I am scratching my head in front of the computer. Taking a sip of water. Writing three words and then deleting them. Writing them again. Ugh, no. All wrong. More scratching. More writing and deleting. Finally, a thump. I’ve closed my laptop. My morning’s writing session is done.
In order to write, I need my groove, my muse, my connection to the divine. Call it, if you like, the elusive god of Creativity. As Mrs. Windermere, the playwright from Gary D. Schmidt’s fabulous Okay For Now, says: “Creativity is a god who comes only when he pleases, and it isn’t very often. But when he does come, he sits beside my desk and folds his wings and I offer him whatever he wants, and in exchange he lets me type all sorts of things….” But how do I get the god to come?
At 5 in the morning, the sky is dark and the air outside is bone-shivering cold, even in Sunny California. Every morning, I pull out my blue yoga mat, set it facing east, and practice qigong and meditate. With my mind seeking peace and rest, oftentimes my best ideas arise. Behold, the god of Creativity hovers before my eyes, his wings tipped invitingly toward the computer. And the question arises, do I stay and finish my practice, or do I charge at the computer and write? Will he get bored watching me if I continue to sit motionless on a pillow? Will he stay awhile or fly away?
Tom Leichardt of Inner Alchemy Center once said to me (and I am paraphrasing his wisdom): We practice qigong and meditate in order to open our connection to the divine, but if you’re already connected, instead of sticking to a rigid practice, be flexible and follow your heart. Flexibility in a spiritual practice! Can you imagine? I love my morning qigong practice, my Reiki self care, sitting on my meditation pillow. I want to be consistent in my practice and do it, all parts of it, every day. And yet, despite my need to cling to the morning qigong, Reiki, meditation routine, I see the wisdom of what Tom says. I see the wisdom in accepting the invitation of the god when he shows up on my desk. I see the wisdom in gratefully accepting right away the touch of the divine.
I believe it was the Dalai Lama who once responded to a man’s complaint that he had no time to meditate by asking: Do you have time to breathe? In Hebrew, the saying, “I have no time to breathe,” is often used to express how busy we are. An exaggeration, one can only hope. If we have time to breathe, we do, in fact, have time to meditate, to do what Tara Brach calls the Sacred Pause. Writing this blog, I find myself often pausing and reconnecting to the divine. Closing my eyes, I ask myself: what is happening in my body now? I can feel the weight near my heart that comes of writing to you my personal story, born of the fears I still have of acceptance, of rejection. I can feel the sizzle at the end of my fingertips, the eagerness to write. The tension in my jaw: “Why are you pausing?” My inner critic asks, “Just write!”
Acknowledging everything that is happening in my body gives me a greater connection to the god with his folded wings as he sits right here at the edge of my desk. The god doesn’t mind the mess on on my desk. He doesn’t mind the critic or the fears. He is a pure and objective flow of words and ideas. When he is here, he is generosity incarnate.
Here are some of my ways of touching the divine:
Meditation. I’ve written about meditation in a previous blog post. Any place, any time is good. Pausing in the midst of the day to check how I’m feeling, what is happening inside me, is great. Allowing the body to rest in stillness for a little while, even if the mind is restless, is as worthy of the exercise as if I’ve reached nirvana every time. Allowing the connection to the divine to form effortlessly, not really seeking, just resting in the body, letting go of the chaos of the mind.
Walking in the woods. As John Muir said: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” I often get my best ideas when hugging a tree or looking at a gorgeous landscape. My words flow effortlessly in heavens like the Hawaiian Islands, little points of joy like the bay at Los Osos, or majestic parks such as Yosemite or the Smokies. Bring a little notebook along so you can jot down ideas and remember them. I can’t tell you how often I wished for one when I left it at home! Simply spending time outside (or getting up from the computer and moving to a more splendid scenery like my backyard) can also reconnect me to the divine. Even something as small as watering the potted plants!
A chocolate donut. Ok, so I admit that I’ve been craving one of Zest’s gluten free and dairy free chocolate donuts for a few weeks now. I do, however, really believe that food is one way of connecting to the divine. Eat something you love and enjoy it whole-heartedly before, during AND after. Food tastes so much better with love! Appreciating the food we eat, the creativity and love put into cooking it, and the people who made it (whether I cooked or someone else) is a way to reconnect to the god with his folded wings. While eating the donut, taste that molten chocolate and imagine the cocoa tree growing in Hawaii, the cocoa pods hanging close to the trunk. Imagine the vanilla orchid climbing elegantly, twisting around the cocoa plant, or the wheat (or rice, if you’re gluten free), waving its gold-tipped crown in the breeze. For Mrs. Windermere, the food of creativity is probably ice cream: lemon, peppermint, mint chocolate chip, raspberry sherbet. For me ice cream is a little cold, but with a huge splash of chocolate fudge on top, I’ll accept any non-dairy kind.
Talking. Talking over my ideas I find to be a tough one. Sometimes I develop my ideas more fully by speaking about them to others, and they get more grounded in my mind, more memorable. But sometimes by talking about my ideas, they lose their urgency, and I end up never using them in my blog or book, almost as though I’ve used them up, a one-chance shot. Pay attention to what happens when you talk over your ideas with a friend — is it useful or not? — this is another time you can use that ever-useful tool, the Sacred Pause.
Do you have ways of touching the divine? Please share them with me in the comments below! I love your comments!