Monday, 31 May 2010

Creativity, Healing and Meditation

Creativity and Healing abilities can be a lifelong journey of discovery and a step by step progressive growth over the decades. They change with age and spiritual maturity.

Creativity and healing can only happen when a person is ready, open and wants it to happen. Nobody else can make it happen. We can all receive guidance from others, from books, from inspiring people but ultimately, we are the only ones who are responsible for ourselves. We need to find new ways of communicating with ourselves on all levels.

To move forward, we need to break old patterns of thinking; even if sometimes this means going against every belief structure we have. Most of the time, we are our own worst enemies. We hold ourselves back with the amount of junk we store in our minds. We recreate and exaggerate the bad things in our minds until they eat away at us. Sometimes, we give ourselves bad advice when we should just be sitting patiently and quietly to see how things play out naturally.

Somehow, from childhood to adulthood, we forget how to be creative. Sometimes because of a lack of encouragement or because the society we live in dictates a certain type of acceptable behavioural pattern. Sometimes we are forced to believe that maturity means being serious, taking responsibilities with a certain attitude, which makes for creativity being viewed as a childish whim.

Regardless of the reasons, the truth is we forget there are limitless boundaries of infinite possibilities. We confine and limit our thoughts, which consequently imprisons us by making us believe we can no longer be whoever or whatever. One day, we wake up and feel gloomy because we are resigned to never achieving whatever it was we use to dream of.

As a consequence of this imprisonment, we eventually lose our motivation to strive for the achievement of our dreams. We doubt or ignore our capabilities and we often settle for a “second best” way of living. Given time though, as I have discovered in my many friends, in later life this sense of second best living fills us with remorse and/or a sense of resignation. Remorse eventually eats away at us and before we know it we’re ill. We’re depressed. We don’t know how to cope with the world around us and we’ve forgotten who we are and how to live.

In contrast to popular belief, children do not look to adults for help in being creative or inventing their characters. They do not consult with them over decisions about how each character should be. Instead, children are totally independent in thinking. They quite happily go off, invent and explore without consulting anyone for anything. The only thing children do is look to adults for inspiration and approval. So, why do we become so reliant on others in adulthood?

If we look at it from the principle that children only look to adults for inspiration, comfort and/or approval; when these needs are not met or when the child is ridiculed, punished or reprimanded for their creative actions, they begin to form unrealistic opinions about themselves.

Self-doubts and fears begin to set in and slowly but surely the child starts to lose his/her creative and imaginative qualities.

As the child grows older, he/she begins to depend more and more on the opinions (judgments) of others because there is no longer enough self-confidence to trust their own. After long term dependency on this reliability of others, people become slowly drained of all enthusiasm. It then follows that in adulthood people need to look to others for motivation and validation. Some may even rely on others to tell them what their goals in life should be and what path they should take.

To try and clarify what I mean, here’s a perhaps extreme but simple example: A little girl, age 4, who I will call Sara, dresses up like a princess; long dress, crown, her mother’s shoes, make-up and feathers. She runs to her parents in the living room who respond with a critical and demeaning tone: “Don’t be stupid, you will never be a princess, get that stuff off, you look ridiculous.”

In that one sentence, Sara has been given such a negative view of herself that if it is persistently repeated over a period of time she will assimilate into her own perception of herself. She will accept is as her own concept of her reality.

What happens is:

Doubt sets in. Creativity is viewed as a negative quality and so is imagination. Sara would have a low amount of self-esteem. She’s thinking, “I’m stupid, my parents told me so,” “I’m not good enough to be a princess,” which in later life translates into: “Well, as I am stupid, I am never going to learn anyway, so why should I bother” or “I’m not good enough, so why should I bother aiming high?” Motivation and drive is gone. Desire to achieve has gone and the self-belief in her own capabilities has gone.

“You look ridiculous”, in Sara’s mind could equate to thoughts of: “I am not pretty.” In later years, no matter how good she may look to others, Sara will never think she is pretty enough.

I am not saying that we should run out and blame our parents or our teachers or others who have influenced our life. I am just outlining some possible causes for loss of creativity. As adults we cannot deny our own sense of self responsibility.

We all need to learn to become more self-reliant, more self-validating and more independently minded thinkers. The beauty is that as an adult we can make our own choices based on formulated opinions from information and experiences we have accumulated. We can choose to find a lesson and the positive in negative situations. We can choose who to surround ourselves with and what influences to take on board. We can choose what to believe and what to discard.

When I was younger my grandmother who couldn’t read or write (but was very wise) said to me once: “We are all born alone and we will all die alone, so we should never have to completely rely on others for anything. You make your bed, you lie in it.” As I get older, I begin to really appreciate how true this statement is. In fact, I have taken it one step further.

I believe that alone decide what goes through our mind daily, what thoughts we choose to have and whether they are negative or positive. We alone decide what types of internal dialogues to have with ourselves every waking minute we spend with ourselves.

Over the years working in luxury hotels around the globe, I have spent a considerable amount of time studying, observing and questioning successful people and their attitudes.

By successful I mean people who have achieved their dreams in life or who are happy. The conclusions I have drawn from my quest are always the same: He who really wants something, makes time. He who desires something, does everything in his power to make the circumstances right for things to happen and he who really craves change, works every hour God sends (even for free) in order to achieve it.

There is nothing that could stand in this type of person’s way. There is no mountain too high to climb. There is no obstacle that cannot be gotten over and there is no shame in failing time and time again until. The key is belief in one’s self regardless of others.

Here’s a classic example of not using Creative energy. Three years ago, I was sat in the staff area of a hotel when a barman came in complaining bitterly about his job. He went on and on about how much he hated working in a hotel bar, how much he wanted to do something else where he could earn more. He wanted to have enough money to go on nice holidays, stay in luxury hotels, buy a better car, have a nicer apartment etc. He went on about how much he felt he was unappreciated and how he felt stuck in a rut; like life was going nowhere.

After about twenty minutes of listening to him, I enquired as to what he thought he might like to do and how he planned to do it. More to the point, I asked him if he’d thought about an alternative career and how he planned to achieve it.

I must add here that this barman is a wonderfully, talented artist who has created some beautiful pieces. Art was never something he had ever tried to pursue. Despite encouragement from his mother, in his mind his talent would never earn him money.

I asked why he didn’t consider trying to pursue an artistic career. He replied that he wasn’t good enough. He had never tried and was obviously not really interested in trying.

So, I asked whether he had ever considered further education in order to acquire more qualifications.. His reply was that he didn’t have time, he didn’t have the money, he didn’t enjoy studying and couldn’t really be bothered. He even brought his girlfriend into the conversation saying that whatever time he had available was dedicated to her.

I would just like to point out here, his working times were between 3pm and midnight (roughly) five days a weeks. He had two days off a week and every night he went to bars with his friends. I am not going to judge him but he could have made time. He could have saved enough money by not going out so often. What distinguishes this type of person from one who succeeds is the conscious decision one makes not to be like it anymore. We all have a choice and the power to decide which choices to make in life.

When we learn we are not just the bodies we live; when we realise that life is far beyond our limiting physical abilities; when we realise that we can be as infinite as the Universe and when we learn that nothing is really THAT bad that it matters that much; when we learn that we alone are responsible for ourselves; only then can we truly begin a healing and creative process that goes beyond all imagination.

The trick is to learn to take small steps at a time. As Edgar Cayce said, we need to learn to have higher ideals, we need to set ourselves realistic goals, we need to find within ourselves love, compassion and brethren towards our fellow human beings. We need to learn to respect our environment and we need to break free from moulds society would have us confined to.

We will make some wrong choices along the way but we need to learn that that is ok. We need to find the lesson in the bad choices we make. Once we have learnt that lesson, we need to accept what we did as a natural process of growth. We need to forgive ourselves and move on.

If we never made mistakes, we would never learn. If we never learnt we would never grow, and it doesn’t matter how many times we make a mistake or the same mistake. No-one is perfect. Life is not a competition and everyone learns in their own time.

As long as we are moving forward we cannot fail. Failure is only a concept created in the mind of those who expect to climb Mount Everest without ever having walked more than a mile in their lives!

If we are going to heal, we need to learn to be our best friend.

Learning to recognise a peak experience or a spiritual moment is an excellent way to begin the healing process internally. Frequent meditation can restore inner peace and harmony. It’s an indispensable part of healing and re-connecting the mind, body and soul to create balance. It also has amazing effects on Creativity.

Meditation can put everything into perspective. Meditation is an excellent means to connecting with the self and making self discoveries that have previously been suppressed or ignored. When we stand outside the issue, we can see it more clearly. It also allows us to connect with our Higher self and the Universe.

Eastern philosophies such as: Buddhism, Vedanta and others similar that advocate that education for the intellect alone is insufficient and should be accompanied by education and training for what he refers to as the “eye of contemplation;” the opening up to knowledge that goes beyond the realm of the physical, rational, categorised and explainable.

Meditation, can help us to control our minds and emotions, although it requires patience, time and dedication in order to achieve a quietness within and around the mind.

Each human being is confined and delimited by way of that which they hold in their mind. Buddhism focuses on the need for man to be in control of his own mind and not vice versa.

More specifically, it mentions the need for “attention training and cultivation of concentration”, which are considered essential to stop the mind from wandering off on its own. It suggests that a well ordered mind will be capable of controlling and nurturing emotions, at will, such as: happiness, love, compassion etc. It will, also, be able to shift emotions from negative to positive; alleviating, or even eliminating sadness, fear and anxiety.

Recognising these destructive emotions is the first step to changing them and nurturing the positive ones, with the aid of a few transcendental practices.

Qijong, Taoism and Yogic practices teach us that by recognising every moment is precious and unique, and by gratitude for “what is”, by way of inner peace, an individual can be truly happy because nothing more than this moment will matter and every new moment will be a new experience.

Venerina Conti

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