Monday, May 21, 2012

Mindful Creativity

Deb and Barbara have a 3-way with Lori Landau

Barbara: Deb and I haven’t done a three-way in a loooong time. We used to do them once a month, inviting a fellow blogger-commenter here to share some personal thoughts or concerns (if you haven’t read any and are curious, check out the sidebar from last year and look for “Deb and Barbara have a 3-way”). We absolutely loved doing it—but, like everything blog-related, it requires a certain amount of discipline, forethought, and organization. Sadly, sometimes these are in shorter supply!

Lori: creativity personified.
So I’ve been chatting a lot lately with Lori of Conscious Creativity (who comments here frequently with those doozy, pinpoint-perfect reflections). I am always drawn to the idea of the “mentor” and, while I’m sure Lori will deny any such thing on her part, as my self-appointed mentor, she has brought me an incredible treasure trove of wisdom, insight, support, love and calm over these precious months. I asked Lori if she wouldn’t mind sharing some of her goodies with you guys today, as her insight into creativity—if you’re curious about it—is some of the best I’ve ever come across. Lori, thank you for being such a wise and brilliant you, and thank you for letting me share you with our blog-peeps today!

Lori: People often ask me how my meditation practice influences my creative output, and where I find the time to make so many things in the first place (I draw and/or take photographs and write every day). But I’ll tell you a secret, something that I have discovered from years of creating, meditating, and contemplating what it’s all about: creativity isn’t a matter of doing. It’s a matter of listening. I’ve learned that to create is to be open to receiving a message that everything that exists is art, that art doesn’t just imitate life, it is an integral part of it. Art is both within us and outside of us. Everything is made of the same primordial stuff: light, energy, sounds, colors, shapes. Practicing meditation has increased my perceptual clarity and shown me that that rather than making art, I’m participating in it. Like everyone else, I’m part of what Baba Muktananda called “the play of consciousness,” and as such, I’ve learned there are an infinite number of ways to express my own individual consciousness. In other words, I’m co-creating right along with life via the choices I make. And I choose to express myself creatively on a day-to-day basis.
Original artwork by Lori Landau. Do not reproduce without permission.
What I create is the byproduct of my fascination and discomfort with the world around me. For me, the stuff of life itself is an inspiration. I make art because it is how I translate the emotional and visual content of the world to myself. My process is intricately connected to ordinary, everyday life moments. Making art becomes my way of making something extraordinary out of the mundane; something larger than myself, something that can reach beyond the borders of flesh that separates me from others. I make art to assert to myself that I’m here right now, and if my work happens to move someone, it reminds me that I’m not alone in my feelings or experiences, that we’ll all in this being human together.

I know what you’re thinking. “How nice for her.” And if you’ve also added on “but I could never do that,” then you’re the person I’m writing this for. Because you can.  You just need to change your internal dialogue and literally talk yourself into believing it.

The Buddha said: “Your thoughts create your words, your words create your deeds, your deeds become habit, and habit hardens into character.” By changing your relationship to yourself, you can think, speak and act yourself through the creative doorway.
Original artwork by Lori Landau. Do not reproduce without permission.
Being creatively productive isn't something that just magically occurs. The reality is that creative acts are made up of small, incremental steps that add up. Here is a collection of my own personal creative “tips” to tempt you into action. And let me know how they work for you. I’m listening.

1. Put yourself first: If you wait until everything else is done, you'll never get to it. Trust me. As the mother of three, I know this to be true. An added bonus of being a practicing creative within a family; your kids will learn how to access their own inner artist and allow themselves to be creative.

2. Keep company with “creatives”: Being in a creative environment or hanging out with artists, writers, musicians will inspire you and jumpstart your own creative impulses. Get together with others to write, draw or see art.

3. Develop a ritual: Creativity is a muscle. So repeating the same actions every day (like writing in your journal or taking a photo a day) prompts the mind to build the creative habit.

