Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's Haunting You?

This morning my husband had a great way of describing a common experience "I've got this unresolved problem at work and it's really haunting me."  I realized that I completely understood what he was talking about and it was a great way of describing a very common experience.  Another interesting way to think about it is "you're always meditating." Whatever's on your mind is what you're spending one of your most valuable resources on - your subconscious. It's a powerful tool that can help you become more creative if you stop clogging it with crap. People who accomplish a lot, do so by narrowing their focus to the areas they feel are important.  It takes a certain amount of self-confidence and self-esteem to defend that mental resource. 

So, I ask you, what's haunting you and how do you go about changing it? How do you make sure you're using that energy building your creative output as opposed to frittering it away on the worries that follow us around?

A good first step is becoming conscious of what's happening. By consciously realizing you're spending your time haunted by something other than creative issues, you move closer to changing that dynamic. 

Decide what you will be thinking about, what's going to be "haunting" you. There's an urgency to negative problems that probably has evolutionary roots, as in "Oh, look there's a bear coming, better deal with it." But too often we're ruminating on imagined consequences and travails...nothing that moves us forward. So "tell" your mind what you'd like to be meditating on. 

Think about looking for patterns of interest in your own life. As a kid I was obsessed with mythology and stories...all while being dragged to art museums by my art historian mother.  I was always interested in an alternative reality - under the life we think we know...there's this entire other world. I don't think we make art out of a vacuum - I think there are always threads in our early lives. I'm not sure how these early experiences and passions will play themselves out as visual images - but I'm pretty sure that focusing on them will set me on a path to make images that feel personal and relevant for me. 

So, consider these three recommendations as steps to set you on the path to becoming a more effective, creative and personal artist: 

1. Recognize the problem - we are always meditating - we are always being the question is  What do you want to spend that energy on?

2. Start to define your goals - I know it sounds boring and lacks the magic of pure creativity - but I don't actually think creativity is magic - it's more like slow cooking - you put in the ingredients - give it some time and magic happens when you allow the items to marinate, to evolve, which they will if you have faith in the process. The more you experience this magic, the more faith you'll have in it.

3. Going back. Mining your own experiences. What did you obsess about? What were your passions as a kid - those intense experiences that imprinted on your psyche? There's often a thread of authenticity in the experiences we have as kids - and "reviving" that intensity may put you back to that open child-like mindset.

Speaking of what's haunting me - you may be aware that Photography is one of the programs that could be cut due to budget deficits this year. In response our students in the LBCC Photo Program posted this video on the program and why it should be saved. Please feel free to repost.

1 comment:

  1. These are really good insights, Ann. Confronting the incessant, insistent dual demands on our attention (our consciousness) raises our awareness of how finite and precious our time is - and how important that, as creators, we try to discipline our use of that time to follow our truth, and not just what happens to intrude on us.

    Admittedly, there *have* been some recent times in La Crescenta when there really *was* a bear coming! However, I managed to keep painting on those days, too.

    Flippancy aside, though, I also read in your final three "koans" the essential questions that face all people: Why am I here (what do I want to do with the time I have)? Where am I going? Where do I come from? To consciously engage these is to begin the building of that other world which our creative selves yearn to find.