Meditation presents an interesting paradox. It requires humility and acceptance, and yet it results in self-empowerment and increased confidence.
Low self-esteem, which affects and can cripple many creative artists, leads us to believe that we're not worth much, and therefore our ideas (our songs) probably aren't either. This low self-esteem is a distant cousin to humility. Humility involves accepting ourselves for who we are, which includes our limitations.
So, our goal is to humbly seek answers from within (meditation) and from above (prayer). Even more important is to accept the answers we receive. Accepting them, even if we don't like, or are surprised by what we hear, can enrich our lives with peace and contentment. The answers may also hold lots of wonderful ideas for our creative endeavors.
Artists sometimes have the experience of music, words, or other ideas, coming to them from "out of nowhere". Where is this "nowhere" and how can we go in there after all of those great ideas??
How do we get from the point of damaging low self-esteem (giving a microphone and stage to our inner critics and then beating ourselves over the head about what we're hearing), to genuine humility, meditation, self-acceptance and creative bounty?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Practice gratitude ? When you're so busy being grateful for all the things you have (your health, your mobility, a few bucks in your pocket, food & shelter, friends & family) and that you're good at (face it, there's only a small percentage of the population with musical gifts and even less who are doing anything with them!), your inner critic won't stand a chance! A great practice (which even Oprah Winfrey is known to promote) is a daily list of things you're grateful for.
2. Meditation - There are countless books, tapes, videos and classes that teach people how to meditate. Here are some basic tips and I encourage you to explore further.
a. Ask a question ? If you're busy struggling to figure something out (how those two lines are going to go together, what chord structure to use for the bridge, or how you're going to make rent this month), try letting go of the struggle and simply letting the question of what to do "hang out" for a while. Ask it, and then sit quietly and see what answers pop into your head. You can also try writing it on a piece of paper and putting it under your pillow.
b. Toning ? Toning is a way to use your singing voice to achieve extraordinary calm, connection to spirit, connection to others and physical relaxation. Take a deep breath, filling your diaphragm and then your lungs. On exhalation, choose a vowel, pitch and volume that feel comfortable and effortless, and sing a steady tone until you're ready to take a new breath. For more ideas on using music as a tool of spiritual connection and creativity, I highly recommend the book Essential Musical Intelligence by Dr. Louise Montello.
c. Rest your gaze ? Find something that you find soothing to look at. Some people use a landscape picture, a burning candle, a spot on the wall, a flower-it really can be anything. Focus on the object and gaze at it deeply, letting thoughts come and go and staying present in the moment.
d. Journal ? Write your question at the top of a piece of paper, or on your computer, and answer the question in a stream of consciousness style.
e. Walking Meditation ? Pose your question to yourself at the beginning of your walk. While outdoors, become very present in the moment and notice the things around you. When thoughts and answers flow in to your mind, notice them and then bring your attention back to everything you're seeing.
f. More Meditation Tips - If you find yourself analyzing or "figuring things out" during the meditation process, gently let go of that and ask the question again. Don't judge any of your ideas or answers-simply collect them.
3. Prayer ? prayer allows us to humbly acknowledge that there is a life force bigger than ourselves. Many of the artists I spoke to for my book, "The Creativity Interviews" (http://www.genuinecoaching.com/creativity-interviews.html), spoke of being a channel for something bigger-that their creative works were simply a communication from spirit, and that their job was simply to express it. That IS a humbling thought!
I hope this article will help you to find inspiration, while letting go of the struggle to find it. I also hope that writing a gratitude list, at least once, will help you to connect with your gifts, strengths and abundance.
This article was originally published on the Muses Muse Songwriter's Resource website (October 2004) http://www.musesmuse.com.
(c) Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services.
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, helps artists enhance their creativity by addressing their unique self-care issues. To receive her free monthly newsletter, "Everyday Artist", subscribe at http://www.genuinecoaching.com/artist-newsletter.html