photograph by Alexa Black
Each human has within them an inner rhythm, a pace at which they most comfortably move through their lives. This pace often varies by season, with shifts in the natural world. One of the most important aspects of my creative process is adhering to the ebbs and flows of my own energy. As a contemplative, slow-moving person by nature, navigating a fast-paced, results-oriented culture has been a bumpy ride. There was a time in my late 20s, when I pushed myself extremely hard - stretching my physical and financial resources in a frenzied rush towards an external measure of success. I had the misunderstanding that only through constant, unrelenting effort could my work in the world become manifest.
At a certain point, I decided to stop chasing carrots and to grow my own. I can't say that I have mastered this art. When bills are due and funds are low, a vice-like grip overtakes my mind and body. My chest tightens. My scope of vision narrows and my values begin to become compromised. I become exhausted once again... Leaking energy and looking outside of myself for guidance.
The myth of life being a never-ending stream of effort and expansion conveniently overlooks the foundation of all outward expression - rest, stillness, quiet, and solitude. Without night there can be no day. Without soil no seeds can grow. Both active and restorative energies are necessary aspects of creation. In Taoism, these active and receptive energies are referred to as yang and yin. Each contains a small seed of the other. They exist within each human and throughout the world in constant relationship, expanding and contracting, creating and destroying all that is.
"If there is an order to things, which by observing nature, one can most certainly say there is, then when humans align themselves with natural rhythms, their experience of life becomes less causal and more synchronistic." - Carl Jung
Working with the interplay of one's receptive and expressive energies is a dance that involves being able to feel which energy is rising and which is receding, and to have outlets for both. Receptive energy can be channeled into stillness and rest, into tending to one's body and home, and into preparing containers for creative energy to work in (cleaning the studio, prepping canvases and blank recording sessions, dusting your writing desk). Then, when the active energy rises up, it has a rested body / clear mind to move through and a container / place to do its work. Within this balanced process of creation, dreams can come to fruition in ways that are deeply nourishing to oneself and to the world.
As contemporary people, we do not live in a culture that supports rest or yin cultivation in any in-depth form. Luckily, the power to adhere to our natural rhythms is within us. When the people are rested, they are more difficult to manipulate and they are more likely to make choices from a place of centred strength. A stilled heart knows its purpose and creates from a place of power. A quiet mind facilitates this process with clarity and precision. As the buds appear on the trees and winter transitions into spring, all that is coming to be owes its form to a foundation of quiet darkness.
Re-dreaming the world into being,
One nap at a time,