July 23, 2013

5 Rules for the Artistic Yogi. ~ Stephanie Carlin

“The artist and the yogi have one very important thing in common: the moment of transcendence.”

This piece is an antithesis to my own shortcomings. It is a written reminder on how the yogi and artist fuel each other within the spirit, holding the power to enlighten, inspire, and heal by shifting vibrations within the self and in others.

1. Show up. Don’t miscalculate the importance of a small window of time.

The power of routine can refine and master any task. Creative energy spawns from constantly churning out ideas, regardless of their brilliance or banality. The simplest way to continually churn your thoughts is to stay connected to your projects and intents every day, regardless of the outcome.

Show up regularly and inspiration will follow you. Doing any sort of personal work is dependent upon showing up every day. A daily asana practice, keeping a journal, recording music, or shooting a short film—whatever the medium, you’ll be producing work. It may not be your best at first, but the goal was to show up, not to make great work.

2. Embrace imperfection. Showing up for the work is half the battle; dodging your own self-criticism is the other.

Art is firmly rooted in the fact that it heals. Art heals, and while you don’t have to be brilliant to make it, you have to be courageous to share it.

Even the “perfect project” is not flawless. Perfectionism is a tool for procrastinators and self-saboteurs. It gives us an excuse not to ship out our work and move forward. Rather, what makes an artistic endeavor “perfect” is the intent behind its creation and the intent behind sharing it with others.

At the end of the day, when our art is shipped out to the world, it’s not really about you, the creator, any more. It’s more about how the art will affect the listener.

But it’s still filled with your intent, and hopefully it’s your most authentic, raw, honest intention. That authenticity is transferred to the listener.

3. Start simple to evolve creatively. Make art by validating your feelings as they are right now.

Give your feelings space to live, no matter how mundane. “I like how my neighbor upstairs sounds like a wildebeest when she fucks her husband.” Or, “My brother is in the hospital and I feel hollow.”

When you show up every day and reveal your feelings in the moment, you spiral deeper into your own warped rabbit hole of authenticity. You grow more honest by the day, peeling the onion back to the deepest layer of genuine, raw intimacy.

After I edit my music video, call promoters, book a Northeast tour, design the latest show poster, face my book, tweet my Twitter, climb my Vine, and post my breakfast on Instagram, there isn’t much time left to write a song.

But shit, actually the song comes first. And the song could be about nuclear radiation deforming Iraqi babies or the idolization of women in modern patriarch society, I guess, but really it just needs to be about how I feel, right now.

4. Discipline leads to spontaneity. Any musician must understand the song on a theoretical (nearly mathematical) level before she can move to the emotional level of improvisation.

Same goes for the yogi, huffing and puffing through a Vinyasa sequence until ujjayi shows up, with inhales that are just as long as exhales, filling and emptying the lungs at 100 percent of their capacity.

The artist and the yogi have one very important thing in common: the moment of transcendence. When time stops moving, and the spirit is mesmerized by an organic, unified truth. Where we are all one, and bliss trickles down the spine.

Like water in a sponge, mastery absorbs discipline in any medium. I don’t mean one must “learn the rules in order to break them.” Do what you want with the rules of your medium, learn them or not. But, pushing yourself to your own edge within your skill will help to kill fear, acknowledge imperfections, and keep you showing up every day.

5. Let go. Anxiety kills.

It leaves no room for openness. It gives the artist an excuse not to show up and do the work. It gives fear permission to judge and criticize the creative process. It perpetuates the illusion that we can control thoughts, feelings, and actions beyond our own.

Anxiety feeds into the delusion that things need to be a certain way in order to be happy, that we can blame each other for our own shortcomings or cherish ourselves in an ivory tower of pride and superiority.

Let go. Focus only on what you can control: yourself. Your presence, your process, and your intentions. Remember that as an artist and a yogi, you are undoubtedly bound to all beings.

“Consider the question: Would I rather be right, or would I rather be free? Small selves, or egos, can be right, but they can never be free, because the nature of the ego is to hold oneself separate from others.”

~ Sharon Gannon


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Assistant Ed: Moira Madden/Ed: Bryonie Wise


 {Photo: via Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/victoriapeckham/}

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Stephanie Carlin

Stephanie Carlin is the brainchild behind Brooklyn folk-rock quintet Avidya and the Kleshas. In yoga philosophy, the Kleshas are the five hindrances to enlightenment (ignorance, egoism, attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain, and fear of loss/death). A.A.T.K. aims to address all forms of inner struggle behind these negative emotions. The band has already garnered praise from MTV Hive (“very direct about their intentions”) and Deli Magazine (“attack life’s dissatisfactions with a torrent of folk-jazz truth”). Stephanie is also the creative director of Free Spirits Music, a Brooklyn-based songwriting collective that invites musicians and non-musicians alike to explore the creative process through music.