Sunday, February 21, 2016

Step Aside


Meh Face, cartoon sketch Jude Spacks '16
I asked a friend how her writing had been going. She shrugged and made a meh sound. The light glinted off the silver typewriter necklace she usually wears.

"I just can't force it anymore," she said.

"That sounds like good news!" I said, feeling vicarious relief.

She went on, "But the other day I saw this cloth I've been wanting to make curtains out of forever, and before I knew it, I'd started working on them." She brightened. "I'd forgotten how much I like touching fabric and ironing seams. I was so into it! I thought doing that might somehow help my writing flow more. But maybe I'm kidding myself--I'm probably just justifying my procrastination." She deflated a bit.

"I don't know," I said. "Resistance might also look like judging a movement of real creative inspiration by calling it procrastination." 

"That's true," she said. "It felt right at the time, but then my head likes to second-guess everything." 

"Most heads do," I agreed.

Seeing the Handwriting on the Floor, markers+digital, Jude Spacks '16
When is it a good idea to step aside from your important work, and follow a tug in another, probably less exalted, direction? How can you tell if you're indulging a procrasto-habit of scattering your attention, avoiding whatever you're truly called to devote yourself to? 

Never mind that for now. Aren't you tired of wondering whether you're doing the right thing the right way? It takes a lot of juice to run that background monitoring program in the brain which identifies us with what we do, keeping tabs on our imaginary bank accounts of gold stars and demerits with extra brownie points for effort.  

Refresh those poor synapses that have been laboring in the mucky ditches of old neuropathways, trying so hard to earn your keep. Take a pause, redirect, reboot. Anytime, anyway you dive back into Here-Now, you serve your own true-loving, mysterious, zig-zagging, roller-coastering Creative Process.
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Truth and Dare coaching invites the liberating laughter
of seeing through scary mind-made illusions
to the reality of your own brilliance in action.
As stale thinking clears, the stress of trying to control the uncontrollable evaporates.  
You reconnect with your own renewable resources of presence, wisdom and confidence. 
Your realistic graceful solutions occur to you.
You find yourself walking with a lighter step 
along the unique path that feels right for you now--
exactly as you already are, before you've got it all figured out.
  
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Here's another post on freedom from forcing it: A Theory 
And an article on finding real discipline for sticking with your work: Dogged Dedication 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tidy Mind

If you come across something that does not spark joy
but that you just can't bring yourself to throw away,
stop a moment and ask yourself, 'Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?'
Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Since taking a ride on Marie Kondo's tidy-magic bandwagon, I've been feeling tender and open as I let go of things which I had been keeping 'in case'. It's turning out to be quite the practical practice of trusting the present moment, where I actually live. 


'Just In Case' drawing (markers) by Jude Spacks


As Kondo-san says, attachment to the past can make decisions murky. But what is this 'past' I find myself clutching on to, related to some forsaken item? A memory, an outdated plan, a storyline, a shifting mental position which reality has already left behind. 


'Attaching to Past Thought' cartoon by Jude Spacks

"The worst thing that can happen is a thought."--Byron Katie
Fear for the future happens in the imagination, too, like the past does. It is an uncomfortable current thought-form, no matter how valid its predictions. 

Future-fear seems to be trying to protect me from experiencing thought-feelings that might or might not show up in reaction to things that may or may not occur. I doubt it helps much to prepare for what may actually happen later on–I'm more likely to be resourceful in the unknown future moment if I'm not weighted with anticipatory worry. 


'Thinking Future Thought Now' cartoon by Jude Spacks


Trying to make the 'right' decisions now to keep myself from thinking unhappy thoughts later is a tense, defensive way to live. It's a neat, self-fulfilling, often unconscious, theory that if I do the 'right' thing I get to feel good, but if I make a mistake, I'll have to feel bad.

'Fear of Future Thought' drawing (markers and digital) by Jude Spacks

Do thoughts (and the feelings they bring) really play by these rules? 




For instance, sometimes I see with hindsight that I made a regrettable choice and yet still feel just fine, knowing I did the best I could at the time. Sometimes I give myself a hard time with no justification whatsoever from 'mistakes'. Things happen that aren't what I imagined I wanted and I may still enjoy a clear, open, grateful mind about them–or, not. 

'JoySpark Thought?' cartoon by Jude Spacks

Thought-feelings will come and go, including thoughts that call choices good or bad. Thoughts take available evidence about circumstances and spin it however they do, and, so what? Why take them so seriously? Keep what sparks joy, for now.

