For the past few days, I’ve had that familiar feeling that there’s something within me that wants to be expressed, but every time I approach the blank page or my instrument, it doesn’t seem to want to come out. Or at least not the way I want it to. There’s a voice in my head that wants to shout out and cry doom by labeling my current state as “writer’s block.” I used to believe in such a thing, but now I have a different perspective after coming to this point enough times and getting to the other side of it.
It has been said that art imitates life, and I have been observing a very interesting pattern lately that is equally relevant to both the creative and spiritual path.
For some reason, many of us, most of us, carry the unspoken belief that we’re supposed to feel amazing all the time. As soon as we feel less than, our internal alarms go off, signaling that “something’s wrong,” and then, like any self-protecting and fit to survive creature would do, we go looking for a cause until we find one. And because our mind machines are so well-versed in the art of finding a thought to match our feelings, we can always find some reason, some “why” to explain the underlying feelings of unease, contraction, sadness, guilt, or whatever brand of low we’re swimming in on a particular day.
Similarly, artists, creatives, athletes, entrepreneurs, and all human doers are very quick to name, blame, analyze, and stigmatize any experience they have that is less than full-blown, all-the-time inspiration. As soon as we find ourselves meeting a little bit of resistance towards our personal, creative, or career objectives, we can get sucked into the downward spiral thinking that often only makes it worse and keeps us stuck for longer. We entertain thoughts like, “Oh no, maybe my mojo is gone. Maybe I’ve lost it, and it won’t ever come back. Maybe I never had it to begin with.” Or we look at our circumstances and point the finger at factors beyond our control. “I can’t give my best now…It’s all their fault for what they did to me…It’s all their fault for what they didn’t do…How can I perform in this state or in these conditions?” Or my all-time favorite: “This is too hard. Every time I try, it just feels like I can’t. If I was really meant to do this, it would be easier, so I guess this isn’t really for me.“
I have something to tell you and some of you may not like it, but it’s true, and it can have a profound impact if you are open to hearing it.
Life is not a straight line, one-dimensional, one flavor, or one feeling experience. And neither is the process of creating our selves, our lives, and our life’s work.
We are rhythmic, energetic beings. We have an ebb and flow and so does the world around us, and it is completely insane to go around expecting things to unfold at one frequency, one level of intensity, or one way when it comes to our spiritual path or our creative path.
Just as we breathe in and out, and our breath goes from expansion to contraction, so too does our energy, our hearts, and our state of being. When we embrace this and go with the flow, we can much more effectively respond to the dynamic nature of life, people, and things, rather than pushing up against it and having a more conflicted, dissonant experience.
This begins most simply by acknowledging and accepting the nature of things. The flow of life, of love, and of creative energy is dynamic, not static. We will have super charged, infinitely loving “I’m ready to kick some serious ass” moments, and we will have “I don’t feel like it, and I don’t know if I ever will; leave me the f* alone” moments. The sooner we surrender to this reality, the sooner we can face it powerfully and the less impact it will have on us, our states, and our ability to show up for all that we are here to bring to life. The saying “what we resists persists” applies. I would add to that what we surrender to subsides and what we embrace is enhanced.
The second and perhaps equally important aspect of this is to allow ourselves to live in the lows without needing to fix them, figure them out, or attach them to a reason. There is immense transformative power in just being with whatever we’re feeling, whether it’s a little bout of perfectionism stopping the flow of words on the page, a little out of the blue heartache causing us to engage more hesitantly in our relationships, or a little spiritual fatigue asking us to stop our striving and just rest.
The challenge is: Can you just be with the fact that you don’t feel as on point, as inspired, as on fire, or as in love today as you were yesterday or as you want to be? Can you just sit with that feeling, without trying to make sense of it or solve it like it’s a problem? Can you consider the possibility that it’s completely and perfectly normal to feel the way you’re feeling and that the idea that you should feel a certain way all the time is the real insanity?
Once we acknowledge our multi-dimensional, dynamic nature, we can use this awareness to our advantage. One way I do this is by bringing variety to my routines and rituals to bypass the expectation that it’s going to be the same all the time. I have a basket of our spiritual practices that I draw on depending on the day and the mood. Some mornings, I begin with prayer and seated meditation; other mornings, I write until my consciousness is clear, and others, I roll out of bed and onto the yoga mat. Some days, I do all of those things but change the order, and on other days, I skip those practices altogether and begin with a walk. Similarly, I mix things up with my writing in terms of where I write, when I write, and even how I write. When I’m writing songs, sometimes I start with a melody; other times, I’ll begin with a title and craft the lyrics first, and sometimes, I start with a piece of music and go from there.
This varied approach honors my dynamic nature and is a way of treating my inner artist with care, saying, “I know you’re not a one-trick pony,” and it restores the romance and flavor to process. Living our lives with this same level of sensitivity and attention to our ever-changing and evolving states is a true expression of self-love. The best way to stay connected to our center and grounded in the midst of all the fluctuation is to remain rooted in the knowing that everything is always changing all the time, including us. Then, we can embrace it and surf the waves of life. This doesn’t ensure that we will feel great all the time or always be at the top of our game, but it will ensure a better ride, where the highs get higher and the lows are not as low.
Chris Assaad is a singer/songwriter from Toronto who left a promising career in law several years ago to pursue his dream of a career in music. Since then, Chris has been actively using his voice to enCOURAGE others to follow their dreams, express their creativity, and live life to the fullest.
*Image courtesy of chausinho.October 24, 2013