In the previous sensory balance post we started exploring how our inner senses imbue our experiences with meaning. This post concludes our two-part exploration of the nature and role of the first of the four inner senses: our sense of creativity. So, how did execution of my plan to overcome my blogging blocks go?
Though my plan seemed brilliant, it neglected to consider one essential fact: it was my ego that was getting in the way of publishing with the regularity my heart desired. While this new plan was clever and mechanically sound—it could have produced the desired result—the reality is, it didn’t. That is because it didn’t do anything to deal with the very real issue of my fragile ego. Though the writing “assignments” were briefer, they were no easier.
Here are some of the many ways my ego showed up. First, my virtual best friend Cameron, the perpetually creative partner I was depending on for this escapade, totally let me down. I have read everything she has ever written. She has never failed to inspire me through any of her works. And yet she chose the day after I announced my new daily blog to become a lackluster writer. I would read her daily entry and say, “That’s it? You expect me to inspire them with that? You had to pick now to become a lousy writer?” (Somewhere, I hope Cameron is laughing along with you and me.) Realizing that it was risky to depend so completely on such an obviously capricious genius, I decided I needed to include other inspiring teachers and writers if I was going to publish daily with ease. Thanks to input from that expanded team, I made it through a couple more posts.
Over the course of the six entries I published on the new site, I found that while all of my teachers inspired me on a daily basis, I still couldn’t get that feeling out of my head onto the page. That, my friends, is because feelings don’t come from our heads; they come from our hearts. I was reminded of this truth at the time by a session with my own life coach during which we were discussing my theoretical resistance to publishing, which I kept insisting was not a problem (ha). My coach observed that, in the first forty-five minutes of our sixty-minute session, each time she asked how I felt, I replied, “Intellectually, I think …” Gotcha!
Like Jacob wrestling with the Old Testament angel, I wrestled with my ego every night. We managed to publish for five nights in a row with some difficulty but no big drama. It wasn’t proving as easy as I’d expected, but I thought maybe I just needed time to get into a rhythm. Are you counting the number of times I’ve used think, thought, or a synonym? Big clue that I still didn’t have a clue.
Which brings us to day six, Thursday, February 10, 2011. I awoke with many reasons to feel grateful for how my life was unfolding. Blessings continued to abound. Synchronicity without measure. Yet it was a harbinger of the day’s events that I began with a “pep talk” from the fear-driven gremlin aspect of Ella, the guardian on my personal board of directors (more on guardians and gremlins in chapter 6). “Well, darling, ‘love and curiosity’ is a cute little writing effort. But it is clearly blog lite compared to your other site. Less taste and less filling. Less effort, less prose, less inspiring, just … well … less. I’ll grant you that in some cases maybe less can be more (although I personally find that a lot more is always so much more). We both know if you would just buckle down and be a serious businesswoman again, you could do so much more with your life. Clients used to pay your consulting firms $750 for an hour of your insights. I find it so sad that this pitiful effort is what you’ve come to.”
I recognized my fear-gripped arch nemesis, Cruel Ella (aka Cruella) the moment she opened her mouth in my head. I told her to shut up, which she did. But remembering that she is really just part of me, I know that even when she doesn’t make a sound, if she’s afraid, that fear will be my undoing. It is no wonder I spent much of my day listening to Pema Chödrön lectures to counteract my gremlin’s subliminal nagging.
The time of my blog writing got later every day of the first five days. Day six continued the pattern; I didn’t sit down to write until 10:30 p.m. I was fresh off the exhilaration trail of listening to eight hours of Chödrön lecturing on meditation. She is brilliant, touching, and so very real. Her way of teaching meditative practice has helped me broaden and deepen my already eclectic and substantial spiritual practice. I even made notes during the day to make writing that night a breeze. I had ninety minutes in which to channel eight hours of Chödrön into three hundred to five hundred words that would transmit to all of humanity the essence of meditation and how meditative practice had transformed my life. A breeze? Not!
When the frustration level became unbearable, I considered ever more horrifying options such as just copying and pasting a few cool quotes from another site, declaring it a blog, checking off the daily box, and calling it a day. I began rendering that pitiful little solution right up to the step before pushing the “publish” button, when I pulled myself back from the brink in horror. Next I sat weighing the ethical ramifications of plagiarizing my own writing from my other blog site by pulling a clever paragraph from one of my previous posts there, pasting it onto the new site, signing it, calling it a blog, checking the daily box, and going to bed. No dice on that one either. At one point, I was so enraged with myself and the process that I considered obliterating the five existing entries and launching the site into blog oblivion (no issues with suppressed anger here). I stopped short of executing that one as well.
I know that whenever I create this much drama in my life, big lessons are in the wings. Stuff I need to pay attention to. The clock was running down. I had a little over sixty minutes before not publishing my daily blog that day would reveal me for the sham and lightweight writer I really was (so much for confidence in my writing abilities). All I had to do was convey the poignancy of Chödrön and the essence of meditation in three hundred words. How hard could that be? As it turned out, it was quite hard if I wanted to use only my head and not my heart to do it.
Because the resulting blog post is one of the most real and moving pieces I’ve ever written, I share it in its entirety in the “Tonglen” section in the appendix of my book. Here is the essence of the lesson I relearned on that particular leg of my journey:
- I publish to touch others’ lives. Sharing my vulnerability and growth inspires hope and courage within my readers and listeners.
- I don’t have to publish lengthy pieces to touch lives. I write from my heart, not from a production schedule based on elapsed time and expected volume.
- I am the distribution channel, not the manufacturer, of my art. My role is to stay tuned to the Universal frequency of my endlessly creative Source and distribute what I am sent.
I close this exploration of your sense of creativity with an interesting client experience. Over the course of six months, my client had become committed to healthier eating and more-regular exercise with a personal trainer. While she had lost considerable pounds and inches at first, she quickly hit a plateau. Increased muscle mass wasn’t the culprit. She tried being even more ambitious about calorie counting and exercise. No luck. During a coaching session, we did a quick scan to identify any sensory imbalances that might be at work. She realized she had been starving her sense of creativity for years. When she started feeding her creativity again, guess what happened? She started losing more pounds and inches. Without changing anything else about her calories or workout, she started losing more weight. Other clients have experienced similar successes once they started feeding their sense of creativity or other starved inner senses. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?
One of my theories about why this works is that, because we are complex, interconnected systems, our bodies register deprivation of any sense as starvation. They then shift into survival mode by slowing down the rate at which we burn the resources we still have at our disposal. As a result, our metabolism and rate of calorie burn slows to compensate. Conversely, when we stop starving any one of our senses, our bodies register satiation and our metabolism returns to normal. I can’t prove this is why and how it works. I just know that it works. And that’s good enough for me.
It has been said that God delights in expressing all aspects of Itself through us in cocreative partnership with us. In each moment, the question concerning creativity is, “Are you showing God a good time?” When was the last time you fed your creative inner spirit with no expected commercial outcome? Try something fun; borrow your kids’ crayons, scribble a poem, organize your closet, paint a mural on your wall, sing a song, dance a jig, hit a bucket of golf balls, stick glitter stars on your ceiling, clean out your junk drawer, paint your toenails purple, just lie in the grass and dream as you watch the clouds go by. Your life is your greatest work of art. Expressing your unique self is why you are here.
In the next sensory balance post, we’ll launch a four-part dive into the nature and role of the second inner sense: vitality.