4. Let art imitate life: document the things that capture your fancy, as well as the things that upset you. Express your emotions by being creative, instead of dramatic. A good way to do this is by making lists of details about your day.

5. You can take it with you: carry a journal or a notebook with you and use it in small moments to capture your thoughts and impressions in words or drawings. You’ll be surprised how fast those small moments add up to a body of work.

6. Start at the beginning: All creative projects have a beginning, a middle, and an ending.
Don’t mistake the desire for a brilliant finished project for the joy of being in the process. Ground yourself in what you’re doing, and the product will take care of itself.

7. Set limits: Without allowing emptiness, you cannot have the possibility of everything at your fingertips. But if you’re overwhelmed by the blank page, set a topic or theme. Creating within confines will help fuel creative action.

8. Move your body. Moving the body helps bring new energy to our endeavors. Turning the usual way of doing things upside down helps us see things in a new light.

9. Get out of your own way: If you tell yourself that you aren’t creative, you won’t be. Use your energy to empower yourself instead. Your thoughts are powerful, practice replacing negative self-messages with positive ones.

10. Meditate. A daily meditation practice helps create inner space. Clearing your mind of clutter helps you get to your own creative center. You’ll know it as the calm eye within the storm of existence.

Becoming more creative isn’t about changing who we essentially are. It is about learning to recognize that it is already within us, if we can just get quiet enough to hear it.

Deb: I cannot even begin to express how timely this is. Lori, your words have hit me with a lovely arrow in my heart. They are the blueprint for what I try to do every day, succeeding sometimes and failing other times. But as I say when I travel, “I focus on what I see, not what I don’t see”. Same with this. I don’t beat myself up when I fail at this philosophy, instead I try to embrace the every day of it, even when I can’t.

Lori, this has resonated in the heart of me today. We lost a dear friend this weekend, killed tragically in a car accident. So I am sorry, friends. I cannot formulate thoughts as I normally would on this wonderful subject. We are deeply in mourning and will share our friend’s life with you this week. Until then, I have learned over and over and have been tragically reminded that life is indeed short. Create. Please. For you, for all of us.

Lori Landau’s work explores the link between creativity and consciousness, while striving to spark a concerned dialogue about global issues. Both artist and writer, yogi and mom, this native New Yorker has written for a variety of magazines including Adweek, AdAge, Elegant Bride, Sportswear International and others. She was a regular contributor to the Silicon Valley Mom’s blog, and now writes for Technorati. Her most recent photographic series, titled Elemental Soul, was featured at the New York Open Center. Long inspired by Buddhist philosophy, she is certified to teach yoga and meditation. Currently, she is working on a book of self-illustrated dream poems, as well as a series of portraits. She blogs about her art, photography, and yogic philosophy at www.consciousnesscreativity.com

50 comments:

  1. This is so.....I can't explain..I just EXPECT things that are so so resonant from this blog, especially for me!(Barb I love you girl....<3). Lori, you explained this whole thing wonderfully. Ive been living my life like this for about a year now...and the steps you gave really resonated within me.... Its gonna be really helpful for me from now on....I was kinda waiting for this post.. Ive read your comments and they are so perfect.
    And you said something I so believe in and tell everyone... Whats in your mind is in your life. If you believe in something then it happens !!! Perfect Perfect Perfect. Nothing else I can say coz...Its like reading my inner-being's thoughts lol.
    Your truly spoke from the core of what we all are..Wisdom and Love and EMPOWERED !!!
    I just wanna say one thing to everyone.. Your power is in the NOW...!!!! not what happened in the past or what will happen in the future.. Live every moment now.....forget the past and look forward to a bright future...Trust me..IT WORKS !!!

    and Deb I heard about Paul.. How are you guys holding up ? I'm so so sorry. I hope your friend Linda is doing better now. Give her lots of love and blessings from me...xo And hugs to You and Colin too...you guys must be devastated. And I'm here if you need to talk k. :) Love ya hun! xoxoxo

