Chapter Six: Honing in on a Spiritual Practice
For some, “spirituality” may mean a daily meditation practice. For others, like famous painter Agnes Martin, it meant purging her artwork in a bonfire at the end of every year as a means of starting new, from a fresh canvas so to speak. Keep in mind that her paintings sell at auction for upwards of $800,000. And she is just one example of many.
Eventually, most artists and creatives arrive at the point where they want to embrace a lifestyle with more grace, ease and compassion. You may want to self-actualize and flourish in your career and personal space while still having time to savor the finer things in life. You may be doing everything you possibly can, but still feel that something, somewhere isn’t quite optimized. If that sounds like you, then it’s time to hone in on your spiritual practice.
Right out of the gate, I need to clarify that by spiritual I do not mean religious. What I mean is nondenominational, non-secular practices that are nonmaterial, incorporeal, intangible, inner-mental, psychological and metaphysical. Why does one need a spiritual practice? Why is this important? Why do we have to get all “woo woo”?
When you live as an independent creative entrepreneur, you are in the .0001 percent of the population. If you are of a minority (gender, race, etc.), this percentage goes down further. In other words, you are not, by definition, living in the real world. No, you are living in a world that you created. The rules don't apply to you. The status quo does not apply to you. The rules that underpin the corporate world and the larger world do not apply to you. The world is for the most part run by masculine energy with a rule set of Darwin and Machiavelli. It is not a world that welcomes possibility and and in no way welcomes or nurtures creativity.
Living in this harsh outer world whose values and truths are so different from our own is not particularly easy. We are bombarded by media, literature, shows, and the majority of the population who think, act and believe very differently than we do about the world, yet our work requires us to be in “woo woo” land in order to create something new. What we’re doing hasn't been done before, so thinking like everyone else is not a constructive or productive approach.
In order to be successful, we need to access something that is not immediately apparent. We need to believe in something that isn't there … yet. We need to be able to “see” a project before it comes to fruition.
Isn't living within in a creative contingency extremely difficult? Isn't it tough trying to thrive in a world that is so much less defined than everyone else's? Where you are judged by standards that don't apply to you and forced to have rules that don't serve you? Isn't challenging being a visionary when no one believes in you? Hell yes, that's why we're here.
Yes, that's why we need our own inner practices to help conjure the confidence and intuition to put our pants or our robe on and go to work in the morning. The main purpose of developing this practice is to combat the Nancy Negatives running the outer world who try to invade our inner world. A spiritual or psychological practice allows us to keep our noses to the grindstone and continue on when all other logic would tell us to quit.
A practice can help us access our highest purposes and separate that which is real from that which is fear and anxiety. Being our own CEOs and visionaries is no joke. It takes a mental toughness unlike any other industry. It is a fight that even Mohammed Ali would have a hard time training for. Being nonlinear in a linear world requires a special navigation system.
Maybe you are not George Lucas creating the next Star Wars. Maybe you are just an “average” creative doing video or music production or writing. Still, you need a practice that is going to keep you centered, that is going to help steady the boat amid rough seas. Your peer group can help, but your daily practices are what will take you to the next level. The level of being unf*ckablewith by any form of rejection or downward cycle. The mental acuity to keep flowing forward and refining what you are doing in a way that makes sense to you.
This takes effort and severe discipline. Just like with a routine, with spiritual discipline comes freedom. These practices can be moved right into your newly found routine, and after the first couple of weeks they will start to come naturally. Start for a solid 14 days and then stop for a few days and notice the difference. You will learn everything you need to know. Just know that this is without a doubt an inside job. It's the work that nobody sees that is the most important.
There are many methodologies that can help with this, and different techniques work for different people. Most coaches of these modalities recommend that you do these practices first thing in the morning before you start interacting with the world.
The most important thing is not necessarily when you do them but how consistently you do them. When you get busy, it's easy to let these go and after a few days of not doing them, we become susceptible to falling down the rabbit hole of real-world problems. Preventive maintenance is the cheapest. Try to commit to a minimum practice per day, no matter what, and you'll save yourself a lot of time and downward spiraling in the long run.
· VISION BOARDS
Pick one or all of these techniques and start a practice. Take notes. Try it for at least 30 days and I guarantee you'll notice a difference. I frequently attend workshops that incorporate these practices. You can even try some in your own success or mastermind teams and make them group exercises.
The important thing is to start building the internal structure. It's easy to feel that it isn't necessary when things are going well. However, when things aren't going well, we tend to run to the hills and experience dips that are much lower than they need to be. A practice will help you build inner resistance and manage what can be a very stressful lifestyle with grace, ease and knowledge. It will help you art-direct your own life, enhance your daily routine and deal with the FUs (fear and uncertainty) with confidence and ease. It will also help manage the highs and lows and prevent you from getting stuck in areas that are not meant for you.