But the Muse speaks quietly. If your body and mind are in constant motion, you will never hear her speak. It is only when your mind is quiet and your body still that the Muse will appear to you to offer you the gift of art. 

Today, begin to practice being still. If you are at all like me, it’s going to take some practice. Many of us are completely unaccustomed to doing nothing. It feels lazy. It feels wasteful, but it is the most valuable thing you can do. Decide upon the length of time you can offer and set a timer. Ideally yes, you would just sit still as long as you need, but I find that the stress of not knowing how much time is passing is just too much for me to bear. Set a timer in order to know that too much time won’t pass. Set the timer for whatever amount of time that you feel you can reasonably do. Twenty minutes would be great, but if you think five minutes is what you can stand, then set the timer for that. As you become more accustomed to the silence in the coming weeks and months, you can keep extending the time. 

Sit in a comfortable spot. Really. Be comfortable. You’re not a monk. You don’t have to sit on a wooden floor in the lotus position with your back straight wearing coarse robes. I wouldn’t be able to get up from the floor if I sat like that so I sit in a comfy chair. Close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your breath coming in and going out. When you notice your thoughts rushing into your mind, focus on your breath again. Keep doing that until the timer beeps. You may not get the inspiration for the next “Starry Night” in that first session, but you’ll soon find this quiet time to be even more creative than when you’re in the shower. Enjoy. 

Now, you may be thinking “This isn’t new; she’s asked me to do this already” and you would be right. What’s different about today is that I am also going to ask you to do more, well actually, to do less. After you have had your moments of stillness to listen for the Muse, continue sitting still. Imagine erasing your To Do List for the day and take the day off. Yes, I know that you probably have things on that list that you can’t erase and maybe you have a job you have to get to today, but do what you can. Erase all but the bare minimum, call in sick or find a day soon when you can play hooky, give yourself a well-earned vacation day to do whatever you please, even if that is nothing at all. Spend a day doing what you want. Your body and your spirit need rest before you can bring forth the art that the world needs. 

Want to join others on the journey with you? Come to the Creativity Explorers Club on Facebook.

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