The Practice of Creativity

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Affirmations-366Days#149: I engage of symbolic acts of power that support my creative life (e.g making vision boards, etc.)

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

 

As creative people, we have to take physical action in the world to pursue our dreams. I, however, also believe in utilizing symbolic acts of power. Symbolic acts of power are those that connect us to mystery, the unknown, serendipitous help and support, luck, and universal good. Symbolic acts of power can also free us from a constant focus on the mundane aspects of the creative life. Using symbolic acts of power can help boost our confidence, remain playful in the face of adversity, and develop trust in ourselves and the power of the universe. Below are the kinds of symbolic acts that I have used and also used with my coaching clients.

 

Gratitude Jar

The powerful benefits that stem from a gratitude practice are ones that science now validates and that spiritual traditions have always claimed.

gratitudejar

The idea is simple…get a big jar, write one thing you are grateful for at the end of the day (or each week) and put it in the jar.  You can use it to document every big or small good thing that relates to your creative life. The jar offers a visual touchstone of joy as you see it filling up with entries during the year. I do this at the beginning of the year and it fills me with so much joy to look back at the end of the year and remember all the special moments in my life. I am always grateful that I documented days when I had a submission accepted, or someone offered kind words on a reading I gave, or I had a day where good ideas seemed to flow endlessly.

With this approach you’re noticing all the good in your creative life (and life in general) and recording it. You can start a gratitude jar at any time.

Vision Board

Shakti Gawain, in the book, Creative Visualization (1988), coined the term ‘treasure maps’ – a way of visually representing your wishes and dreams using collage techniques. People now call them ‘vision boards’, ‘image collectors’, ‘dream maps’, ‘alchemy maps’, ‘maps for your heart’s desires’  ‘transformation collages’, etc. It really doesn’t matter what you call them. They act as a subconscious reminder (psst…, I really want to experience ‘x’ and I need your support!), energy boost, and place to focus your intention.

Here are some steps:

What is your creative vision? A dream vacation? A new job? A better relationship with your loved one? Getting published in a magazine?

Achieving your heart’s desire first starts with identifying what it is and then aligning your inner vision with the outer world.

First get clear about what you really want. You can journal and doodle ideas. Choose 2-3 ideas that come up repeatedly.

Gather any of the following: calendars, handmade specialty papers, magazines, catalogs, photographs, art supplies, beads, feathers, magic markers, fabric, glue sticks, and poster board.

Set aside time to look through your supplies: You want to gather (or draw) images that relate to your top 3 ideas. Even if you think an image doesn’t logically relate to your ideas, if it moves you—include it.

Organize your pile: There is no one way to make a ‘vision board’. Once you gather everything, it’s about inviting your Creative Self to enjoy patterns, shapes, and colors. Arrange the materials in a way that makes you happy and gets at the essence of what your categories represent to you.

Create a 40 Day Practice: To seal the deal, I recommend that you create a 40 day practice connected to your vision board. It can mean that you look at it daily and imagine how you will feel if you received what you wanted. It can mean that you write daily affirmations or positive statements about your desires. It can mean that you take daily action for 40 days related to one of your goals. Forty days is considered a powerful number for breaking habits and is a sacred number in many spiritual traditions.

Possibilities Box

I like to think of a possibilities box as a place to hold sacred dreams and intentions for one’s creative life. They are sometimes called miracle or alchemy boxes. You would usually make one of these containers at the end of a long creative stretch where you’ve done all that you can do. Maybe you’ve written that book and are stressed about how you will go about finding an agent.  The idea is that you turn your dream over to the larger universal forces and trust that that all the pieces will come together in ways that you currently can’t imagine.

Gather supplies: Just like making a vision board, you’ll need to gather some supplies.

Pick out a box: A shoe box is great, but any kind of small box will do. You can buy a box from a crafts store, if you can’t find a suitable one in your house.

You’ll want to decorate the box on the inside and out. The great thing about a possibilities box is that you get to put whatever you want inside. Think about your creative dream. What kinds of physical things that represent that dream could go into the possibilities box?

Here’s a list of what others have used to put inside the possibilities box: colorful stickers, copies of inspiring poems/writing, meaningful items from the natural world (e.g. feathers, stones, leaves, etc.), Monopoly money, coins, small toys, a special pen.

The choices of what to put inside are boundless and should spark a sense of deep play.

I hope you try one of these symbolic acts of power!

Last week, I wrote about beginning a powerful process to create a vision board. Below is Part 2:

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.If you followed previous steps, you now have roughly ten categories (i.e. health and body, finances, relationships, home, work, creative expression, travel/adventure, spiritual, possessions and special intention) that reflect what you desire.

Now, I’d like you to rank those categories from 1-10 and then choose the top 3 categories that you’d like your vision board to reflect. Why 3? Three is a manageable number when working on goals. Too many goals can dilute your focus.

Once you have your top 3 categories, you’re going to do some more writing. For each category write, ‘I intend, I choose, I have’. For example, if one of my categories is ‘possessions’ and I’d like a new car, I might write:  ‘I intend to have a new car. I choose to save money every month for my new car. I have my new car by December 2014’. Your statements can be as long or as elaborate as you like. Writing these statements provides an anchor in your subconscious that will be reinforced with the images.

Are you ready to create your vision board? I hope so!

Gather any of the following: calendars, handmade specialty papers, magazines, catalogs, photographs, art supplies, beads, feathers, magic markers, fabric, glue sticks, and poster board.

Set aside time to look through your supplies: You want to gather (or draw) images that relate to your top 3 categories. Even if you think an image doesn’t logically relate to your categories, if it moves you—include it.

