The questions still come up among the writers, designers, and entrepreneurs I work with: Is the muse out there somewhere or within? Doesn’t the very idea of the “muse” imply I’m at the whim of something else?
Two clients last week in two separate meetings raised, in essence, these very questions, so we need to raise the discussion again.
These questions have gnawed at me since I coined the phrase “Yoga As Muse” years ago. And over the years the phrase has rubbed more than one person with whom I’ve worked the wrong way. Once, a writer in Taos, New Mexico said to me in private something to the effect of, “I like what you’re doing, but there’s something about the word ‘muse’ that doesn’t sit right with me. Something about some entity outside of me,” and her flittering fingers made a gesture that implied fairy dust.
I nodded and said something like, “Right, right.” I cleared my throat and said, “But the idea of Yoga As Muse is that the muse is within and that any source of ‘inspiration’ is at our disposal as readily as is the harnessed breath.” She wasn’t satisfied. “Muse” still said to her Tinkerbell.
Isn’t there a lyrical stream still running under ice?
If so, is it so cold it’s hot?
When you let thoughts stop falling into slots, do they make snow, tears, a stream, or an umbrella?
What if we each have many streams of consciousness instead of just one?
Isn’t the body always shaping thoughts the way unseen soil feeds the tallest tree boughs?
Isn’t it time to climb down from the tower?
A hungry junco’s trident feet sketch arrows of desire in the snow.
Will you follow them or make your own?
Enjoy your weekend. See you in the woods.
Drop in the Hut
What questions are you living in today?
Do you find anything unusual about this photograph? It appeared in David Segal’s excellent recent New York Times Magazine’s article on how creativity thought leaders are changing the way creativity happens in corporations. The article features Dev Petnaik’s innovative team of creativity consultants, Jump Associates. This photograph shows the team performing yogic stretches before their brainstorming session.
What’s the connection? Why would one of the nation’s top-notch creativity teams (paid around $200,000 a day for some sessions) stretch before brainstorming? How does engaging the body stimulate creative innovation? Read more
Note: Once a week – maybe each Tuesday – I’ll offer a resource for tracking wonder. These resources are highlighted in Tracking Wonder Handbook Two called THE SERENDIPITY SLIDE: 20-Plus Resources to TRACK WONDER for Your Creative Profession & Life (download-able by entering your email in the box to the right).
I’d be the first to tell you to get out into the woods or at least take a walk around a city block to experience – full-bodied – the wonders of your small world and to shake your creative mind out of its four-walled ruts. But the World-Wide Web offers its own wonders.
The most innovative, creative people I know and interview regard each day a certain way. An opportunity. A window. A portal. They also have learned to watch how their minds sabotage or fashion their reality. I don’t think any of them are prone to voicing a default complaint like, “Today was a lousy day.”
A day can be more than a box (or inbox) to fill and empty or a list of tasks to create and check off. I’m convinced each day is a collective poem begging to be shaped and written by each of us.
I have naive theories. That the more we pay attention now, the deeper our memory is later. That the more we tend to small things, the more fertile our imaginations. That the best and biggest ideas come from observing things the size of dragonfly wings. That what we pay attention to forms our reality.
That wonder scurries everywhere, and we have the tools to glimpse it. That we can affect how one another experiences each day.
When I was a tow-headed boy in summer camp, I’d send myself to sleep by recreating the full day from reveille to lights out. In my twenties, I made up a simple game for myself. At each day’s end, I’d ask myself this question: What were your day’s three highlights? I’d try to recall the simplest sensory moments. Later, I started playing it with my wife.
Now I want to play it with the world and glimpse people’s highlights from all four corners. I call the game “Three Highlights.”
The rules are simple:
1. PAUSE: At the end of each day, pause, reflect, and ask: What were the day’s three highlights?
2. RECOLLECT: Try to remember specific, tangible moments – sensual details, nuanced thoughts, precise words spoken.
3. SHARE: Record them. Share them. Ask someone else the same question.
Play the game regularly, and you’ll notice a creative side-effect: You start paying attention more in anticipation of the question. Gratitude begets paying attention begets gratitude.
