When is the last time you actually did nothing?
Felt truly still and rested?
When you woke up in the morning and felt refreshed and full?
Experienced your body at ease in the sun?
Spent more than a fleeting moment looking out the window?
Sat and actually did nothing…. like actually nothing?
For many of us the answer to these questions is that it has been far too long and not frequent enough. It was my intention to take some time away from sharing emails and posting on social media this summer so that I could rest. I can’t say I was overly successful at all of this. But the little taste I felt of stillness here and there, has left me wanting more, knowing that it is essential to my wellbeing right now.
Today, I have a creative prompt for you made in the spirit of rest. I also have some exciting news for you about a new offering I have made for stress and anxiety called Creating Stillness.
Lately, I have been carving and shaving things down in my life. Trying to be intentional about making space for nothing and taking the pressure off of myself to “keep up.” I came across this quote the other day and it really resonated with me
“Science is starting to show the value of spending time in silence, in nature, and in not engaging in constant external stimulation. We need time doing ‘nothing’ to be our best selves: well-rounded and creative human beings. The ‘doing’ side of our nature needs a ‘being’ side to be in balance.”
- Sue Smalley, Ph.D.
The duality of “doing” and “being” is something I am continuously exploring in my life and creativity. I have so much to share with you about this, but I will save most of it for future emails.
Today my intention is to simply reach out and offer you a creative prompt helping you play with this “doing” and “being” side of yourself so you can begin to see how they feed one another. Here it is!
The Space Between
1. Grab a pad of paper, a pencil, one colour medium of your choice, and a stopwatch (I used the one on my phone.)
2. Begin by doing nothing. Set your timer for 5 minutes, place your hands on your paper pad and do nothing, just be with the blank page. Notice your thoughts, feelings and urges to plan or imagine what will fill the page. Just let each of these be as they are and return to the page. Intend to just stay with the page for these 5 minutes and be with the “being” side of yourself.
3. When your timer ends just take a few moments to notice what that experience felt like. What surprised you? Did you find yourself resisting it in any way? Did your mood change over the course of the 5 minutes? How interesting.
4. When you are ready take your pencil and begin to sketch out shapes paying particular attention to the space in-between. Notice the negative space and see if you can create more or less of it in between each shape. You may want to make free form shapes, choose just one shape or a few different ones. Notice what it feels like to do and act, to fill the page and note space where there was nothing before.
5. Once you have created your shapes continue by filling in your shapes with your colour medium. Again, notice the positive and negative space. Notice the thoughts, feelings and experience of filling this space. Does it feel good, neutral, challenging? Just observe the space and your own inner experience as you shape it. This is the “doing” side of yourself.
6. When your sketch is complete, take a moment to notice the spaces in between, how the “doing” part of yourself was layered onto the “being” part of yourself that you began with. What was this experience like to move in-between the sides of yourself if only for a moment.
7. Finish this by giving your piece a title.
This is just a tiny little exercise. A way for us to begin observing the dance between doing and being in your life. In creativity we can be overly focused on making and producing rarely holding space for ourselves to do nothing. But nothing is so important. Nothing is at the base of it all. We need nothing and the space in-between more than ever right now.
Share your image on Instagram (I am taking a Facebook break right now) tag me @workshopmuse in your stories or main feed. I would love to see your creations and hear your titles.
I am going to reach out again next week and offer you more thoughts about this notion of how we balance “being” and “doing.” I have been waving together some thoughts around an experience I had as a young child being asked to “hold faith” and some words I read recently about experiencing a creative block.
Until then a few parting notes & some Inspiration Library News….
Next week I am going to share all the details about my next big offering! I have been dancing around it all year and it is almost here… From September to April I will be leading a course called Creating Stillness in the Inspiration Library. This offering is specifically for those folks wanting to use creativity and mindfulness to manage anxiety and stress. Honestly, it feels like the most thoughtful and important offering I have made to date (which feels really nice.) I will share all the details next week! Watch for it in your inbox.
Finally, a few folks and I in the Inspiration Library have been creating and connecting all summer long working away on making a piece of art in a course called “Make Art that Matters.” We are nearing the end of this journey and we hope to share our creations with you all soon. This was an incredibly rewarding experience and I can’t wait to share the images and stories of our creations. Each person followed their own meaningful insight and worked in their own medium. A true expression of our own unique creative fingerprints.
Thanks for being here with me,