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Notes From the Creative Underground

Declaring to myself that I would keep no calendar, unplug from my laptop and all obligations, I set forth to discover what the morning would bring and follow the call of my heart.
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Astonishing. That's what you are: astonishing. You are everywhere, always with me, wherever this path unfolds. Maybe your form today is the one who sits beside me on the bus, or the 17-year-old rapper on the street corner in front of the 7-Eleven. Could be you are the grandma on the park bench, singing her grandbaby a verse from "You are so beautiful." You are the shining light in the homeless man's eyes, who sleeps beneath the freeway bridge, as he reaches out to pet a beagle puppy named Lola. You are the blond little girl with ponytails, learning to gallop like a pony, or her mama worried about how to pay the bills this month. You are the hummingbird in the trees, building her nest, the sun shining through the clouds, revealing a splendid cobalt blue sky. You are the early morning crisp air, leaving dew on the freshly-planted red geraniums. Your light is the light of the moon, surrounded by glittering stars. You are life itself, in its endless shapes and sizes, its agony and ecstasy, its sorrow and petals of delight.

When all else drops away, the astonishment that you really are dissolves that in me which keeps us apart, hanging onto the illusion that we are not connected, for we are, and much more than this. We are brothers and sisters in the great I AM, endless iterations of this gift of life.

When last we met at the café, I set off on a seven-week sabbatical. Declaring to myself that I would keep no calendar, unplug from my laptop and all obligations, I set forth to discover what the morning would bring and follow the call of my heart. My intention was simple: to unharness from whatever pulled me away from flow and whatever shackled me to the "mitote." (You may recall that Don Miguel Ruiz, a Nagual, describes this idea from the Toltec tradition, as "a thousand voices talking at the same time." I call it "monkey mind.") However we name it does not matter. The key is apprehending our "mitote-monkey-mind" and "calling it out" if we want to live more joyfully and awaken.

Why else be here? If there is one thing that became crystal clear during this 49-day interior research project, it is this: We are joy incarnated. Sure, we tie ourselves up in knots over things we cannot change. We slip into puddles of worry over that which is none of our business. We pretend that obsessing about the future will change the outcome. It won't. And when we do these things, we miss the show, the big that life is beneath our protestations. Caught in our little mental eddy, we get farther from the river of life where the goodies abound.

And the nanosecond that we recognize this fact, the most important thing we must do is befriend our humanness and give up self-blame. One of the beauties of a long break from the craziness of our world is that it becomes easier to release the tendency to be too hard on us. How, you may ask? Perhaps it will help to share some notes from the creative underground where I've been dwelling. It is available to each of us, if we are willing to bet on the proposition that life is a gift not to be missed.

Please note: The 10 principles from the creative underground, which follows, is not intended as a method, but rather as a framework, a way of holding a spiritual practice that has, as its ground, a creation-centered spirituality.

Perhaps you believe you cannot take off seven weeks. I understand. Part of me held the same belief with concerns about consequences, which I need not name. But it is possible, with clear intention, to carve out space for 49 days, on a regular basis, if but for 10 minutes every day. This is risky, I acknowledge. But, hey, no guts, no glory. There's a part of you that has been waiting offstage for time just with you: your authentic self imbued with love, beauty, and wisdom. So, here we go:

1. Unplugging from distraction is crucial to still the noise, enter the quiet, and welcome the wisdom of the heart. How can we discover what is holding us back from the joy meant to be ours as long as we function like robots? Yes, we may think that this is not true of us, but I challenge those who believe they are not caught to this 49-day exercise. The reward is more than worth the anxiety. Let me tell you, the first few weeks amazed me. Although I love what I do through my life routinely, the pure and simple bliss of choosing to keep my calendar completely free for the guidance of the day brought monumental glee. Be forewarned: You will be tested by seductions that will force you to clarify what is really important and where you stack up on that list!

2. Become a pioneer for the world you've not yet explored, inner space, the "final frontier." Trust me. The beloved waits. Not only that, but the more we cultivate affection for our true nature, the more juice we've got in our engine to come alive. Why? Our authentic self is pure, unlimited potential as life force itself.

