“With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity. This book links creativity to spirituality by showing how to connect with the creative energies of the universe, and has, in the four years since its publication, spawned a remarkable number of support groups for artists dedicated to practicing the exercises it contains.” — Amazon.com review
What is The Artist’s Way?
The Artist’s Way is a “spiritual path, initiated and practiced through creativity.” There is talk of God. If your mind just snapped shut (I get it – mine used to), consider this:
Think of a spiritual quest as an exercise in open-mindedness. Might there be something more powerful than you are that can help you free your creativity? You can call it anything you want. The author even suggests the term “spiritual electricity.” It’s important not to get into a war of semantics.
Still with me?
Here are the basic principles:
- Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is pure creative energy.
- There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life, including ourselves.
- When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
- We are creations. And we are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
- Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using it is our gift back to God.
- The refusal to be creative is self-will and counter to our true nature.
- When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to flow.
- As we open our creative channel, gentle but powerful changes can be expected.
- It is safe to open up to greater and greater creativity.
- Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams we move toward our divinity.
So, I get to tackle the blocks to my creativity, free myself to be creative so I can live the life I dream of (even if I’m not clear about what that is yet), and become closer to the divine within me in the process? I’m in!
The First Lesson
I’m late to the group – it started two weeks ago, yet I only discovered the class yesterday. So my first lesson, before I even opened the book was to accept that it’s okay to do this less than perfectly.
My yoga instructor is opening up yoga chakras that correlate with where we are in the book. So we begin each two-hour session with about 15 minutes of yoga. I’m new to all this chakra stuff, but I suspect I’ll have some blog topics later. Yoga is not part the book, it’s just a cool benefit of the group I’ve joined.
I went back and forth on breaking my anonymity. This isn’t a 12-step group after all. Yet, as we went around the circle making introductions, I found myself saying,
“I haven’t thought of myself as creative, but I realized that if the things I did to obtain and hide my prescription drug addiction and drinking weren’t creative, I don’t know what is.”
The women laughed. They applauded. My inner self that had turned into a quivering jello-like blob of fear solidified into strength. Yes, this environment is safe – I can grow here.
There are three basic tools that are constants throughout this journey: morning pages, artist’s dates, and the contract. Contract? It’s not bad at all, please keep reading.
- Morning Pages – I am to write three pages in longhand every morning. It doesn’t matter what I write. Just write. Apparently I’ll be sending my hopes, dreams, satisfactions, grocery list, anything really, out there to the universe and becoming aware of them myself. Three pages seems like a lot.
- Artist’s Date – Once a week, I make a date with my artist – me. My date is where I open myself to guidance, inspiration, and insight. It’s a play date with myself for at least a couple of hours and no one else can come with me. It’s me time.
- The Contract – My commitment to the process.
I, _____________, understand that I am undertaking an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve-week duration of the course.
I, _____________, commit to weekly reading, daily morning pages, regular artist’s dates, and the fulfillment of each week’s tasks.
I, _____________, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I, _______________, commit myself to excellent self-care, including adequate sleep,diet, exercise, and pampering for the duration of the course.
Oh joy! The possibility of dealing with more issues and emotions.
Recovering a Sense of Safety
The reception of my introduction jump started my sense of safety. The group I’m in is safe. But what is blocking me?
I suspect that I am a shadow artist. I want to write books, yet I make my living as a freelance technical writer. It pays well, and it’s safe. I document software, create online help, and bury my creativity under my Type-A personality traits. My artist is a child, long ago forgotten and neglected.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pearce
Core negative beliefs keep me scared. My biggest one – I’ll make a fool of myself. Affirmations counter these negative beliefs and create a sense of safety and hope. Affirmations? That feels hokey to me. I’m supposed to tell myself things like, “I have the talent to write books?” How is that supposed to help? How lame! My subconscious, the bastard, is already kicking up some nasty rotten things. So, I write them down and play detective. Where in the hell were the negatives coming from? Whose voice did I hear? As an adult, I can refute the things I was told as a child, particularly by one malevolent third grade teacher.
Each chapter concludes with written exercises. I’m tempted to just think them in my head, but I’ll write them down.
Come back next week for the second installment – Recovering a Sense of Identity. I’ll let you know what writing those morning pages is like.
This is a 12-part series on my The Artist’s Way experience. I’ll link to each post below as I complete each lesson.
The Artist’s Way – 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety
The Artist’s Way – 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity
The Artist’s Way – 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
The Artist’s Way – 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity
The Artist’s Way – 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility
The Artist’s Way – 6: Recovering a Sense of Abundance
The Artist’s Way – 7: Recovering a Sense of Connection
The Artist’s Way – 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength
The Artist’s Way – 9: Recovering a Sense of Compassion
The Artist’s Way – 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
The Artist’s Way – 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy
The Artist’s Way – 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith
Source: all quoted material is from The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julie Cameron.