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    1. I'm so glad that my thoughts on how to stir creativity channeled yours. I always read your comments here, so it doesn't surprise me that someone who thinks and feels so deeply has found a way to empower creativity in the moment....and the next moment....and the next......thank you for taking the time to comment xo

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    2. So sweet of you that you read my comments. I always love meeting someone so connected to their core self. You are definitely one of them ! xoxo

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  2. First of all, to you, Deb, (and Colin) I'm so sorry for your loss. When things like that happen, it really makes you realize what's important in life. I'm sending you both love and hugs. x

    I definitely think we can all learn something from this post - I know I can. I shall endeavour to follow those tips from now on. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Roz--check back in with (us) and let us know specifically what worked for you.....and happy creating! xo

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  3. Oh..and the pictures are awesome Lori :) xo

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  4. Great and inspireing post indeed. I am working on the step one at the moment. I have made some plans and changed the course I was heading. My problem is that I just don't know how to say no. When people ask for help, I am usually the first one to go. So now I am going to take some distance, so that people will see that they will do fine without me being around all the time. I have told about my plans and everybody is not happy with me moving away.

    I am still looking for the key to unlock my creativity, and I have high hopes for the future (so that I will find it). My problem is not with not allowing the emptyness, it is the vastness of it. But I am tackling it too. I think. Well yes I am, on my own way. I am sure I will find out my true self one day.

    I am sorry for your loss (too) (to all). Lots of love and hugs, virtual mudcake and ice cream.

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    1. Sounds like you're off to a great start! Here's what I've learned about saying "no." Every time you say no to something that doesn't feel right to you, you not only say "yes" to yourself, you create a space for someone who IS right for the "job." At a certain point I had to learn how to get really quiet and listen for my own authentic desire when asked if I could help with something. Now when I say "yes" I do it whole-heartedly, and when I say "no" my energy goes to what it's supposed to. As to finding your "true self"--EVERYTHING about you is your true self. Just let go of the stuff that's hiding it.......good luck! xo

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    2. I couldn't have said it better myself. Yes indeed it is hiding. It's hiding behind the wall of emptyness, just out of my reach. Well I have to say out of my reach at the moment. Thank you!

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  5. Lori, your work is wonderful. I love to draw, paint, write, create to release stress and to just be calm, to think and reflect. It gives me time to cry, smile, laugh at what is going on in my life.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what you all are going through. Please know that my thoughts, prayers, and love are with you now and always.

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    1. thanks, Steph--creativity is a powerful form of emotional release and did you know that when you are actively being creative, your brain waves are the same as they are in meditation? thanks for the comment--xo

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  6. Barb & Deb--thanks so much for er--having a three way with me. (who made that expression up anyway)? It was an honor to share my own experience and if it helps free anyone else's creative spirit, than we're all better off for it, right? Barb--a special comment for you--you're right--I will demur when it comes to being considered a "mentor;" I learn every bit as much from you as you do from me. it is a connection that works on both sides and I'm thrilled I "found" you. Deb--a big hug and wave of compassion to you (and Barb, and Colin) for your loss. May you find comfort here and in your memories. You're right--there's nothing like a sudden shocking loss to remind (us all) that the best way to live life is in the moment--being aware of being in the moment......thanks again to both of you for your blog love xo

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    1. Thrilled we found each other, Lori. xoxo

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  7. Lori has so much more RANGE than I do, but I also think about it as getting out of my way. I have to relax enough to become the conduit. When I write, I get naked, get in the tub, have a glass of wine... all with the same goal. And I DO find MOVING (relaxed brain, busy body) is my best problem solving. I should probably make the time for actual meditation... I am not sure if I could, though. I don't sit still well. I can't even slow down enough to STRETCH and I KNOW I need to do that.

