Making art for art’s sake grants a grand opportunity to practice all the things researchers and enlightened ones tell us are needed to achieve sparkly, unicorn-level happiness. Surely you have heard or seen the many memes, including “stay in the moment”, “relax into now”, and “be vs. do” (even though we are actually doing a little bit if we are making art - squink!*).
Sounds good…but, have you ever noticed how not present you can be while creating something? In that very moment where perfect-presence-in-meditative-imaginings should be available, the totality can get mowed down in a heartbeat by a distracting thought. Even though you’ve finally snagged time, space, and privacy for some creative nourishment, here you are, paint brush in hand, thinking about something or someone else.
At least this happens to me: I’m here in my studio, music on, tea steaming, slips on the toesies, the wee cat in a curl nearby, my paintbrush in colorful action, but I am nowhere to be found. Why? Because I’m off in my damn thoughts. This can be OK to a degree and still delivers a nice moment, but let’s be honest. This is not "The Zone” that brings bliss and meditative benefits. Nope, it’s just doodling while distracted really.
What’s the point of making art (or doing anything desirable for that matter!) if we’re checked out while in process? There may not be one. However, there is a nifty trick for shifting focus back to the now: Become more curious!
“Really? Is that true?” you ask, and I answer
“Well done! That is a very curious question you just queried.”
Yes, it is true. When you open your mind to curiosity, you become open to receiving new information, learning as it were. This state tells your brain to pay attention to what is happening. As an example, when I want to reground in my moment of painting, I start noticing my hand move the brush, as if it belongs to a stranger; I get absorbed in the colors swirling into the water; or I follow the trail of paint transferring to the paper. I almost watch as if I am not doing the action, but it is happening before me. I stay in a state of not knowing and not predicting, but rather just observing. This fills enough mental space to keep me present and at peace. Highly recommend!
Of course this can work in life as well. Try it while chopping veggies. Get curious about what your hand is doing and how each slice will come out. Nobody's looking, so seriously, try it! Let me know if you can shift your focus back.
Please share with anyone you think could use a few tips for creative relaxation in life.
Sending Creative JuJu,