Part of keeping a practice alive and meaningful is tending to your personal connection to it. It is essential for there to be some hidden space for things that are just between you and your practice. Inside jokes. Ah-ha moments. Lessons from struggles. Memories. Personal discoveries. We are also allowed to withhold certain parts of the process, or even entire finished projects, from being visible and consumable - or at least reduce our focus on those outcomes. I think this can actually strengthen the genuine, personal connection to creativity, by not orienting it all toward the vast external world. Some things are meant to go outward, and other things are meant to go inward, to hold dearly, to hum with below the surface, to be kept sacred.
The magic of creating art in secrecy
Making art in secrecy is something I have recently discovered. Saying that out loud is embarrassing, because it would have been helpful to discover the value in this sooner. By secrecy I just mean not super visible to any general public. I am noticing that I used to want to immediately share everything I did. This isn’t necessarily an awful thing, sharing can be joyous, but it became more of an unconscious pattern that I wasn't being intentional about, so I have been looking at that deeper.
So, I have been painting and not really showing anyone immediately, to see what that brings up. I am enjoying what it feels like to create art for my own self exploration, and finding that it reinforces the whole point about why I started painting. I can share it later, but as long as the priority is on my real reasons for engaging, it feels good. The honesty of that intention facilitates a feeling of fullness from which I can share from, instead of sharing as a way of seeking fullness. In this phase of exploration, I am learning that while of course art enjoys being shared and connected with, I don’t always have to put pressure on my creations by making it about being seen.
Where does the sense of pressure come from? For me, pressure feels like expectations. So, perhaps one way of releasing pressure is releasing expectations. I am writing this so I will hear this.
Even when the discomfort arises at the idea of not appearing a certain way on the outside, I can find contentment in knowing I am engaging with my practice meaningfully on the inside. I have big trust that the experience of quiet, ongoing creative experimentation over time can help develop a foundation fertile for discovery, growth, and embodied, unspoken understanding. That’s really what I’m after, folks.
As I keep becoming more clear about what my reasons are for engaging with creativity, I feel less impulsive to share each moment in real time, and more inclined to just be in each moment in real time. There is hidden magic in the gooey, clumsy, transformation phases in a process. And it’s ok for some experiences to be only for myself.
If you are feeling pressure in regard to expectations to expose your creative practice to all of the reactions and opinions from others, or even expectations from yourself, try just dropping that energy, and release that pressure by creating something secret, just for yourself. It is like making yourself a gift.
Orient your intention to the experience
A lot of the inspiration behind ideas I connect to creative practice come from my daily Ashtanga practice. Last year, my teacher Angela was talking about asana and she said that asana is “not something to achieve or perform, but something to experience”.
This made my ears perk up. Not only is this an extremely important reminder for connecting with the intended root purposes of yoga, but it is also a great reminder for any practice that is meant to facilitate healing. These words shine light on how I feel about the deeper purpose of creativity.
Creativity isn’t something you achieve or perform, it’s something you experience.
What happens if you just focus on the experience as it is instead of placing it in the context of a goal, achievement or performance?
If the focus is on the inner experience, and the pressure of what the experience looks like on the outside is softened, there is no longer as much of a drive to compare, no metaphorical posture to metaphorically nail, no one to impress, no one special to be. That is freeing.
Sharing can be vulnerable, so if and when you decide to share something you have created, the relationship with your own personal experience can be your anchor for emotional stability and clarity.
What about when creativity is part of your job, and the ideal orientation actually is for it to be shared?
My next post is about my experience as someone who runs an art-based small business making things with a general orientation of sharing it all, and who also has a personal creative practice for different purposes. How is practice and work separate, yet in relationship…
So much to share. Until next time,
Questions for you to ask yourself if you’d like
How does it feel to make something just for yourself?
How can you release pressure in your creative endeavors?
How does it feel to focus on your inner experience over outcomes?
What must be protected?
What are your personal conditions for feeling creative freedom?
When is it a time for sharing and when is it not?
I hope these questions spark some reflection.
Happy new moon.
♡ keep practicing ♡