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    1. Hart: I am now picturing you naked, in the tub with a glass of wine and.....your computer??? ha! thanks for the laugh. Sounds like you found your own way to get in touch with your muse.....Re: the possibilities of meditating: would it help to know that almost everyone I know says the same thing about not being sure they "could" meditate? to me, that's a sure sign that you could benefit from it. Meditation is a PRACTICE of investigating all of the things that stop you from "sitting" and creating, and living your life mindfully.........xo

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  8. Beautiful pictures, Lori. You are quite talented. :)

    Deb, I am so sorry for your loss, please know that I'm praying for you all as well as your friend's family. ((hugs from Kentucky))

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  9. I am spending the day in the garden today. It is a beautiful holiday day here (Victoria Day weekend) and I have found it an extremely powerful way to get and stay in the moment. It reminds me of how "refreshing" it is to do so. Especially (as Deb says) when times are difficult. I absolutely can feel it tuning the creative strings in my brain. Can't wait to channel that into writing!

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    1. by "it", I mean the act of gardening. Of course, being in the garden can also do this, but I mean the muscular, intense, focused ACT of gardening.

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    2. Oh......thats delicious....Basking the wonderfulness of nature is the best way to get in tune with our core isn't it ?

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    3. A beautiful day here today too. I love outside. :)

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    4. there's nothing like rooting your hands in the dirt and connecting to mother nature to get a jolt of inspiration. We are ALL one--including the earth and sea and sky that we are part of, and when we connect to nature, we (re)connect to ourselves.....xo

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  10. How did it take me so long to come to this fine location in the www? Thanks to Lori, with whom I recently had my own 3-way along with Karen Arp-Sandel, I am here, now. Perfect timing. What an illuminating post Lori. And Deb and Barb, I am so sorry for your loss. I won't say more, for fear of overwhelming, but I hold you with great love today. Thank you for hosting this light beam named Lori. Your thoughts are so clear Lori. I am breathing them in today. Love, Suzi

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    1. Suzi BB and Barbara & Deb--three fantastically creative souls--I'm thrilled to be the conduit to connect you all. You will no doubt be inspired by one another many times over in the future. thank you Suzi for your beautiful comment & beautiful spirit-xo

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    2. this, in the spirit of sharing the beautiful and inspired Suzi, as well as the post I wrote about creativity and motherhood for her. http://laundrylinedivine.com/out-of-the-mouths-of-babes/lori-landau/

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    3. Suzi, it is such a pleasure to meet you! I absolutely love your blog. Thanks to Lori for connecting us!

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  11. What beautiful artwork, Lori! Wow!! :]

    Deb (and family), so sorry to hear of your loss. It sort of hit me and Holly hard. We also lost a very dear friend almost seven years ago due to a car accident. Words cannot even begin to describe what you think, feel, react, etc. You don't know how you get through each day, but you do. Will be thinking of you today. <3

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  12. I really love your work, Lori, and I'm definitely going to try your suggestions.

    So sorry to everyone affected by the loss that Deb mentioned. Big hugs to you all.

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    1. thanks, Aimee--I truly hope my suggestions inspire you and get you going....xo

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  13. Great advice today for lifelong creativity. Again, so sorry about your friend Paul.

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    1. glad you think so. thanks for the comment....xo

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  14. Oh, Deb. Another funeral. *sigh*

    {{{HUGS}}}

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  15. I loved reading this post ^-^

    and on another note i'm sorry about your friend passing and I know how it feels seeing as I just went to my friends funeral 2 days ago and the fact that just last year I had to go to 3 funerals... >_>

    All i can think to say is time heals wounds

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    1. I am so sorry, Garrett. It's never ever easy, but when it's a young person it is all the more shocking. Deep love and condolences.

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  16. Lori - thank you so much for sharing this, my daughter inherited anxiety issues from me I'm afraid. She's a new mommy with a three month old and a boyfriend who quit his job. I've urged her so many times to try yogi/meditation. I've been desperate to say the right things to her and this is just what I need to pass on. You never know when you're gonna get that perfect gift, thank you again.