Organize your pile: There is no one way to make a ‘vision board’. Once you gather everything, it’s about inviting your Creative Self to enjoy patterns, shapes, and colors. Arrange the materials in a way that makes you happy and gets at the essence of what your categories represent to you.

Create a 40 Day Practice: To seal the deal, I recommend that you create a 40 day practice connected to your vision board. It can mean that you look at it daily and imagine how you will feel if you received what you wanted. It can mean that you write daily affirmations or positive statements about your desires. It can mean that you take daily action for 40 days related to one of your goals. Forty days is considered a powerful number for breaking habits and is a sacred number in many spiritual traditions. Whatever you do for 40 days, as part of your visioning process, will yield tremendous results.

Let me know how it is going!

I made the case last week that your vision needs to wow you.  This week, I’m sharing a powerful  approach to the visioning process that gets you to your WOW. This is a process I have used in many of my creativity workshops.

Shakti Gawain, in the book, Creative Visualization (1988), coined the term ‘treasure maps’ – a way of visually representing your wishes and dreams using collage techniques. People now call them ‘vision boards’, ‘image collectors’, ‘dream maps’, ‘alchemy maps’, ‘maps for your heart’s desires’  ‘transformation collages’, etc. It really doesn’t matter what you call them. They act as a subconscious reminder (psst…, I really want to experience ‘x’ and I need your support!), energy boost, and place to focus your intention.

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

Without realizing it, I made my first vision board in college after reading Alice Walker’s amazing essay, ‘In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens’. The essay highlighted the multiple ways that African American women sustained a creative impulse even under the condition of slavery. Walker argued that creativity is not just about producing things, but is about an approach to life. After reading this, I went into a kind of reverie. I wanted to create something right then and there! I gathered magazines, greeting cards and all the colored paper I had on hand. I spent a whole evening cutting out images of African American models, writers, and intellectuals. I put a quote from the essay in the middle of the cardboard, pasted my images all around it– and there was my first vision board. That vision board didn’t focus on things per se, but how I wanted to feel by the time I graduated and how I wanted to experience my creative energies. I still have that vision board, too and the feelings it evokes still guide me today!

What is your vision? A dream vacation? A new job? A better relationship with your loved one? Achieving your heart’s desire first starts with identifying what it is and then aligning your inner vision with the outer world.

Here’s a way to start the process: Think about the following categories of your life, both what’s true for you now and what you might like to manifest within the next 2 years. Ideally, you’ll jot down a few notes under each category:

Health and Body (this includes ideas about well-being, weight loss or gain, exercise, recovery from illness, etc.)

Finances (savings, paying off of debt, money for indulgences, general abundance and prosperity)

Relationships (love, romance, partnership, marriage, children, parents, friends, relatives, neighbors, partners, co-workers and pets)

Home (where you live currently, buying, selling, renting, remodeling, moving, acquiring, roommates, decorating and designing where you live)

Work (Where you want to work, what you want to do, how much you want to be paid, the kinds of people you’d like to work with, the environment you want to work in, the rewards you’d like to receive, the amount of independence you want, your contribution to the world)

Creative expression (hobbies and passions: singing, dancing, painting, photography, cooking, gardening, healing, etc.)

Travel/Adventure (travel, sports, recreation, world exploration, new experiences of every kind)

Possessions (any and all physical objects and property that make your daily life more joyous, more pleasurable, more comfortable, more practical or more fun)

Spiritual (personal discovery, healing old wounds/forgiveness work, recovering personal power, expanding intuitive awareness, finding your life’s purpose)

Special Intention (anything not covered above)

Soon, I’ll share the next step to make your vision board truly serve you.

Between late December and most of January, there is often a lot of buzz about creating one’s vision and the visioning process. I think creating a vision can be a powerful and life affirming process.

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

But…developing a vision isn’t like choosing a new pair of socks.

What do I mean?

A vision is something that should sustain you, wow you and feed you all year. You should feel an inner sizzle throughout your body every time you think about your vision.

I find that people try working on their New Year’s vision (through creating affirmations, a treasure map, resolutions, a vision board, writing goals, a vision statement, etc.), in the midst of the holiday frenzy or right after. We’re often still pretty tired well into the first two weeks of January. Aren’t you?

Preparatory work needed prior to vision creating often gets tossed aside in the rush to ‘get something down on paper’. This means you can wind up with a vision that doesn’t really serve you and is abandoned by spring.

Here are some things that you might consider doing before you set aside time to work on your vision.

Declutter
Have you begun to declutter? Now is a perfect time to do so as you prepare to envision 2014. Let go, release, and get curious about what will fill the empty space.

Choose
What’s the one thing you’d like to work on shifting (or releasing, changing, etc.), in order to live your highest vision? Identifying one concrete thing to focus on for personal transformation is much more promising than trying to tackle a laundry list of concerns. Good questions to follow: What support do I need to make this shift a reality? And, am I willing to ask for that support, or pay for it?

Identify
Consider working in a group to develop, support and amplify your vision. When focused friendly people come together to support each other, they can produce incredible results.  Many different structures exist for creating groups: including The Artist’s Way, MasterMind and Your Heart’s Desire. All are free to start and are based on collaborative and mutually beneficial principles. You could, of course, start your own group and call it whatever you want– ‘Idea Party’, ‘Dream Tea Talks’, ‘Manifesting Circle’, etc. There’s strength in numbers!

There’s still plenty of time to envision what you want for 2014–don’t rush the process. Is there something you do to prepare for the visioning process? I’d love to hear!


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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