Creative Living Beyond Fear
We start the session with reading Elizabeth’s Gilbert letter “dearest fear” from Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear.
Fear: ” I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But, above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
The inner critic/ negative voice in our heads
- We often spend a lot of time fighting or ignoring the negative voices in our heads
- This is exhausting and uses up energy we could use elsewhere
- This voice has developed over time when we were younger to keep us safe. You can think of this an adaptive child, playing at being an adult. Very black and white, very perfectionist.
- It has developed out of a fear and though it may feel large its only a small part of us We offer up the challenge/experiement to try & be curious with this part of us – let it talk. Once its spoken offer it compassion, soothing
- You can read more of this in Sharon Salzberg’s teaching around the way that she’s given her inner critic a name and likes to offer her a blanket and cup of tea when she’s getting louder.
- finish on the idea that our invitation is to reflect on our relationship with our inner critic – looping back to the challenge / experiment.
Stilling body & breathing…
- Sit comfortably in a chair, legs uncrossed, back against the chair back, feet flat on floor, hands resting in a cup-like position on the lap, or on the knees
- Let your eyes gently close….
- Breathe slowly in and out, in and out…
- Now begin to listen to sounds outside this room…….
- Now listen to the sounds inside this room……
- Now listen to yourself….
- Notice the way your breath enters and leaves your body…….
- Concentrate on the tip of your nose and feel your breath go in and out, in and out…..
- Now feel the touch of your clothes on your back….
- Feel how hard your chair is underneath you……..
- Feel your feet touching the soles of your shoes…..
- Slowly go round your body and be aware of your chest…your head… your neck….your face….
- Now come back to your breath going in and out, in and out…….
Imagine you are on a journey, you are driving along the east coast of Scotland on a hot summers day. Driving through a small village, you find yourself drawn by the sea & park the car beside a small stone church, grabbing your rucksack you wander along a path to the cliff edge, gazing at the blue sky merging into the sea below. Taking a deep breath your nose is filled with the scent of sea and freshly cut grass from the graveyard behind you. The cliff path winds steeply down to the beach in hairpin bends and as you tread carefully over the packed red earth and loose stones you find yourself stopping to listen to the insects in the scrub & flowers along the path, your eyes drawn to the sea sparkling below. At the end of the path you take off your shoes, smiling at the feel of sand between your toes, walking barefoot to the waters age you take in another deep breath of sea air. Your breath slows with the waves and you turn slowly taking in the steep path and rock formations along the beaches edge.
As your eyes wander the length of the cliff & are drawn to a patch darker than its surrounds. Wondering if it’s a cave you splash along in the shallow water to look closer. It is a cave & putting on a head torch from your rucksack you stride into the cave enjoying the change in heat below your feet and the contrasting cool air on your body. You become aware of two voices echoing in the darkness, one whimpering and another cross, surprised you head further towards the back of the cave and find two children. The crying is coming from a toddler who is clutching a bleeding foot, sobbing and asking not to be left alone in the dark. The louder, crosser voice is from a small child, perhaps around early school age, telling the wee one to pull themselves together, to grow up, they have to leave to get help. As they spot you they go quiet apart from a gentle but heart wrenching sniffing. Glad of your bag you pull out two blankets and something to eat which small hands grab greedily. Quietly you wrap up the children, clean the cut, which is small and put on a plaster. Then scooping the toddler into your arms and taking the young child’s hand, you reassure them, “you’re both safe, I’ve got you, its ok now, lets get you back to the beach.” The food, first aid, blankets and a reliable adult seem to have calmed the discord and the cave is pleasantly quiet as you leave, all you hear is breathing and a steady drip of water down the damp sides of the cave walls. As you turn to the light your torch catches something sparkling at the back and you pause in wonder, this hidden treasure diverting you for a few quiet moments… A tug on your hand brings you back to the present and you head steadily towards the light, the beach & the waves getting louder and the sand warmer as you step steadily nearer the sun.
At the entrance the small child drops the blanket running off towards a family group, you look down at the sleeping toddler in your arms, worn out by the events of the morning, gently placing it in sight of the group and its sibling, nestled in the blankets. You walk away towards the water. Dropping your bag you step into the waiting waves enjoying the sensation of heat on your skin and cold on your feet. You take deep, slow breaths with the waves, breathing in as the water washes over you and out as the waves head back to sea. In and out, in and out. Slowly you walk back to your bag, then along the beach to your shoes, picking up the empty blankets as you go, smiling at the children laughing with their friends and family. Reluctantly you climb back up the steep cliff path, stopping to catch your breath & watch the people on the beach, the sun on the water, enjoying the peace. Before long you are back at the cliff top, tired and sandy but ready to carry on. You start the car and continue your journey…
When you are ready slowly open your eyes. Let your thoughts gather and consider any images or words that came to mind.
Creative response – drawing or journaling
- what images or thoughts come up for you?
- I’d like to invite you to create something in response – a collection of words, an image or collage?
Take time to sit and look at what you’ve created, perhaps turning it around to view it from different angles. You could use a couple of the questions below.
- How do you feel about your creation?
- How did you feel as you made it?
- What was your approach? (Spontaneous, considered, impulsive)
- Do the materials have any meaning for you? (colour, size, texture)
- How did you make the marks? (Carefully, accidently, boldly?)
- Where have you placed each element?
- Is it finished?
- How do you feel about the unused spaces or accidental marks?
- Are you part of your creation?
- Are you surprised by anything?
- Is there anything you want to say about it?
Invitation to try something out in the next month:
- Where can I show myself some compassion & kindness – it might be:
- a responsive drawing
- a guided meditation, being aware of what is happening in your mind and body
- a mindful walk, noticing deeply what you can see, hear, feel.
Closing with poem “Guest House” by Rumi
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the sham, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.