After graduation, I found a wonderful job that paid the bills and allowed me enough free time to create and explore my art without stressful deadlines or rigid requirements, but I discovered that the stress that I had built up over years of intense study had not just fallen away. Even after my academic studies had ended and I began the next phase of my life, the internal pressure I had put on myself for years had become a habit I did not know how to change. I looked over to see my camera covered in a layer of dust. This hit me hard. Why was I so depleted? uninspired? unable to see the beauty around me? My joy in art, the reason I had majored in it in the first place, was blocked.
Stress does not only result from big events; it can build up over many years, slowly, and this slow accumulation of pressure snuck up on me. Unlike the acute stress that occurs during a single, particularly intense event, the more subtle stress that I experienced did not require my immediate attention. It was easy for me to ignore the gradual build up of tension and focus on the next task at hand. It was not until I saw this layer of dust on my camera that I took action and left everything behind to find my creativity. I left my apartment, put everything in storage, left my boyfriend, my friends, my job, and moved into a 1971 VW bus named, Sammi. Then I drove to the desert, turned off my phone, and returned to the basics. I cooked most of my meals out of my van and slept with the rhythm of the sun.
For me, stress is one of the most powerful creativity blockers. When I began meditating and slowly chipping away at the years of stored up anxiety and stress, my creativity was re-ignited, and I was inspired in a way that could not be ignored. As I began studying to be a meditation teacher, the flow of art that came through me increased and I began to more clearly understand the connection between my meditation practice and my creative process. I love to teach in the space where meditation and art meet. What I create now comes from a very different place than the pieces I worked on in college. I pay close attention to what I am feeling when I am creating and I am aware that my inner critic does not need to run the show when I have a paint brush in hand. If I notice I am not creating, e.g. gardening, writing, singing, painting, photographing, flower arranging, I take a step back from my busy schedule, meditate, and make space in my life for unexpected delights. When I begin to see beauty everywhere again, I know I am in the seat of my soul. I am home.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
Looking to ignite your creativity? This June I will be teaching my Creativity and Meditation class at a weekend retreat in Ojai, CA.
Love the animals? Here a few organizations that do wonderful work making sure animals are treated with love.