Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Importance of Stillness and Play


I thought I would dive into my own answer to Mary Jane's question that she posed yesterday...

Does your brain force you to have some play time before an intense project?


My business is called Soul to Substance Jewelry for a very particular reason. Like yoga practitioners, I consider my personal journey into making metal jewelry more like an adventure into different states of awareness.  I often refer to it as my 'practice'.  I am dedicated to showing up in my studio, and sitting with myself until I am called to make something that has been trying to emerge from my conscious or even subconscious, mind.

Through my practice of metalmaking, I have rediscovered the importance of play. It saddens me that I forgot about this important aspect of living fully while I was busy trying to emerge into adulthood. Without play, without time set aside from all the have to's that we somehow come to believe are more important then our want to's, our baby-born and luminous internal light begins to dim.  Through play, we drop our judgements about ourselves and climb into the sacred space of timelessness. If you have ever been so immersed with a creative project where 3 hours pass by with you thinking it was only 30 minutes, you know what I am referring to.

So what are the positive merits of stillness and how is that related to play?

I know from a creative point of view, stillness is a great way to solve design problems that often emerge from the wildly creative action of play. Often, when I am playing with different design concepts, I just let my mind and hands wonder and I get whisperings and half realized design ideas. After a period of play, I am often left with a small pile of metal ideas that need some refining.

Letting go of the thinking mind and letting your subconscious mind dwell on the solution works for me most of time. The trick is forcing myself to be still to give my subconscious mind room to work it out.

I just had a conversation with my brother regarding this aspect regarding the ebb and flow of creativity and he had this to share:

You can consciously keep your attention on something that you are trying to create, like designs for your jewelry. And your conscious mind is working it, and you are visualizing things and coming up with new and creative ideas. That is half of the story. Your subconscious mind is also trying to fulfill your conscious mind’s desires, and its much more intelligent and wise then your conscious mind is because its been around forever. So if you stay in your conscious mind with something all day long, you never allow your subconscious mind a proper opportunity to really offer you something new. So that is why sometimes it is better to spend 2 or 3 hours in any creative endeavor with focus and undivided attention and then go do something else completely different, walk the dog, go to the grocery, give it a rest for a couple of hours and then come back to it. And then usually you will come back and something will have popped into your head. I have intense one or two hour periods where followed by 15 or 20 or 25 minutes of going outside to water the trees, or going to the bank or something like that, and when I come back I feel like I am starting over. Which is good, I am not bogged down...it maximizes your creativity in any given thing...short bursts followed by redirects in something completely different.

I have found that following intense periods of activity and learning, and yes, playing, my body and mind require a period of stillness to work out all of the internal lessons that are trying to become permanent understandings.

So thank you Mary Jane for offering up that question. It is critical to the creative process.

*Go on over to Lori Anderson's blog and see what she picked from The Art Bead Love Tour! You can also enter your name for the Tour...all the info is over there! This is such a neat project from our own Staci Louise!!


4 comments:

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks, Stacie! I am reading a book called, "Play," by Stuart Brown, MD. and it really focuses on the importance on this topic. When I think back to my younger days when I was obsessed with running (my playtime before hurting my knees), I would come up with really creative ideas for my students while in the middle of a run. My mind was relaxed and ideas would just show up. Letting myself go and stopping myself from over-thinking what I create have been a challenge, but I'm getting better at it. I'll go check out the chain now! Staci Louise has done an awesome job promoting the love of handmade beads/components!! :o)
MaryAnn

Stacie said...

MaryAnn...I will have to get that book! I have met a writer here in Brevard and she has given me some great insight into getting still and writing what you hear in your head first thing in the morning, and then listening to it and picking out the nuggets that just appear...I love this topic...so integral to what we are chasing in our work!

mairedodd said...

brilliantly written, as usual, stacie... it all comes down to honoring balance... committing yourself to showing up to 'work' - but then stepping back to allow other parts of ourselves to emerge and contribute... it is all so left brain/ right brain... conscious/subconscious... perhaps that is why it means so much to us when things come together - you have to step up and let go... it is a practice that encompasses our whole lives - and yet the making is only a part of it... thanks for running with my musings... and i loved your brother's words... i too find that going for walks or whatever can bring on inspiration and solutions...

Luthien said...

my goodness, that a time for this post! i just made something out of my subconscious mind and after it was finished, i looked at it and still didnt know how it had come about until like an hour ago, when i was taking photographs, it suddenly dawned upon me. my hair stood on ends!

and yes, Mary Jane it works like that for me too. i have several commissions to complete and what do i do? play :)with other things. feel like a kid sometimes.

Stacie, thank you for this write up! it hit a cord today :)

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