This past year, I began a practice of sitting with myself: not to meditate, not to breathe, not to study, not to read, not to plan, not to do anything, but to simply sit with myself to wait for creative inspiration.
If you wait, she comes.
If you listen, she speaks.
If you answer, so does she, again and again.
If you engage a conversation with the muse, your creative force, inspiration that arises from the spaces held deep inside your heart, you can be endlessly fed by her inspiration and influence. The creativity that she inspires gives one something to feed the anxious energy that bubbles up by the simple act of living in a post-industrialized world.
Sitting in my “musing” chair everyday was born out of an inability to deal with anxiety. Life can get pretty big and everyone manages one’s own personal projects, professional life, relationships, family, and friends. I was spinning and doing everything that needed to be done in the day to day, but finding little satisfaction in things that were previously fun and fulfilling. I was hit with a major emotional challenge and the world got tighter and tighter. I felt like I had slipped into a sweater that was two sizes too small.
Last year, over a cup of tea, while comforting my physical and emotional fatigue, a dear friend asked me, “Do you have your own office, or your own special room? In your life, do you have a place to call your own?”
“No,” was my clear response. I was sharing two office spaces, so I was never in either. I preferred to do my work at coffee shops or even at my dining room table. I was constantly between two or three places and as a result, was never really anywhere at all. All of my work was piled into many bags and though organized and separated by the various hats I wear in the day to day, I hauled all of these bags around everyday. I constantly considered myself weighed down, literally, by my “to do’s”.
I sat alone in my car one afternoon, gearing myself up to carry the six tote bags I had with me into the yoga studio. I did not need half of it all the time but I needed all of it some of the time, so it simply all went everywhere. It was heavy, so I sat still for a second readying myself. I did not even realize I was thinking. I had no idea I was listening.
“The massage room is your new office. In fact, it is your castle. No, it is your peace palace. Make it beautiful.”
I did not even hesitate for a second to consider WHO just spoke in my head and whether or not it was a good idea to listen to and then act upon the voices in one’s head. I sherpa’ed my many bags into the building for the last time. I stayed there well past closing: I moved the massage items out and I moved all of my inspiration in and it fit. It all fit. In fact, I fit. It had a peaceful glow. It was my own room. I lit a stick of incense and sat thoughtfully in the middle of the floor and admired all the beauty that I had chosen to surround myself.
It started there and then it continued.
I sat one morning sipping my tea before racing to the studio to weave a quick practice in between the end of one class and the start of another. I harumpf-ed at the thought of having to rush out of the house just to rush through a yoga practice elsewhere. It seemed so counter intuitive! This is the first time I recall actually asking a question,
“How can I re-arrange this house to carve a practice space out for myself so I can make more room for myself and what brings me joy?”
“You no longer need a home office upstairs. Move all of that stuff out and yourself, beauty, time, and inspiration in.”
After short series of events and sifting items, re-directing files and furniture, the walls were painted a sky-like blue, and a cork floor was put in place.
I rolled out my mat the first time and cried, not out of sadness, but out of beauty. I felt sheer gratitude. The physical space was there the entire time I had lived in the house, just feet from my bedroom. I had no idea it held this much potential to house my creative energy until I listened to myself.
I listened to myself, but was it me that was responding? I mean, these were two really good ideas.
I looked back across my life, all my creative impulses seem to have come out of the blue and I guess I had never passed from my doing to consider who was doing the cuing?
There is a sacred chair in the peace palace. I began to sit in it daily.
I began to listen. I began a practice of listening. I began a practice of really listening.
She began to speak.
She began to really speak.
I began to follow the inspiration. I began to feel engaged in the day to day. I began to feel like I did less and experienced more.
This practice shifted everything. This practice shifted my asana practice and the way that I moved on the mat. This practice shifted the way I moved in the world. This practice shifted the way I entertained relationships, conflict, collaboration, saying yes, and saying no.
Now, I listen. She speaks. She inspires. I follow the inspiration.
When the inspiration dries up, I listen again. As long as I remember to sit and listen, there she is with more and more and more.
Inspiration is an endless source of conversation.
Where will you sit to start listening?
Here’s to creating artful spaces in the everyday.