Thought Precedes and Creates Change

kung fu

To create means to take what is and make something new or different. We learn how to take raw materials—canvas, pigment, paint, brushes, pencils, paper, clay, dirt, stones, glass, water, seeds, food, technology, fire, even pressure; and most important of all, our thoughts—and create. We create art and music, tools and technology, community and communities, fun and fitness, first with our thoughts and then with things. In all instances, we as creators have to either allow or facilitate the changes that make what is into something different.

There is one thing that interferes with change, though. Resistance. Others resist our desires. We resist theirs, because _________ (fill in the blank). Things that are big—like a tree or a building—resist our efforts to move or change them (until we think of a way to make the big things smaller and easier to manage). We’re accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for the person or thing that’s behaving like an obstacle when resistance interferes with our plans. Often, however, we’re actually getting in our own way with our own split energy. This happens when we direct some of our energy toward a desired outcome while also expending energy to resist very changes we want to make. Mental resistance, while it has no size or weight, because it consists entirely of thoughts (which can’t even be seen), is the BIGGEST reason we don’t get what we want in life.

I watched Kung Fu starring David Carradine when it was on TV in the 1970s. That was my first exposure to the fascinating world of martial arts and Eastern philosophies. I enjoyed watching Caine, as he was known in the series, demonstrate the power of non-resistance. Every episode had a fight scene and when Caine was threatened, he practiced non-resistance. I don’t mean that he let himself be attacked. But when the person came at him, Caine deflected the attack or stepped aside and allowed the attacker’s momentum to carry him until he stumbled and fell, sometimes over a cliff. In every instance, it was the attackers’ behaviors that caused their own self-undoing.

The Kung Fu philosophy is grounded in the Tao, meaning “the way, or the path,” and that means simply living in harmony with nature, other people, and within oneself. While living with nature and others is important, it’s the relationship to self that forms the foundation for everything that follows. And thinking anything that goes against yourself and splits your energy will make it more difficult to create whatever it is that you desire to create: artwork, a fit body, healthy relationships, etc.

Everyone is a creator, because thoughts turn to things. If you really want to create a painting, you’ll think about it and do what you need to do. If you want to be a better painter, you’ll think about what you need to do and then do it. If you want to be more fit, you have to start where you are, think about what you want to do, and then do it. If you don’t let your thoughts get in your way, you’ll succeed. It’s hard to ignore the truth that “thoughts turn to things.” But if you doubt that’s true, look around you. How did you get to where you are? Did you have thoughts and did you’re thoughts become actions or beliefs that you live with now?

To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance.  —Master Po in Kung Fu

What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.  —Carl Jung

 

Emotions Reveal Your Focus

full moon

The moon is full today in the sign of Capricorn and reflecting the light from the sun that has been traveling through the sign of Cancer since the Summer Solstice on June 21. There are lots of stories and legends about the effects of the moon cycle, especially the full moon, on humans. Most of these stories feature words like “moody,” “loony,” or “lunatic.” All of these words imply some kind of unconscious reaction—feeling emotion—to living life. They describe moods.

Moods are always triggered by some event—a chance meeting, a conversation, a song, a memory, etc., which could be anywhere on the emotional spectrum from joyful and happy to sad and lonely.  When a thought triggers an emotion, other thoughts will quickly join with the first thought and in no time at all, a mood develops. Often, the mood is familiar because we’ve “been there, done that” lots of times before. And the mood plays on and on because we get stuck in its familiar vibrational groove. It’s a set point.

Moods are indicators of emotional set points. They’re always the result of one thought leading to another to another until the brain is hijacked. Now, this isn’t a problem if the familiar mood is joy or happiness. But if you’re feelings fall on the other end of the spectrum, and you feel angry, sad, depressed, lonely, or afraid, do everything you can to get out of that vibrational mood.

Power Play

Change your focus ASAP!! Silently count down from 17 to 0 five or ten times, or until the disruptive thoughts fade. Why 17? That’s how long it takes for one thought to attract another thought. So interrupt the thoughts before they can accumulate and trigger a mood. Once the disruptive thoughts start to fade, and they will, DON’T try to recall them. Move on and have a better day.

Power Play: Share Your Expertise

New Greens_Dodge_5-7

Are you waiting to be ready before you share what you know? We humans often think that we’re not ready to share what we know or what we do, because someone else does it better and, well, we’re not quite good enough “yet.” That kind of thinking is the result of comparing yourself to others. And since thoughts are what create beliefs, if you think you’re not good enough yet, well then you don’t believe that you are.

I’m a student in a studio class that’s offered by a man who routinely gets paid $15,000, and often more, for his paintings. He does beautiful work. He’s also a great teacher, and every week he shares his expertise with me and his other students. I will never paint like my teacher paints, because I’m me. I’m different. My hand is different. I hold my brushes different. My brush strokes are different. My eyes see color differently. I choose different subjects to paint. It’s my very differences that make me uniquely different from my teacher.

You’re unique, too. So don’t compare. Share. Share what’s unique about you, because you’re the expert. Never mind what you are not. Decide on what you want and stay focused there on yourself and your flow.

Ready, Set, Go…Well, Maybe

The success of any creative effort depends on your expectations and how ready you are to do what you want to do.

What are your expectations for yourself? For the outcome of your effort? How prepared are you to meet your expectations?

Playbook strategy

There’s often a gap between where you are and where you want to be, what you can do and what you want to do. In other words, you may not be ready to do what you want to do. But don’t let that gap stop you. Just start where you are now. Ready, set, go!

 

 

 

Daily Practice is Fun!

Day 2

I joined artist Mary Glikerson’s 5-day challenge last week, and finished five quick studies (see here) for the challenge. The challenge was to paint for a set amount of time—20 to 40 minutes—and to stop when time was up. The intention: start a daily practice. All my studies took 40 minutes, but I plan to keep trying to get closer to 20 minutes.

It was a fun challenge, and it caused me to remember things I’d learned before and discover new things, combine objects in different ways to solve problems, test my skills with mixing and placement of color, and so much more. The work strengthened my creativity muscles, too.

It’s a New Year

jan-1

“Hope” 8×6″ oil on linen panel.

Updated January 10, 2018. Last year began well, but health problems surfaced in April that caused me to put painting and many other things on the back burner for the rest of the year. I’m just now starting to engage in many things I had to set aside during those months.

The painting “Hope” (above) was part of a personal challenge I started on January 1, 2017. I planned to finish 30 small plein air (painting on location) paintings in 30 days. The temperature that day was 35 degrees and it was sunny. But the highs in the near-future forecast were closer to 5 degrees. Burr! I started anyway, because I had set a goal and I felt hopeful about the future. I did adjust my plan a bit (because of cold weather) and worked on some paintings in my studio.

I might not have finished the challenge without a strategy that included asking my friend Karen, who is a personal coach, to help me be accountable. I arranged to send her a photo of each day’s painting, and I agreed that unless I broke a leg (or something equally awful happened), I would schedule a coaching session to talk about “why I was slacking off” if I missed more than two days in a row. Having that accountability helped me finish the challenge.

Think about what you want to accomplish this year. Then create a plan that includes a strategy for how you will be accountable, because these two things will help you reach you goals.

Paintings I completed for the January 2017 challenge can be seen here.