By: Julia Cameron
The main message of my work is that creativity and spirituality are intertwined. They each support the growth of the other.
The basic tool of a creative recovery is something that I call morning pages. You’re probably familiar with them–they’re three pages of longhand morning writing that you do first thing upon awakening. They brush all of your mental dust to the center, where you can sweep it out through writing.
How to do morning pages
There’s really no wrong way to do morning pages. You write with a stream of consciousness, and your only goal is to fill those pages. What you’re really doing, in effect, is minimizing your censor, the one that tells you you’re not smart or good enough. I call my censor Nigel. With morning pages, you have the ability to just say, “Nigel, thank you for sharing your opinion. But I’m going to keep right on writing.” This ability to move past your censor is a portable skill that you can bring with you every time you move into creativity.
The creativity myth
I think people are afraid of being “too big for their britches”. We have a spirituality-creativity myth that is sort of punitive–it’s a nice day in paradise, Eve reaches for the apple, she hands it to Adam (who is a hopeless codependent). He takes a bite and the clouds spring open, and a mighty voice says, “You two won’t even get along anymore. You’ll bear your children in pain and suffering.” From this story, we learn that if we try to reach for something that seems a little beyond our reach, if we try to expand ourselves, we are in danger of being punished.
But what if we had a different creativity myth? What if, when Eve reached for the apple, the voice from the clouds said, “Far out! I made that apple red for a reason!”
If we had a creativity myth that said we would be rewarded and supported for reaching, it would be a lot different. So what we try to do with the Artist’s Way tools is to learn to be in touch with a benevolent higher force.
Courage in creativity
The fruits of creative endeavor are many: a sense of well being, a sense of guidance, and the act of creativity in itself is a wonderful healing balm. There is no magic wand we can wave to become suddenly fearlessly creative, but the tools I teach, over time, create courage.
Three creative tools
There are three simple tools that, when used in conjunction, create a powerful spiritual awakening: morning pages, an artist date, which is a once-weekly solo expedition to do something that enchants or interests you, and walking. Morning pages are sending, artist dates are receiving. It’s like you’re building a radio kit. When you walk, you integrate the insights from the other two tools.
People actually struggle with the idea of artist dates. We have no problem with work–we’re in America! We have a work ethic! But we have a problem with play. Don’t confuse spirituality with seriousness. The tools I teach are playful and joyful.
Opening yourself to wonder
When we do morning pages, we’re ventilating to the universe. We’re saying, “This is what I like, this is what I don’t like. This is what I want more of, this is what I want less of.” We learn to tap into our true feelings and become more authentic.
As you write, you are setting yourself up for wonder. I recommend picking up a pen and starting with morning pages, no matter where you are in your current growth.
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Author: Julie Cameron
Julia Cameron has been an active artist for over four decades. She is the author of more than forty books, including such bestselling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film and television. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of The Artist’s Way, with over five million copies sold.
By Lucia Whalen
The word “spirituality” means different things for different people. For some, spirituality is associated with religion and is tied to concrete rites and rituals. For others, meaningful activities like swimming, making art, and walking through the woods brings on a spiritual experience. For the most part, though, the word spirituality has become as ambiguous and vague as the word “the,” and is often stigmatized by associations to “hippy-dippy” new-age philosophies, patchouli, dreadlocks, and yoga pants.
Spirituality seems to have become confused with religion, as it is common to now associate as “spiritual” or “not spiritual”. However, at its core, spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and is not an ideology to believe or not believe in. Spirituality is, in fact, what gives life a sense of meaning and purpose.
Practicing spirituality has scientifically-validated benefits, making it important for each and every person, not just yogis in the Himalayas. If you find yourself skeptical about the necessity of spirituality, check out these 10 reasons why spirituality matters for the average Jo(sephine):
1. Be Present
The spiritual life is based in the present moment, as the present moment is the only real moment; the past and future are concepts in the mind. When living with our minds in the present moment, we function with greater focus, clarity, and spontaneity. We also feel greater levels of joy, as happiness is only accessible in the here and now.
2. Get Smart
Studies show that many spiritual practices, especially meditation, result in increased grey matter area in the brain. Among its many benefits, regular meditation leads to increased cognition, improved focus, attention, and ability to perform under stress, and higher levels of emotional intelligence, all of which contribute to enhanced work performance.
