If anyone ever tells you they have the absolute answer to this question, you had better run! I will share with you my truth and the means for which I can fling myself wholeheartedly into my art (and life) with confidence and trust.
Have you ever seen something so beautiful or so incredible that it takes your breath away? The image above resonates so deeply with me that even though it has nothing to do with art, I had to use it in this post. The woman has her hands and arms raised above her body and resting on her head - when I saw it I FELT her take a deep breathe in appreciation. I remember that feeling oh so well, the first time I saw the October ocean swell on the pacific northwest coast. The waves crashed before me with such power and magnificence. The spray from the cold deep grey salt water filled the air and rested on my lips. Hands raised to the sky, then rested on my head. I had to catch my breath and this position helped open up my heart and lungs.
Step One: Recognize where you are.
Owning the moment is crucial to trusting and allowing the flow to happen. Actually that's a bad choice of words - happen. The flow is happening whether we are in it or not! A better word might be engulf... Owning the moment is crucial to trusting and allowing the flow to engulf us. Better, so much better. When we recognize and can label the feeling of the moment we get swept up in the fast moving current of truth. For instance, if my painting is feeling contrived or too commercial, I start to feel icky. If I choose to fight that feeling, it gets worse until I run away from it and abandon my painting. Instead, if I label my feelings of doubt, disgust, complacency, conformity and mistrust in that very moment, I RECOGNIZE where I am and I can make a choice to shift.
Step Two: Chose to shift.
Make the decision right there an then that these feelings will not consume us. Declare power over them and stir up a sense of strength and confidence in yourself. Breathe deeply and clear your mind.
Step Three: Ask for direction.
This is the mustard seed of faith that is required for change. It doesn't matter what or whom you have faith in, now is the time to muster it and ask for help. For the most part, I feel I am asking Myself; the deepest part of my soul that knows better than I do, the part that always seems to be in the flow. Some call this prayer, others meditation, I call it accessing my intuition. Now get real. Get real quiet and get real serious and ask for change. Ask for the direction to get into the flow - label where you want to be - what feelings you'd like to experience - trust, honour, reverence, awe...
Step Four: Shut up and listen!
Being quiet and non-judgy of Thyself is critical. Shush away any nay-saying ego voices that may tell you that you prefer staying stuck on the banks of the flow as it rushes past you. Shush them and listen.
Crickets? That's the first sound. Stay quiet.
Next comes a inner voice. It whispers and sounds oddly like yourself. It says something. My inner voice never sounds "profound" so I doubt it and question whether or not I made it up. Quiet again, listen.
Step Five: Hear your marching orders.
My inner voice usually gives me short, directive steps. When I'm painting, it will say something like, "STOP! Get a glass water, take a pee and come back. Look at the painting and feel the pain you are in looking at it. Cry if you must. Get over it. Pick up your brush with white paint and eliminate the part in the lower left. Take pink paint and fling it over the right. Take a scratching tool and make random marks.... ". this is how my voice talks to me. It's hardly all sweet and gentle, instead It is a drill-sergeant who wants me to get over myself and make a great inspired painting, dammit!
Step Six: Recognize that old habits die hard.
So go ahead and do what you've just been told to do. If you find yourself washed upon the shore again, watching that flow go by, recognize that old habits die hard and repeat steps 1-5 over and over again until you can't stop being in the flow because it is now a tsunami of current, (and how could you ever fight that?).
Step Seven: Put your hands on your head and breathe.
This is the part of painting, art really, that is addictive to me. When I stand back and really look at what I've created, when I followed my orders that is, I need to put my hands on my head and take a deep breath. THIS is what I am capable of. THIS is how I let go and trust myself. THIS is being IN the flow. I would love to know why one would choose anything other than these feelings?