“I think 99 times and find nothing.
I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”
--Albert Einstein

'Blue Thought' cartoon by Jude Spacks



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Want to have a happier relationship with your own thinking?
Check out whether a coaching conversation might be just-right support
for reconnecting with your own wisdom and commonsense.
 ______________________________________________________

Here's another post on liberation from self-government by Bogus Thought Laws: 
Woman Stops Braining Herself With Carrot Stick
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Innocence


What are you expecting of yourself and others? Wondering how it's all going to turn out?
Want a reading about that, based on the wisdom of the I Ching Book of Changes?
  • Jot down a topic you're curious about. 
  • Pick a number between 1 and 6.
Read the post below, +/or scroll down to the end to see the reading that corresponds with your number.

circular picture in fabrics
Innocence Mandala, fabrics, by Jude Spacks

I am always very happy to see Hexagram 25, Innocence (The Unexpected) show up in an I Ching reading. It points me back to the wholesome satisfaction of doing things for their own sake, without conniving about outcomes. The I Ching calls this "supreme success": to move into action from a mind that is "natural and true, unshadowed by ulterior designs" (I Ching Book of Changes, Wilhelm/Baynes trans). 



It also reminds me that if I'm trying to force things to work out in my favor, it's likely that nothing much will work out at all—it would be better not to undertake anything with that kind of defensive, pressured mindset. Likewise, if I come from a slapdash self-indulgent mood which is the flip side of pressure-head, I won't connect with the genuine ease and sureness of innocence.

This inherent, mature innocence is not naive or impulsive. It is a state of openness to the movement of the unpredictable. Innocence orients us to the present-moment flow of creative inspiration.



When we're not expecting an outcome or projecting our own mental state outwards onto circumstances, we're fully available to the present. In the undefended mind of innocence, there are no foregone conclusions. We are at home with the fact that we don't know what will happen later, and we go about our business, naturally harmonizing with what is happening now. It feels right. 

But sometimes the innocence of residing in one's center without expectation of results seems vulnerable and risky. We might think we must throw ourselves outwards into efforts to manipulate externals through expecting and projecting.  

Expectations can give an illusion of egoic control. "I expect you to finish this immediately!" has a nice tough sound to it. Like, "I'll hold my breath till my face turns blue!" Maybe sometimes it works to force things to bend to your will.

But if I'm depending on getting my way to feel ok, I've outsourced my happiness, which is not a position of real power. When I expect others (or myself) to conform to my wishes, I set myself up for resentment: disappointment laced with blame.  

The Courage of No-Defense, digital artwork by Jude Spacks

If we give up the willful control of expecting/projecting, what will be left? Will we just sink down into lazy lumps and never get anything done?

It might be worth questioning the notion that we're programed with a lazy-lump default we must constantly labor to override. Basically that assumes we are guilty of indolence until proven innocent, again and again.

The innocence of going with the flow doesn't mean the flow always goes where we'd like it to. It means that we're able to respond to unfolding reality with full access to our natural intelligence in the moment, unclouded by a struggle to force externals to match our projections and preferences.

 

What if we already have the natural curiosity, ingenuity, stamina, perseverance and all the other qualities we need to accomplish what can really be useful to us and the Whole?

People in touch with their original state of innocence are "rich in virtue and in harmony with the time, [and can] foster and nourish all beings" (I Ching Book of Changes, Wilhelm/Baynes trans).  



 
 
  
Questions for Reflection

Consider the 12 Step slogan "Expectations are premeditated resentments."
  • Where might you be expecting things of others or yourself that set you up for resentment and dissatisfaction? 
  • Scan your current plans. Are you depending on some outcome? How does that feel? Is it nourishing to you and to others?
  • What, specifically, might you be expecting of yourself today? What would it be like to drop that expectation, to see it as only a passing thought-form?
  • What would it be like to enter your next activity wholeheartedly, just to do it, without concerning yourself with evaluating how you're doing or what comes next?



Want a reading about innocence and expectations in some area of your life?  
So, did you think of a topic related to this that you're curious about?  
And did you pick a number between 1 and 6?
Now, read the message below corresponding to your number. 
(Or, read them all and see which resonate for you). 
Keeping an open mind, do you see how these pointers might apply to your situation?
  1. Follow the original impulse of your good heart with confidence. Remain detached about outcomes, making no plans to influence what might happen. Everything will work out for the best for all concerned.
  2. Keep doing every task for its own sake, in a flexible way appropriate to the time and place. Don't divert attention into speculation or planning about possible results. As you keep your eyes on the needs of the moment and the task right at hand, your work turns out well and your undertakings succeed. 
  3. Sometimes things happen that we don't like and which are not our fault. Act with care and integrity in even the smallest transactions; coming from your center doesn't mean you ignore the context you're in. Accommodate yourself with acceptance to the demands of the actual situation.
  4. You can't lose what is really yours, so you can relax. Attend only to remaining true to your own nature. Don't pressure or distract yourself with opinions, desires or fears. Stay with what's essential and immediate and you'll know when and how to be helpful. 
  5. If something unwanted comes along by accident, don't combat it with external means. As long as it isn't rooted in some fixated confusion within you, it will naturally improve by itself.
  6. If the time is not ripe for further progress, it's best to wait quietly, without planning, scheming or explaining. It won't work to try to push ahead in opposition to the way things are going. Give others space to come to understanding for themselves and just tend to what's in front of you now. 

