Martine & Stephen

Batchelor

At the root of creative awareness is acceptance.  You become aware, conscious of all that constitute you: good qualities, negative tendencies, skills, limitations.  You become able to appreciate and recognise your positive aspects: your kindness, your humor, your intelligence, your joyful or reflective nature, your ability to hear, see, feel, communicate.  You become more confident: “Yes, I am good at this.  I am able to do well in this or that kind of situation.”  And through that knowing and appreciation you can cultivate and develop these qualities even more.  You realise that actually you do not want nor need to become someone else.  You can work with what you were born with and what you have become and are becoming.  It can be a pleasure to know yourself.

With creative awareness, you can also see clearly what are your weaknesses and your limitations.  You see them and accept them and in that way are not blind to them anymore.  They cannot surprise you nor trip you.  You become aware of certain negative patterns, may be a tendency towards being impatient, angry, jealous, jumping to conclusions, being easily depressed or negative about yourself.  In general you are either blind to these tendencies or totally overpowered by them.  With meditative awareness you know them, you accept them fully and have the motivation to work with them creatively. 

Creative awareness gives you choices and provide a space for transformation to occur.  You can become ‘unstuck’ by asking yourself:  “Do I want to continue creating and perpetuating the same suffering  or can I try to experiment and do something different?” By remembering the meditation technique and returning to the breath again and again,  you can activate concentration which prevents you from getting lost in your thoughts and emotions.  It also enables you to diminish and sometimes loosen completely the obsession of the story line.  Inquiry shines light on the situation at hand and by making you look deeply at what is going on ‘right now’ allows you to see things differently and more wisely.  However it takes time for meditation to work at that deep level.  You need to build the power of creative awareness by meditating regularly.  Over time more stillness and clarity will be developed and you will be surprised at the habits and patterns you recognise and are able to shed like some old, worn out clothes. 

You can apply this creative awareness in many different contexts.  For example when you walk in nature, you generally go with the intention to enjoy nature, the fresh air, the beautiful coastline, the flowers, the trees.  However, very quickly, you think about some problems at the office, or your shopping list for dinner tonight or some other worries and concerns.  You actually do not see the blue of the sea and the pinkness of the flowers.  Your body is walking but your mind is somewhere else.  However, creative awareness will jolt you and remind you to be present.  So you look directly and deeply at what is in front of your eyes and feet, and you notice the shimmering quality of the sea, the blueness of a wild flower.  Everything appears with an extraodinary brightness and clarity.  The things around you have not become special but you are looking at them, relating to them in a special way because you have let go of your usual blindfold.  The more you cultivate meditation the more this special way becomes natural and operate freely.

You can bring creative awareness in your work by observing how you are using your body.  This helps you to develop better movements and postures.  I love gardening but it took me some time to accept that I could not use my body willy-nilly when I was doing this.  Every time I would get sciatica until I really observed my movements and found a softer way of digging and weeding.  Creative awareness will also show you different ways of working.  You can be so intent on the goal to achieve that you are constantly ahead of yourself, being already at the end of your tasks and thinking mostly of the next thing.  With the help of meditation try to stay with the task at hand steadily and efficiently and you will enjoy your work so much more.  Otherwise you might work in a very automatic fashion, the body is there but the mind is elsewhere in the past or in the future.  This is not very fulfilling and your actions are mechanical and unaware which could lead to accidents.  Or you might be working and feel very resentful because your work is not ‘valued’ or you do not value it because it is considered a ’low’ kind of work.

Creative awareness is also very useful because it shows you how your mind influences your body and conversely the body influences the mind.  Notice when you are cranky and irritable, what is the true cause of that?  Is it because this kitchen is awful?  You are feeling that you cannot stand it any more, and it is all the fault of so and so anyway!  But turning inwards and looking in: what are you actually feeling?  Are you tired after a very busy week?  Have you been pushing yourself too much because there are so many things to do and you have to do them all by 4pm!  Look, your body is tired, you need to rest, to relax, maybe to lie down for 30 minutes.  What is more important? To continue to be irritated and maybe explode in anger at someone who is there but has not done anything or do a little less after having rested for a while and then be more kind and spacious to yourself and others for the rest of the day or week?

Awareness, concentration, inquiry will help you to create space in your mind to notice these conditions and change the situation.  You will not be passively enduring and reacting according to misguided impulses but you will be working, practising, experimenting, enjoying your life, seeing it more as a play and less as a burden.  You become actively and creatively engaged with it.

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