The Artist’s Way: Week 5 – Recover a Sense of Possibility
This is an ongoing series about my experiences with Julia Cameron’s program, The Artist’s Way: A spiritual path to higher creativity. It’s a 12 week program designed to help reboot your creative process and after hearing about it from several friends over the past few years, I gathered a group of like minded creatives and we are embarking on this journey together! You can find the other related entries here.
A Bit of a Block
I know I haven’t updated in a while. I’m still doing the program, it’s just that week five really threw me for a loop. I found it a very hard chapter to read and work through for a number of reasons. The chapter’s main goal was to explore the payoffs we receive in order to remain stuck. The notion being that there is clearly some benefit in not creating the things that we want to create, so what is it? And how do we move past it?
Interestingly, I realized that this was the same chapter that stumped me the last time I attempted to do this program alone. “Most of us never consider how powerful the universe really is. Instead we draw very limited amounts of the power available to us,” Cameron writes. “We unconsciously set a limit of how much the universe can give us or help us. We are stingy with ourselves, and if we receive a gift beyond our imagining, we give it back.”
Those words rang so true for me, because it hit on the notion of abundance (a recurring theme in my pages) and an unarticulated guilt that I feel in wanting more when I already have so much to be grateful for. That was a big one for me. I am a very big believer in the power of gratitude and appreciating the blessings in our lives, and so there was some friction in wanting to unleash my desire to create different types of art and the feeling that I have already had more than “my share.” Cameron argues that the universe is in fact an unlimited supply and that by tapping into it for our own purposes we are not depriving someone else of theirs.
Working with this thought through my morning pages felt like a big breakthrough for me, an unblocking of something that I hadn’t even realized was holding me back. And so, in letting it go, I found it much easier to go back to a place dreaming, of wishing.
The Vision Board:
This week, we were told to create an image file, or vision board. I love the idea of vision boards, and I have used them at several points in my life. The idea of manifesting is fascinating to me not just from a spiritual perspective but from a scientific one as well. In the book “The Happiness Hypothesis,” author Jonathan Haidt describes how our unconscious brain is always working at filtering information and determining what is important for our attention. By creating things like vision boards, we are providing that part of our brain (that works faster, longer, and harder than our conscious one) with visual cues of what we want to work towards. This helps the brain to prioritize information and that’s why people often feel like magical things happen when they start using these sorts of tools. The reality is it’s not magic, but your brain making sure you see what it now considers to be a necessary piece of stimulus.
I created my own vision board on Pinterest and it’s a really fun exercise to think of what you want and how to visually represent them. I found it fun and frivolous and an enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The Block Payoff
Finally, it was realizing that the payoff to being blocked was in being able to stay in a space of familiar anxiety, instead of an unknown anxiety. “It’s the devil you know,” is an apt way to describe it. I would rather stay “blocked” in this familiar space where I can lament my lack of productivity or creativity then move forward into a new space where I actually create something and then must deal with the stress of having people react to it. It’s funny the lengths that our mind will go through to protect us from this type of stress. Realizing that I often supported this block by consuming content instead of creating it (as highlighted by my media fast last week) only served to truly drive this point home.