Mat for Tossing I Ching Coins On, fabrics, by Jude Spacks
I doubt I'll get to posting about all 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, but here some others, which also invite you to connect with the oracle on a topic :#3 Difficulty at the Beginning,  #5 Waiting  #12 Standstill  and #60 Limitation.

Enjoy the creative courage of your natural innocence today!  


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Would you like a consult with Jude 
prompted by the I Ching 
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Monster Mirrors Part 1


For years now, I've been working on a graphic book about self-reconciliation called The Innocence Trip: How to Kiss and Make-Up When You've Been Fighting Inside. 

This summer, I ditched the self-helpish version I'd labored over, and tried a new approach. It starts with a little cartoon about how scary thoughts seem realer when we argue with them and then goes into an illustrated memoir about my own (in-progress) liberation from guilt-tripping and other made-up mind traps.

Working on this version, I've had the turvy feeling of walking out beyond the edge of my maps. A spot of ground the size of my foot appears as I'm stepping on it, bringing a dizzy thrill. Or, What Next? doesn't appear yet, so I wait in not-knowing, and tend to other things.

Here's the cartoon intro, in time for Halloween. 










To be continued....





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dark Joke

One black hole says to another, "You are so self-absorbed!"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Theory

Road to the Pond (digitally edited oil sketch by Jude Spacks, 2014)

A friend felt she'd made a big mistake. Even though it had come out alright in the end, she obviously had to buckle down to some hard-labor inner work now. Where had she gone wrong? The story echoed resoundingly with unhappy themes from way back when. What ghastly hidden motives, tendencies and confusions needed to be untangled and cleared up? (In a most compassionate and forgiving way, of course). There must be something important to learn from all this. She'd called to ask for my help to go digging for it.

So many times I've diligently set about 'dealing' with an inner world snafu like this, believing I couldn't get over it until I'd bravely dived into the depths, mining for insights. But lately I've been semi-retired from busying my brain this way, even though I was pretty good at the job--a useful one at times, no doubt.

I saw a little cartoon in my imagination: I'm homeless, rattling a cup for spare change, with a cardboard sign saying, "Will delve for food."

A theory popped out of my mouth. "Fresh new neuropathways are being built, ones leading to creative, healthy ways to respond to experiences like this. So it's best not to send a whole lot of thought-traffic through right now. Let the mind slow down, give the new ways some space to develop. If you spin out a high volume of serious thoughts, they'll have to take that big old superhighway which you really don't like traveling on anymore."


 
Traffic

"Did you just make that up?" she asked. 

"Yup," I said, "I guess so. What if there's really nothing to figure out? The voice of wisdom is notoriously still and small. Easier to hear when it's quieter inside. Amble on down a country road, without any hurry to get there. This whole experience has gone into the past now. Why not just let it be over? Play hookey from the school of Learning What's Wrong With You That Caused 'Mistakes'." 

"I can't tell you how relieved I feel hearing that," she sighed. 

My cat stretched in her sleep and tucked her nose under her paw.  Pretty soon, my friend got off the phone to go spend time with her son. 

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"Don’t give rise to any thought, and discover who you are."

--Papaji

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Drawing Papers

drawing of papers by a window; (c)JudeSpacks2014
Those Papers I've Been Meaning to Deal With For Over A Year

Before giving this prompt to my Awakening Vision Course, I tried it myself: Draw something you feel negativity or rejection towards--anything from boredom to aesthetic disgust. (I asked that they not choose anything oozy or smelly). 

An experiment: Could aversion survive the beam of unbiased attention that engages with the act of drawing? Nope, not this time for me, anyway. My area of paper chaos had been evoking a mild cringe of shame and obligation every time I walked by it. Now this has simply dissolved into light and dark contrasting.

In class, I read a snippet from The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (A No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith): "If Mma Soleti thought that Daisy Manchwe nursed an undying hatred towards her for stealing her husband, then she was probably right. She would have seen the daggers in the other woman's eyes; daggers in the eyes were always visible, sometimes even through sunglasses."

I urged people to look at their object with daggers of rejection in the eyes to start with, and to let that energy transmit right onto the page--no holding back, no trying to accomplish results.

What we noticed: it's not easy to maintain daggers in the eyes. Starting that way can liberate some people from a notion of responsibility to
make things look good which stifles direct involvement with what they perceive. But eye daggers naturally and quickly transmute into pure, keen attention, and even these not-worth-looking-at items began to glow on everyone's pages.

My papers remain unsorted. I walk by with a friendly smile for them.

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“Drawing...it is the best thing that i ever do. First of all because it gets me to be so silent. To not be blurting out what i think about this or feel about that. Second, I become an open observer, jotting down visual notes about something i see. And third, it puts me in the world of praise. To be looking upon an object and taking the time to sketch it is an innocent, unaggressive, and grounding act. It is where bliss resides. It is pure BEING. “

--D. Price in Moonlight Chronicles