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Lesson 1: The Garden Maze

Last week we started our journey exploring why it can be so hard to create. As promised, I am going to hold your hand a walk you through a series of creative mindfulness activities to help you explore this challenge with gentle intention. In the last email I asked you to find a symbol that represents your creative practice, we are going to go deeper with that but first let’s start at the beginning…

Let's cast our gaze as far upstream to this problem of creation as we can.

Let’s look at where the struggle to create begins -our thoughts.

Everything begins with the spark of a thought.

An impulse followed by a flash in our mind... words, thoughts, a voice narrating our lives.

What are the voices in your head saying when the impulse to create arises?

Are they supportive thoughts or negative?

For many people once the impulse to create arises it is followed up with a barrage of negative thinking. Do any of these thoughts ring a bell? A voice in your head saying...

"You have no idea what you are doing"

“You don’t have time for this”

"How childish and silly"

"Where is your dedication? You need to take this more seriously"

"Why are you so lazy?"

"You don't even know what you’re doing?"

"How selfish?"

"What a joke?"

"This isn't the right time in your life to be creative, wait until..."

"Other things are more important right now"

"It's not good enough, so why bother"

Our thoughts can be pretty nasty when we look at them written out like this. If you are anything like me, I am going to guess that a few of these have swirled around your head from time to time.

When these thoughts show up do you believe them?

Are they true?

Or are they fiction, fleeting, just old echoes from your past still haunting you?

Perhaps a bit of both?

It’s not the content of our thoughts that matters but rather our relationship to our thoughts that matters most. This is big. Go back and read that again…

How do you relate to your thoughts, have you ever considered this before?

Are you able to notice the words and voices that come to your mind when the impulse to create arises? Or are you carried away by them lost in them once they arise?

Our thoughts are tiny seeds constantly being sprinkled throughout our lives each one has the potential to grow into a story inside of us. Some thoughts we water and tend to with love and care, others we neglect and let die.

What thoughts do you spend the most time with, tending to, giving your attention, listening to?

It is possible to make a radical shift in our way of being and actually choose our thoughts. We can offer a critical assessment of our thoughts rather than simply believing them. We can ask if they are helpful, nourishing or destructive and harmful.

We can become a gardener and tend too and prune the ones we want to keep and let the others die.

Choosing our thoughts, is one of the greatest lesson’s mindfulness has taught me. It has had a transformative impact in so many areas of my life. And the good news is that our creative practice can help us see our thoughts more clearly while also showing us a deeper part of ourselves that transcends our thoughts and help us stay

connected to it.

Let me share an example with you….

The other night I was exhausted after a busy holiday season, my family and I were all sick, not sleeping, and completely out of sorts. I had been craving time to create because I knew it would nourish me. I needed to break through the funk I was in. I decided my energy and health were finally strong enough one evening that I would sit down and make something! I managed to get my children to bed. Laid down next to my baby after she drifted off to sleep it was time to move. Time to get up and to create. To get the ball rolling. Here is just a brief glimpse into the of the busy narrative stream of my thoughts in that moment in the dark bed…

“This was a bad idea you are too tired. Not tonight. What will you make anyway? You should just sketch something. But you are terrible at drawing; it will be a waste of time. You should just sleep. But then I won’t have made anything again, it’s time to get back to it. But you don’t even know where your supplies are. But what if you just played around with some shape, not actual drawings, that would be ok right? You will probably just make a mess. I wonder if I have any emails. I should check my phone….”

Sound familiar. A lot of chatter. Almost a tangled garden maze growing in my mind quicker than I could even manage. Each thought fighting for space, air, water. Each one trying to grow stronger. Some of it helpful. Some of it not. So which one should I have listened to? How do you know which voice is right?

In that moment in the dark laying cozy next to my baby I decided to choose one thought to follow. I didn’t worry about right or wrong. I chose to follow the one that I thought was most nourishing and I cut the rest. Nourishment was my intention, my need so I used that to help me. I thanked the rest of my thoughts for their input and then thanked them again when they kept popping up after I decided to just try sketching each time trying to take me away.

I got up. I decided just to draw shapes and see where it would take me. Nothing else. I trusted that this would nourish me. I decided I would do this for just 20 minutes and if it wasn’t nourishing me, I would go to bed. One thing led to another and this little beauty emerged. She nourished me long after my original plan of sketching for 20 minutes.

When I look at it now, I can almost see this little green stem as a nourishing thought worth tending too.

Becoming aware of what thoughts are swirling in your own unique garden maze is the first step towards cultivating energy and awareness to create in a way that honours you need for expression.

Your garden maze is unique. Your thoughts are unique. The stories you tell yourself are of your own creation. Only you can name them and see them for what they are. Your thoughts will shift, your garden maze will shift and grow and change with time. Noticing your thoughts and finding space in-between you and them, even if it’s just a crack at first is how we begin.

Let’s do an activity to help us make sense of this all. Last week I asked you:

What image, shape, line, colour, texture, or word would you use to symbolize your personal relationship to your creative practice?

Did you find a symbol to capture your creative practice? If not that’s ok, it’s not too late to join just take a moment and go with your first idea. No need to overthink this. It can be a simple object that exists only in your imagination right now.

Now, what if you imagined that the symbol you chose was actually a teacher here to help you see your thoughts around your creative practice more clearly?

What would this teacher say if it had a voice? How is it connected to your thoughts?

The next step in our process is to take this object and pair it with some expressive writing.

  • Take a few moments and write a few lines of poetry or give this teacher a voice. Trust the process and simply follow the words that come to you. See what your teacher has to say. Don’t think, don’t worry about spelling, or how good the writing is, just write 4-6 lines.

  • As you write notice the thoughts that pop up. As you notice them see if you can create just a sliver of space between you and the thoughts. Making a decision to let some fall to the side and nurture others.

  • Look back at what you have written and underline 3-5 words that you think are most important.

  • Take these 3-5 words and in a new writing explore how these are connected to the thoughts that show up for you in your creative practice.

  • Next week we are going to take these words and this symbol and go even deeper. We are going to playfully explore how to continue noticing our thoughts and then determine what to do once we notice them!

Curious about my object and my process? I chose a rock. You can see my writing process along with last week’s intro lesson on my blog here.

I hope that your writing reveals something new and helpful for you.

I hope that you can find just a touch of space in-between you and your thoughts.

If it feels right, please share your process with me or in the facebook group. I will do my best to respond to each of you.

Thanks for being here with me and trusting me on this little journey.

This is part of a larger series check out the rest below...


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