Fixation vs. Focus: How to Navigate the Creative Journey

by Julie on May 14, 2015 · 1 comment

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“Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit?”

~ Gabrielle Roth

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The other morning, as I was walking home from taking my grandson to school, I had one of those epiphanies that makes a big impact on how one sees the world. As I walked past a bright yellow house (and I mean BRIGHT yellow!), in my mind’s eye I could clearly see how everything – everything – exists in a sea of awareness (what I could feel was love). In my mind’s eye, I was aware of everything – thoughts, senses, perceptions, feelings, objects, ideas, visions, etc. It was as if they were floating in this sea that is consciousness.

What I noticed is that the awareness that I am (and that each of us is) could choose where to place focus, choosing what to focus on – UNLESS I became fixated on something – a mood, a thought, a particular outlook, a way of being in the world, an identity. When fixation happens, it’s as if everything else goes into the background and what is being fixated on becomes the most important, really the only, thing that’s seen.

When this happens to me in life, often the fixation is so compulsive and unconscious that the move to fixation is imperceptible. At some point, I become aware that I am fixating – usually because I feel some sort of rigidity and frustration.

Over the past years, I’ve focused on waking up out of this compulsive and unconscious tendency to fixate. It’s what egos do. They fixate. Rather than flowing and trusting, they fixate. As I’ve come to know life as it can be when it is more free of this unconscious fixation, I’ve been fighting structure while craving it, too. As I walked, I realized that the structure I have been craving in my life is not the same structure I’ve fought; rather, what I was being shown is the power of focus, the power of choosing, consciously, where to place your focus and attention.

Focus as I am writing of it is very different than fixation. Focus directs consciousness in flow. Fixation causes consciousness to go rigid.

 

Many people think controlling yourself is stopping yourself from living, holding yourself back from experiencing life, but really control puts you in a position to be able to channel and direct pure energy into any task you do, so instead of being scattered all around, you become an absolute force to be reckoned with.
~ Clairey Fairy

 

As I walked, what I could see is this kind of directing of pure energy. Clairey refers to it as controlling. I felt it as a kind of focus and directing. The directing was coming not from my mind, but from somewhere down deeper inside me.

It was coming from an inner radar that registers what feels right and true in the moment.

When we clearly and succinctly place our awareness and energy on something, we become this ‘force to be reckoned with’, because what we are IS a force of nature. Instead of it being diffuse, suddenly it becomes a powerful beam of consciousness, clearly focused on creating. Living life as a creation, as a work of art, is a kind of freedom. Yet to do this, requires structure, discipline, and focus. In my case, fighting structure has been fighting myself. I had to find this out the hard way. Even though I teach this work and have for years, I, too, am learning how to open more to the creative process. We are always learning, if we are open.

In working with many people, I’ve found there is this longing to be free of the constraints placed upon us by cultural ideals and standards that smother our authenticity. We long to be free. Yet, we also long to create. How do we hold them both?

Expectations keep us from being creative – expectations of others, of ourselves, and of how things will turn out from the choices we make. Placing expectations on life, and on others, keeps the realm of new possibilities at bay for if all you see are what you expect then the only things you will create are those things that come from what already exists in this world. And, if creativity is what is new, then what you create will not even really be creative.

So, the first questions from students is always: “Well, if you don’t have expectations, what keeps you from drifting in nothingness, doing nothing? What keeps you from being a couch potato? How do we move forward without expectations?”

I’ve often struggled with how to articulate this because it doesn’t fit into our current idea of how to be successful in the world. We are taught success comes from pushing and striving toward the completion of goals. However, pushing and striving almost always come from expectations – in fact, often goals in the way people usually hold them are really just expectations.

How do we hold a vision, feel the longing to create, while allowing life to move us in a way we cannot know ahead of time? It’s a dance between the vision we see, which we can call an intention, and keeping our awareness open to what shows up – paying attention to what comes back to us in response to the choices we make.

Expectations are a way of rigidly fixating. Intentions are a way of creatively focusing.

An illustrative example:

I have a vision in which I see myself speaking on stage somewhere in the world. I don’t know where this is, but the image is clear and the image keeps coming. I see a few other details, too, that I use to fill in the vision. I am speaking about creativity and love, and how we are so deeply connected to the earth. On stage, I am using multimedia (photos, videos) to supplement my speech. It’s really more of a combination of storytelling and poetic prose.

Now, how I will get to this place I don’t yet know. If I were to set goals, which I might, I could be tempted to make them pretty rigid without wiggle room. I could be tempted to begin to envision a linear process to ‘make’ this happen. But I know creativity is not a linear process. It is a very feminine process, one that winds and weaves as I meet life with an open heart AND a more ‘masculine-like’ structure of intention. Without any structure, I have chaos. With too much structure, there is no room for flow and possibility. And, all the while I listen, sense, and feel for what is next, for the direction I feel called, using my mind as the rational ally.

We need both the flow of the feminine and the structure of the masculine for a healthy creative process.

What I saw the other day was a clear image that showed me how I can see focus differently than how I’ve been holding structure, and for me this was a powerful insight because it helped me to know how it feels to do this. The image allowed me to feel it in my body. I know how it feels when my focus is scattered (this I know well!), and then I could feel how it feels when my focus is direct and channeled.

It’s all a dance with life. We meet life and life meets us. It takes trust, and it takes us being a willing, open dance partner. It takes learning to deeply listen, to feel, to sense…all things a good dancer knows.

Awareness and the wisdom of the body allow us to channel our life force to create with intention, while at the same time following the guiding hand of life.

In this way, we become a powerfully creative force of nature, in tune with nature, in service to nature, in service to love.

I’m curious about you. What have you noticed about focus and discipline and structure? How have these helped your creativity? How have they hindered your creativity?

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bafonbadge300pxIf you’d like to go deeper into the way I facilitate creativity while applying what you learn in real-time to your own life or business vision, join me for this summer run of Becoming a Force of Nature. Registration is now open. This is a powerful course. It can be a vehicle for deep transformation, as well as practical, tangible movement on a intention you are holding.

We will dive deep into the creative process. We’ll experience first-hand ways to creatively meet life’s challenges. When you live your life as a work of art, you come to realize you are the true creation.

This is the last time I will be offering the course in this format. Along with 12 teaching calls, you’ll receive 12 rich multi-media PDFs for each course weekly segment. After the course is done, you’ll be able to dive even deeper by way of these rich interactive lessons.

Take a look to see if the course is right for you. If it is, come join me for this summer journey.

 

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Kim May 15, 2015 at 8:35 am

Wow, Julie, this is so clearly written and just what I needed to hear right now. One of my writing exercises for today was to write about what structure and discipline mean to me – with the idea that, as creatives we resist structure and discipline, yet as Gabrielle Roth says in your opening quote, we need discipline to be a free spirit.

This is such a dance – to be focused without fixation!

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