3. Release the need to achieve anything whatsoever from this intentional time. This will be especially difficult, I should warn you, if, like me, you were raised to achieve or produce. (See my book: World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation, Inner City, 2001). In fact, releasing this tendency may prove life changing because it requires a paradigm shift. When we are obsessed with the need to create results, underneath lives a degree of self-doubt. Monkey mind is clever with his whisperings that if we don't keep pushing ourselves, nothing good will come our way. The truth is that if we keep pushing and prodding ourselves like cattle with that "mitote," the good cannot reach us and gain our attention. Our good is seeking us, as surely as we are seeking it.

4. Beneath the small talk and busyness lives the splendor. Befriend creation. Prepare an atmosphere for the good to grow through your actions in the world.

5. Let go whatever is in the way of savoring what arises. This pure wisdom, beauty and love has been waiting for a very long time to penetrate your heart, clear your mind, and awaken your creative spirit. To be free from mental and societal bondage requires releasing rules that hamper what inspires.

6. Choose to blossom from the seed that arises in your creative underground. The seeds are endless. Just focus on the one that arises that has the most juice to it and cultivate and express it in concrete physical form. Anais Nin put it beautifully this way:

"And the day came
when the risk to remain
tight in a bud was
greater than the risk
it took to blossom."

Play with what blossoms. Play is good. Play is the engine of creative living. Choose to remain tight, or choose to let your unlived life flourish. Play on.

7. In the creative underground it is imperative to prepare to be inarticulate. The more we allow our C.S.O. (chief spiritual officer) to direct the show, the more splendors arise in the most unexpected, wordless places. The beauty is impossible to describe. Probably it will be even harder for others to believe. I could tell you stories. The truth is that you simply had to be there to experience such demonstrations of grace moments. Thankfully, others who were present have witnessed a number of mine these past two months. My private "doubting Thomas" appreciates this.

8. In the creative underground you are given permission to come alive. Do so. Jung once quipped to colleagues that if you want to be inspired, replace your small problem with a bigger one if you want to come alive. Allow your process in the creative underground to reveal to you that which is bigger than what you can create by yourself. Sure, it can bring up fear, concerns, because to behold the beauty that is within you will surely bring up monkey mind's resistance. This is OK. It is just evidence that your heart is awakening through releasing old ways of thinking about what you are doing on this earth.

9. In the creative underground, you are free to take back the power of your purpose. Even if you cannot identify your purpose, take back the power of simplicity. This will lead you to where your heart is calling. As I've mentioned in other writing, one of the most significant findings of work with Elisabeth Kubler Ross, with those who had been clinically dead was their experience at death when asked "how did you love, and how did you serve that love?" Hearing this story again and again, it occurred to me that this could be our Cliff Notes while not yet clear on life purpose. Love and serve that love. Take back the power of this purpose, in your own unique, natural way that forces you out of too confining a box.

10. You are free from rush in the creative underground. Allow your own faith in life to spring from what you feel and experience in this mysterious place and space. Neither you nor the world is broken. Be patient. We are in transition, in the throes of transformation. What is needed is seeking you. Give this time. Here, you are free from trying to figure out what is best for others, as well. We cannot know. Their journey is their journey, and not our business. Relax. Take heart. Enjoy the ride. You are not being lazy, but rather, a respecter of process.

Before I do so, allow me to gift the following love letter, imagining that the beloved were addressing you today.

You, there, beloved friend! Dare to be yourself! Yes, you. I am talking to you. Of course, this begs the question: Just who are you? Where are you in the roles you've been playing: the beginning, the middle, and the end? Which ways of being have become dull, lackluster, and lifeless? Give them up. More is in store for you.

Your life has grown smaller than was meant. I do not mean to offend, but, rather, extend to you an invitation. Which values have you been inhabiting, which are no longer bringing joy? Let them go, my friend. Let them go. As our friend, Hafiz once said:

"I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!"

You astonish me. You are astonishment. The light of your being is only diminished by limited thinking, by treating yourself unkindly. Imagine bright shining crystal beads at the window, the sunlight, the moonlight, and the starlight passing through them. Behold the light. What makes you believe that such infinite beauty is not flowing through you? Allow what astonishes to flow through you! Dive in to the river of life once more. Eavesdrop on your chuckle. Rev it up to a full-on belly laugh. Come out to play. Join our dance. Leave the rest behind. You do not need it.

Be the love you are,


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