3. Be Healthy
Most spiritual paths and religious traditions recommend abstaining from behaviors and substances that are detrimental to health, such as drinking, smoking, using drugs, committing crimes, and harming others. Many paths, such as Ayurveda and Buddhism, even make dietary recommendations, which can lead to a lower body weight and lessened risk for chronic health problems.
4. Let Go of Grudges
A basic tenet of most spiritual paths and traditions is forgiveness. When we forgive ourselves and others, we are able to let go of blame, negative feelings, and anything else holding us back from moving forward in our lives. In fact, studies now show the positive health benefits of forgiveness, which include lowered risk of heart attack, lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced levels of pain, depression, anxiety, and stress.
5. Bounce Back Faster
Studies show that people who feel a sense of spirituality have greater resilience to hardships. Those with a spiritual outlook have an easier time moving through challenges by finding meaning in difficult situations. High resiliency is also a trait associated with the most successful people in the world.
6. Make Better Decisions
Decision-making is an area that many people struggle with. By simply identifying a set of values that we feel aligned with, we can make decisions that help us feel connected to the greater whole and with a sense of purpose. Spiritual paths also tend to support the development of faith and trust, which helps with stress-reduction in times of uncertain decision-making.
7. Enjoy Amazing Relationships
Research in social science demonstrates that humans are neuroscientifically hardwired for connection, and that connection is what brings meaning to life. Interconnectedness, which is at the core of spirituality, helps us to recognize the shared human experience and feel compassion for others. And when we feel compassion, we enjoy the company of others more and find it easier to find common ground.
8. Release Stress and Anxiety
When we feel a sense of connection to a higher power, we experience mental and emotional freedom. Personal spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, running, gardening, and other meaningful activities, are all correlated with lower levels of stress and tension.
9. Enhance Creativity
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind.” Many of the great artists in history attribute their creations to a higher power. When we are relaxed and in the present moment we can more easily experience the state of flow, which leads to more spontaneous ideas and greater levels of creativity.
10. Be Happily Alone
In our modern day culture, it is all too easy to never be alone. If you walk into any restaurant or cafe and look for the people sitting by themselves, chances are they will be absentmindedly eating their food while scrolling through Instagram and sending snapchats to people in other locations. People in this day and age find it difficult and even painful to be alone, both metaphorically and physically. However, when armed with spirituality, being alone is a gift, offering an opportunity to look inward and know oneself. Because, as almost all spiritual traditions teach, our Self is all we truly have. Spirituality teaches us how to ENJOY being alone, so that we can truly enjoy being with others.
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Have you ever eaten your way to the bottom of a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips only to find yourself feeling unsatisfied? Have you ever dug into to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, only to find yourself still craving something that’s missing?
Welcome to the American diet. In our country, we attempt to use food, especially sweet and salty food, for comfort, yet find true satisfaction lacking. Ayurveda, the “Science of Life,” tells us that salt and sugar are only two of the six tastes the body needs to maintain optimum health and feel truly satisfied after meals.
Ayurveda holds that there are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. For optimum health, we need to taste them all, everyday. Each one has a specific energetic effect on the body. They can warm us up or cool us down. They can make us feel complacent or motivated. Taken together, the six tastes can lead body and mind into perfect balance and create a sense of real satisfaction.
Sweet and salty may work well to instantly allay the anxiety (excess vata) that comes with 24/7 multitasking. But eating only these tastes — and in poor quality, to boot — has dire consequences for physical and mental health.
Mixing It Up
Getting all six tastes doesn’t mean creating equality in volume: a little salt goes a long way. Nor does it mean having a six-course meal at every sitting. “Keep it simple,” recommends Patti Garland, a master Ayurvedic chef and owner of Bliss Kitchen in Palm Desert, California. “Eat leafy green vegetables every day, and drink a lassi. Play around with spices — turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel will expand your palate instantly. Add quick-cooking lentils, split mung beans or red lentils to your diet. Have a whole grain. Put it all together in a bowl, or serve it in individual dishes in one sitting or over the course of a day. Try to have your big meal at lunch, when digestion is strongest.”
And whatever you’re eating, pay attention. If you’re craving a food, ask yourself what it is you really want. Craving can come out of habit, or it can be telling you about something your body needs — which may not be food. You could really be craving love and connection.
Once you find a bit of balance, your own intuition will guide you to the right choices. Ayurveda is about conscious eating and true satisfaction.
Stress and Craving: