Spiritual Power of Routine - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Spiritual Power of Routine

By Julia Cameron
September 7, 2018

Spiritual Power of Routine - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Recent retirees tend to speak of having mixed feelings about routine. On one hand, they enjoy being free from the externally-imposed schedule of their work lives— they may choose to sleep later, to travel during the week, to eat meals when they fancy them instead of hewing to a strict timetable of meetings and business hours. On the other hand, the lack of routine can be a source of stress. If a person hasn’t shaped his or her own days for decades, it can be a tricky adjustment to determine what exactly is the ideal routine for this new phase of life.

 

Finding a routine

I ask you to be open-minded: although it may take some trial and error, it is possible to find a routine that can begin to feel like a spiritual practice, opening you to guidance, energy and creativity. Creating routines for yourself that comfort you will quiet your mind, and it is this quiet mind that allows inspiration to spring forth.

 

My routine

My daily routine begins when I rise. Before getting out of bed, I reach to my nightstand, take hold of my notebook and pen, and write my three Morning Pages. Pages done, I turn to breakfast, and after breakfast I undertake the steps my pages have suggested. “Walk the dog, change the sheets, read my Ernest Holmes prayers, call my sister, write the foreword for Natalie’s book…” It is a rare day when the pages fail to dictate the next right thing. “Call Domenica,” my pages may suggest. Most of the time the pages yield “good, orderly direction,” which I use acronym for “G-O-D”— God. Afternoon exercise keeps me mentally and physically fit as daily I hike the dirt roads surrounding my house, keeping an alert eye for coyotes and snakes. Late afternoon is an ideal time for working on my current writing project. Once a week, I schedule an Artist Date.

 

How structure gives you freedom

With such minimal structure in place, we find ourselves feeling serene and secure. We are led in directions that serve our spirit. We are once more given routine, but this time it is a routine of our own choosing that responds our inner impulses, not an external taskmaster. Routine brings us into contact with our own capacity for discipline. We learn inspiration from the regular practice of Morning Pages. As we daily invoke the higher power to communicate through our pen, we are nourished with new ideas.

 

The spiritual value of routine

The spiritual value of routine is nowhere more evident than in a monastery. Monks rise at a set time, pray a set morning prayer, then enter a day where bells chime at regular intervals, cueing them to move from activity to activity. Setting time for work, time for prayer, and time for relaxation yields a rewarding, fulfilling and productive life. When we undertake Morning Pages, we undertake routine, but we also undertake a certain form of prayer. As we write, “Please guide me,” we are given a flow of inspiration.

 

Prayer, mindfulness, morning pages

We are indeed guided. As we write each morning about whatever is current for us— feelings of loss, confusion, excitement, wonder, regret— we are, in effect, praying on the page. And it is indeed as if a benevolent force beyond ourselves is listening, whether we choose to name this force or not. Morning Pages give us a path through the day, a place to set our own goals and deadlines. When I call my daughter, I find myself serving as a sounding board. Our exchange is mutually healing. Morning Pages are a jumping-off place for the rest of our lives.

 

Julia Cameron the Artist's Way

Julia Cameron has been an active artist for over four decades. She is the author of more than forty books, including such bestselling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film and television. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of The Artist’s Way, with over five million copies sold.

 

This post first appeared on juliacameronlive.com, and is reposted with permission from the author.

 

Join Julia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 9th-11th, 2018, for her retreat, The Artist’s Way: Blasting Through Blocks. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: creativity , Julia Cameron , wellness , writing
Writing Beyond the Block - Art of Living Retreat Center

Writing Beyond the Block

By Julia Cameron
August 25, 2018

Writing Beyond the Block - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Writing begins with enthusiasm. We launch into a long project with optimism. We have an idea, we trust our idea, we set about putting it to the page. All goes swimmingly for a time— until we hit The Wall. The Wall occurs, in most writing, about two-thirds of the way into our work. Put simply, The Wall is doubt. Our previously good idea suddenly seems suspect. We doubt its validity. Our writing skids to a halt.

 

Moving past doubt

“Julia, I feel such doubt, it stops me in my tracks,” I have been told many times. I sympathize. Doubt is an excruciatingly painful feeling. It tempts us to take creative U-turns, abandoning our work.

 

“Julia, it was going so well, and then I found myself thinking, ‘what if I’m kidding myself?’” That is the voice of doubt. It whispers that we are without talent, and that our hopes of a career are mere grandiosity. It encourages us to mistrust our perceptions. The Wall towers high.

 

Learning to surrender

Typically, when we encounter the wall, we attempt to power our way past it and over it. “It’s a good idea,” we say to ourselves defensively. “I know it’s a good idea.” But our forced optimism doesn’t win the day. The Wall still towers, casting its ominous shadow on our work. But there is a better way to conquer The Wall, and that is to surrender. Instead of trying to convince ourselves of the brilliance of our idea, we need to say instead, “I am willing to finish this piece of work even if my idea is terrible.” In other words, “I am willing to write badly.”

 

Writing badly–on purpose

The moment we are willing to write badly, we begin to have freedom. The Wall no longer dominates our emotional landscape. Instead, like convicts striving to escape prison, we do well not by scrambling over the wall, but by digging our way to freedom under it. Most of us find this approach to the wall a novel idea. We are not really willing to write badly, and yet, when we give ourselves permission, we find that by being willing to write badly, we may write very well indeed.

 

Julia Cameron the Artist's Way

Julia Cameron has been an active artist for over four decades. She is the author of more than forty books, including such bestselling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film and television. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of The Artist’s Way, with over five million copies sold.

 

This post first appeared on juliacameronlive.com, and is reposted with permission from the author.

 

Join Julia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 9th-11th, 2018, for her retreat, The Artist’s Way: Blasting Through Blocks. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: creativity , Julia Cameron , wellness , writer's block , writing
Morning Pages - Art of Living Retreat Center

Creativity, Spirituality, and Morning Pages

By Julia Cameron
July 20, 2018

Morning Pages - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The main message of my work is that creativity and spirituality are intertwined. They each support the growth of the other.

 

The basic tool of a creative recovery is something that I call morning pages. You’re probably familiar with them–they’re three pages of longhand morning writing that you do first thing upon awakening. They brush all of your mental dust to the center, where you can sweep it out through writing.

 

How to do morning pages

There’s really no wrong way to do morning pages. You write with a stream of consciousness, and your only goal is to fill those pages. What you’re really doing, in effect, is minimizing your censor, the one that tells you you’re not smart or good enough. I call my censor Nigel. With morning pages, you have the ability to just say, “Nigel, thank you for sharing your opinion. But I’m going to keep right on writing.” This ability to move past your censor is a portable skill that you can bring with you every time you move into creativity.

 

The creativity myth

I think people are afraid of being “too big for their britches”. We have a spirituality-creativity myth that is sort of punitive–it’s a nice day in paradise, Eve reaches for the apple, she hands it to Adam (who is a hopeless codependent). He takes a bite and the clouds spring open, and a mighty voice says, “You two won’t even get along anymore. You’ll bear your children in pain and suffering.” From this story, we learn that if we try to reach for something that seems a little beyond our reach, if we try to expand ourselves, we are in danger of being punished.

 

But what if we had a different creativity myth? What if, when Eve reached for the apple, the voice from the clouds said, “Far out! I made that apple red for a reason!”

 

If we had a creativity myth that said we would be rewarded and supported for reaching, it would be a lot different. So what we try to do with the Artist’s Way tools is to learn to be in touch with a benevolent higher force.

 

Courage in creativity

The fruits of creative endeavor are many: a sense of well being, a sense of guidance, and the act of creativity in itself is a wonderful healing balm. There is no magic wand we can wave to become suddenly fearlessly creative, but the tools I teach, over time, create courage.

 

Three creative tools

There are three simple tools that, when used in conjunction, create a powerful spiritual awakening: morning pages, an artist date, which is a once-weekly solo expedition to do something that enchants or interests you, and walking. Morning pages are sending, artist dates are receiving. It’s like you’re building a radio kit. When you walk, you integrate the insights from the other two tools.

 

People actually struggle with the idea of artist dates. We have no problem with work–we’re in America! We have a work ethic! But we have a problem with play. Don’t confuse spirituality with seriousness. The tools I teach are playful and joyful.

 

Opening yourself to wonder

When we do morning pages, we’re ventilating to the universe. We’re saying, “This is what I like, this is what I don’t like. This is what I want more of, this is what I want less of.” We learn to tap into our true feelings and become more authentic.

 

As you write, you are setting yourself up for wonder. I recommend picking up a pen and starting with morning pages, no matter where you are in your current growth.

 

Julia Cameron the Artist's Way

Julia Cameron has been an active artist for over four decades. She is the author of more than forty books, including such bestselling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film and television. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of The Artist’s Way, with over five million copies sold.

 

Join Julia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 9th-11th, 2018, for her retreat, The Artist’s Way: Blasting Through Blocks. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: creativity , emotions , Julia Cameron , mindfulness , morning pages , the artist's way , writing
Art of Living - Creative Writing

In House: Eric Maisel on Criticism & Creativity in Writing

By AOLRC
December 18, 2017

Art of Living - Creative Writing

Eric Maisel is a Creativity Coach and author who’s been working with writers for 30 years. This summer, he hosted the Deep Writing Workshop at the Art of Living Retreat Center, where writers of all experience levels relearned how to prioritize and develop their creativity in a supportive, quiet space.

A different kind of writing group

The Deep Writing Retreat is very simple in structure. Eric provides a series of lessons, as well as a safe space — there’s no critiquing or sharing of the writing that is created.

 

“A lot of people come for that reason alone,” Eric says. “They know they’re not going to have their writing shredded by somebody else on the spot. There’s also plenty of time to write, and not on writing exercises that go nowhere, but on their own projects. Many attendees have a project that they’re working on. This is an opportunity to get a lot of writing done in a safe environment, and also learn lessons that they can take back and continue to implement when they’re back home.”

 

About 15 years ago, Eric was invited to teach a writer’s workshop, and his group shared the space with another writer’s course. He noticed how much critiquing and unhappiness was happening in the other group; tears and feuds and everything he knew he didn’t want in a writing workshop. Observing that group, Eric saw how the idea of sharing and critiquing in the moment doesn’t really support one’s intention to have a good experience and get a lot of writing done.

 

According to Eric, many writers don’t understand the extent to which anxiety and existential despair gets in the way of writing, especially when they feel blocked. He crafted his workshops with this in mind, and has been leading groups with compassion, respect, and space for over 15 years.

 

What is deep writing?

Deep writing is simply getting quiet enough to write. “If we get quiet enough, we go deep from a physiological standpoint, and we get our whole brain back,” Eric says. Our minds are always on the go, and not just figuratively. Each thought takes up thousands of neurons, and when you’ve got a lot of your mind, it’s very difficult to find the brain space in which to be creative.

 

“One of the main things I help writers understand is why they want to get quiet. This is different from meditating, but not unrelated. This is quiet for the sake of generating ideas; it’s quiet with the purpose of allowing something to bubble up. When you get quiet, you have that experience of silence in which ideas are born, and that’s the depth of the workshop.”

Deepening your writing practice often has the effect of deepening your life as well. If you’re a writer, and you’re not making time for your writing, it’s easy to become disappointed in yourself and with life in general. Joining a workshop, especially one in which you can give your writing a depth of attention that’s almost impossible in the business of day to day life, helps you do the wonderful, existential work of living your life’s purpose.

 
“I found the Art of Living Retreat Center quiet in a way I’ve never experienced quiet before. Everyone felt very productive in the silence. The place is beautiful, the food is wonderful, and the service is great. It’s been a wonderful experience here.”

Letting your voice ring out

Most people have a voice, or wish they had a voice with which to express themselves. Most of blockage, according to Eric, is self-censorship. Speaking your truth is difficult, whether you’re a writer, an activist, a teacher, or even just initiating a difficult conversation. This is all the same process. The process by which we can let our voice ring out involves getting quiet, being courageous, preparing ourselves, and then actually speaking.

“A lot of the workshop is about eliminating excuses that people have. I think  many find it to be a profound experience, a life-changing experience. I very often get mail from a person long after they’ve taken the workshop, telling me their book is finished or that it’s been published, and that it was the workshop that made the difference.”

Are your thoughts serving you?

Eric also tells us that we need to think the thoughts that will serve us. The biggest creative blocker is the way we talk to ourselves. If we say “I’m not talented”, or “there’s too much competition,” or even things like “I’m too tired to write, I’m too busy”, we won’t get our creative purpose off the ground, or our other purposes as well. The most important element is the cognitive work of making sure that you think thoughts that serve you.


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , criticism , eric maisel , writing

In House: JAC Patrissi on Storytelling for Change

By Paige Reist
April 24, 2017

Storytelling for Change

   

Stories help us connect. They move people to action, get them invested, and create meaningful relationships between ideas and people. JAC Patrissi has dedicated her life to the art of storytelling, and has seen the power that stories have to affect change first-hand. This spring, she will bring her unique and heartfelt approach to storytelling to the Art of Living Retreat Center. Here, JAC touches on what she’ll be sharing this upcoming May.

 

Storytelling for ChangeNo one tells the whole story. Whether we are in an interview for a job or making a toast at a wedding, we all edit; we adapt to the goal at hand, choosing which parts to focus on, which parts to leave out. If our whole life is a tree, the story we tell is a bonsai, carefully pruned and shaped. It is impossible, and not even respectful, to tell everything we know about a thing (though, goodness knows, some of us try).

 

Storytelling for Change is a creative workshop aimed at strengthening your ability to tell the story of the work you do in a way that is brief, natural, and compelling. An idea that is not shared is lost. Your unique insights, the lessons of your life and work, the things that inspire you, are meant to be shared in a way that speaks to others. You can learn to tell moving, funny and essential stories without reading from a script. You can give the toast that comes from the heart and you can move new supporters to join the social causes that give your life its direction.

   

In this workshop, we will explore how audience, character, conflict, and calls to action impact our message and shape the story we choose to tell. We will clarify our own understanding of the kind of change we seek through the work we do and the message we wish to impart. You will learn simple ways to use your voice and body to convey your message naturally.

 

During our three days, we’ll tell our stories to one another in small learning groups in a supportive, safe environment. We will employ a method to giving and receiving feedback that is supported by research on how we learn. Most importantly, you will feel seen and understood as you are coached by others who want you to do well. We will learn tell stories more easily to help people “get” us. Finally, you will leave with two stories ready to tell and the skills to tell many more. This retreat is open to all levels of expertise, all gender expressions, and is appropriate for people in all physical conditions. Please contact us using the form here if you have any special requirements.

 

Come tell us your story

Join JAC Patrissi for a three-day retreat, June 2–4, 2017, in an idyllic setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a relaxing, rewarding, all-inclusive learning experience. You’ll leave rejuvenated and prepared to share your story with the world. Learn more here!

   

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , knowledge , wisdom , writing , writing retreat

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