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.
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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
Wonder is pervasive yet evasive. This point became remarkably clear again when some 3,000 bloggers responded to the prompt I offered for Gwen Bell and her team’s sensational Reverb10 Project: Wonder. How have you cultivated a sense of wonder in your life this year? According to the posts, wonder filled many bloggers’ year. Others bemoaned its scarcity. But numerous bloggers weren’t really sure what this emotion we all talk about is.
Hence, Tracking Wonder Handbooks to help you recognize its signs and feed it. Not one guide, but two. We’ve created two Tracking Wonder Handbooks designed for creatives, creative entrepreneurs, educators – anyone who’s hungry.
TRACKING WONDER HANDBOOK ONE offers you five surprising ways to bring more delight, curiosity, and deep connection into your professional and personal life. TRACKING WONDER HANDBOOK TWO presents 20-plus resources and links to innovators in numerous fields to tease your sense of serendipity and keep your creative mind and action fresh through the year.
Designer Monica Gurevich has drawn upon old Boy Scout and First Aid handbooks as inspiration. That seems apropos since we think tracking wonder is the ultimate survival skill for the 21st century.
In my lifetime, there’s never been a more obvious need to cultivate an ongoing relationship with wonder. We can welcome wonder into our work places & studios, living rooms & kitchens, playgrounds & classrooms. Wonder is at the heart of all creativity. It’s at the heart of wisdom. It’s at the heart of emotional decision-making (which is all human decision-making).
So whether you think wonder pops in for tea each morning or has avoided your route for a solid 15 years since you left adolescence, these handbooks might be right for you adult wonder-trackers.
How to get your two free Tracking Wonder Handbooks:
Simple. Send an e-message to jeffrey [at] trackingwonder [dot] com with WILD PACK in the subject box. We’ll send them both to you.
Oh, and all I ask in return is that you send 10 creatively hungry people back to this page or to trackingwonder.com.
Drop in the Hut
Let us know what other kinds of resources, information, and ideas you’d like that would help you open, innovative, and productive.
See you in the woods,
I never make New Year’s resolutions. (I don’t feel so bad knowing that Luck Factor author and psychologist Richard Wiseman’s study points out this practice’s futility.) I don’t make goals. I’ve tried, but I forget about them within a day or two. Even as my businesses and my life as a writer have grown, goals just don’t factor into what gets me up in the morning.
Some 15 years ago, I led a department of 19 eclectic, rather brilliant English teachers for two crazy years as a stint as Department Chair. I was on fire, as usual, with trying to inspire the group to revolutionize the way we taught writing. For a fleeting moment, the dean probably liked me. One day, an ambitious colleague cornered me in my office and asked what my career goals were. “My what?” I said. “My goals? My career? I didn’t know I had a career.” I resigned from that position and from full-time teaching forever later that year.
Thoreau, not Peter Drucker, was and is my hero and role model. Since I was 18 and first read Walden until now, I remain committed to this simple task: to affect the quality of this day. This one. Not the one six months from now. I gather moments more than goal sheets.
Part of me used to think myself odd, a sort of goofy entrepreneur-writer who would never amount to much because he just lacked the business mind to define “measurable goals” and make a six-month or twelve-month business plan to meet them. When would I grow up and get with the goal-getters? Then I read Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The gist of the book is simple (as are the gists of most good books): Creative people – in the arts and in business and in life – are motivated from within not from without. Autonomy, mastery of something, and purpose drive us more than authority or rewards. Read more
What were your day’s three highlights? Mine: 1. The gratified look on a client’s face when at a session’s end. 2. After a rainy day all day, the pre-sunset sunlight eeking through misty clouds and painting space gold. 3. A monstrous blue heron flying yards from my window.
“Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar.”
– Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
It’s getting dark out early. Have you noticed? Have you adjusted your creative rhythm this final month of 2010? This is the only time 2010 comes around, you know?
Gray shrouds the December sky this morning like the inside of a tortoise shell, and, really, you have no recourse but to resist or embrace the gray, that space between white and black, light and dark.
Rather than plugging along like you have to meet some mortal deadline by December 31, spinning your way past family holiday baggage and the clamor of consumption, consider this: Maybe December is a month to feel darkness nudge up against you and to find your way with it, embrace it like a wild, moody lover. At least that’s what I’m thinking.
I’m wondering this: How can darkness this time of year be sacred and how can that sacred darkness be a way for creatives – the writers and artists and designers, the inventors and scientists and scholars, the entrepreneurs among us – to hone in on some oft-neglected aspects of creative inspiration, innovation, and motivation (Sorry, Orwell, for all the ‘tions.)?
Feeling things intimately can drive us more than money. That’s the finding of business behavior smart guy and “free agent” Daniel Pink. Feeling what we’re doing, immersing ourselves in the moment of activity, crafting meaning from our work – these qualities motivate us.
Yet, emotions often get hijacked by the intellect’s abstraction. A mind with analysis and quotidian fret at the forefront keeps otherwise potentially stoking emotions such as compassion and gratitude at a comfortable distance.
But to keep feelings at bay isn’t an option for creatives and creative entrepreneurs who want to flourish and feel alive in their work, who want to connect with their audience or clients, and ultimately who want to wed an intimate part of themselves with their work or business. Read more
What were your day’s three highlights? Mine: 1. Having three awesome client meetings with three impressive writers who inspire me. 2. Practicing yoga while my wee daughter patted my back each time I flowed into Cobra Pose. 3. 3. Hearing back from two brilliant interview subjects for my next book.
“[G]ood feelings such as affection, pride at a promotion, and enthusiasm for a new project are the carrots on the stick that keep you moving smartly along life’s up-and-down road.” – Winifred Gallagher, RAPT: Attention and the Focused Life (Penguin Press, 2009)
Organization can dog the best of creatives. Many of my clients are writers, artists, and entrepreneurs who juggle multiple projects and obligations. I keep at least five projects in the air at any given time, each of which requires at least a few dozen tasks to complete.
So how do we stay on top of those projects without driving ourselves daft and our intimate partners away? How can a small amount of time invested in flexible creative organization end up saving time?
Creative organization can be a flexible, enjoyable way to shape attention, physical space, and actions. When we shape these three things – attention, space, and actions – we increase the likelihood that we can get in that flow that psychologist Mihaly Cskiszentmihalyi describes. Read more
I can say unabashedly that I love my relationships with my clients. My work with them brings deep gratification. Our conversations feed my own creative projects, and their tenacity often inspires me.
As the year’s end approaches, I’m reflecting on how far my clients have come in their projects and ventures. I want to show them or express to them what their relationships have meant to me. Like other positive emotions such as compassion, gratitude can sound like a good idea, a noble concept. But I’ve been wondering,
How can creative entrepreneurs express gratitude to clients genuinely, authentically, memorably? Read more