    Deb (and Colin) I know you are both going through a terrible time with the loss of your dear friend and I am sorry. As you know this is how I lost my beloved Sam at age 33, a senseless car accident. I think when it happens sudden like that the grief is so much more profound but you do get through and you do feel again. It's a process and I wish I knew some way to bring you all comfort but I know the thing that helped me was just to hear I'm sorry and tell me if you need anything. So if you need anything (even just to talk) please let me know. From experience I can tell you I found that the most comfort because I needed to talk about him and was hurt even months later when people asked me how I was doing and then changed the subject because I wanted to talk about him. And if your friend Linda ever wants to talk to someone who understands please tell her about me. I'm rambling because I want so much to be of help but I hope you know it's from the heart. Cyber hugs coming your way! XOXO

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    1. Mary, thanks for sending your love and spirit through the blogosphere. Can't tell you how appreciated they are! xoxo

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    2. Mary--sounds like your daughter could use some meditation--but she obviously already has a mom who is doing everything else to help support her during this challenging time. I'm deeply grateful if anything I said here touched you, who in turn can touch your daughter--please know I'm sending both of you strength and energy to surf the waves right now xo

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    3. Mary--sounds like your daughter could use some meditation--but she obviously already has a mom who is doing everything else to help support her during this challenging time. I'm deeply grateful if anything I said here touched you, who in turn can touch your daughter--please know I'm sending both of you strength and energy to surf the waves right now xo

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    4. Thank you Lori and Barb! XOXO

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  17. Beautiful artwork Lori, and beautiful words to go with it! You inspired me to put my sketchpad in my handbag today before I went out.

    And Barb and Deb I'm so sorry that you lost a dear friend x

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    1. Samara, Lori inspired me to keep my notebook with me too! I use it not for sketches but for insta-writing. Not journal-type stuff (practice for which I get here :) ), but for little spurts of creative writing when I find myself in a waiting room or some such place. It is magical to write with no "purpose" (like getting that novel done or composing a blog). So very freeing.

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    2. Samara--SO interesting--my daughter's name is Samara, so I feel particularly happy that you wrote and told me about bringing your sketchbook along with you today......I hope you used it and felt fantastic for doing so.......xo

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    3. Wow Lori, I've never met another Samara, thankyou for sharing that! And yes I did use my sketchbook yesterday (in a waiting room actually Barb!)and it felt just like when I was an art student and would never leave the house without it. I've been caught up recently thinking that I just don't have the time to paint like I used to, so I'm really glad I read your post yesterday. Art is part of my soul and you reminded me that it's important I tap into that every day, even if it's just for a few mintutes. Thankyou x

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    4. I know, Samara is an unusual name, right? I'm thrilled that you used your sketchbook when you took it with you--I use mine in waiting rooms all the time.....xo

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  18. Lori, thanks for the lovely words. Much needed at this point. Life is funny. Kept becoming friends on Facebook with so many of you "writers" which I am not. It was not something I would normally do, friend people I have never met. But everyone that I have friended has been so entertaining to me. Or so I thought it was just entertainment. I am in the process of starting or should I say revamping my business. I learning so much from everyone. If someone is having a writers block or creative stumble, it helps me. It is a reminder to me that everyone goes through the same process. It is just so nice to get the help and the words from everyone out there. Thank you.
    Heidi

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    1. Heidi, we are all so thrilled we found you!! And you "sound" like a writer to me :)

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    2. Heidi--EVERYTHING we do is part of a creative process--not just "the arts" so never doubt that you are an artist, or a writer, or whatever you want to be. in fact, let's throw out all the labels and just BE, right? imagine how freeing THAT could feel? xo

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  19. I'm really, really sorry for your loss, Deb.

    Thinking of you and your friend's family.

    Send prayers and hugs.

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