“To affect the quality of the day,” that present-moment monger Thoreau writes, “is the highest of the arts.” Maybe together we can create daily masterpieces. Or, heck, at least just finger paint together before we go to sleep each night.
See you in the woods,
Drop in the Hut
What practices help you experience your days optimally? How do you reframe the tendency to say, “Today was a lousy day”? Share your insights below.
I’m a cheerleader for creative action. Getting things done. Making ideas happen. But I want meaningful things done. And I want to make ideas happen with right intention. Some people might argue that intentions don’t matter and are a waste of time. Just act. Ship ideas out. Granted, intentions without actions are of no use. But right intention with right action can make for a doubly powerful creative life in 2011.
Note: In Part 1 of this series, “Goals for No-Goals Creatives,” I noted how I rarely consciously set goals despite my three businesses’ growth. In that article, I offered, though, authentic ways to approach goal-setting. This follow-up article lays out a more intuitive skillful means that has guided my adult life – imagination. I risk going into personal material, but I hope it’s of interest and use. Let me know.
Creativity is a revived currency in business. The New York Times Magazine (December 16, 2010) ran a full feature on the burgeoning field of us creativity consultants and idea leaders. Advances in technology have automated numerous jobs and made follow-instructions-and-gather-information managers almost obsolete. Yet what do we entrepreneurs, micro-business owners, and hybrid artistic practitioners-freelancers do when we make professional plans and goals? Some of us complain that we’re not analytical or MBA-savvy enough and forfeit our innate creative tools. Yes, rigorous analysis of data and competition and the market are necessary, but analysis alone will not get you to the heart of your professional life and future. And for most of us motivated by meaning more than money, we must get to the core to keep our business’s heart beat thumping through good times and bad.
One oft-forgotten tool, inherent to your creativity, can help you get to your professional heart and envision your professional year accordingly.
Good evening. What were your day’s three highlights? Mine: 1. Pulling Dahlia across the frozen pond in her sled. (See personal FB page for photos.) 2. Talking with an interviewer for a Kripalu Center podcast about Tracking Wonder. 3. Mapping out a new chapter on tracking the mind’s wonders.
Three Highlights is a simple game I play each evening. It keeps wonder at the forefront. Post yours below, and let’s compare notes from around the globe.
The publishers at YogaModern.com asked me to respond to their December theme of “the sacred.” I appreciate our sensibility for the sacred, but our constructions of the sacred are rife with problems that I think are of interest to writers, artists, and even entrepreneurs who seek to create something new and dynamic.
For if you tag or perceive something as “sacred” and its apparent opposite as profane, you risk forming an unchecked, dualistic prejudice. In the history of Yoga, Tantrikas have flipped notions of what’s sacred on their proverbial heads. I have written elsewhere [http://yogamodern.com/categories/writing/hatha-yogis-in-the-counter-current-by-jeff-davis-2/] of how classical Yoga maintains that the body is an “ill-smelling… conglomerate of bone, skin, sinew, muscle, marrow, flesh, semen, blood.” So-called “left-handed” Tantrikas have developed practices that involve physical intercourse and eating meat, challenges to purist notions that demarcate the sacred from the profane. Historically, several Tantrikas and Hatha Yogis also allowed women and people of varied classes to become practitioners, a challenge to Brahmin notions of who is and who is not a candidate for sacredness.
Some Western poets and painters, especially but not only during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are artistic Tantrikas.
At YogaModern.com, I take up this topic in more detail. Drop in, and leave some comments. Click here to join in.
And do me a favor if the post provokes, informs, or delights you: Share it on Facebook or Twitter.
See you in the woods,
Tracking Wonder Blog at PsychologyToday
Get Out of the Way Blog at Tiferet Journal
The Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing (Monkfish, 2008, revised & updated)
As we head toward the end of the year, I thought it would be insightful to have a round table on gratitude. Today I want to imagine we’ve gathered four varied and insightful sources on the subject of gratitude, authenticity, and entrepreneurship – a Woodstock-based writer and speaker on innovation & technology, a world-traveling entrepreneur, a London-based consultant on creative entrepreneurship, and a Brooklyn-based designer. Read more