The Creative Process: Letting Go

Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”[i]  Creating something new requires letting go of something old.  The May 26, 2017 blog, “The Creative Process: Receiving What the Universe Brings” focuses, in part, on the idea of letting go (  Today’s post continues that discussion by examining the concept of incubation.

Among other meanings, Webster’s dictionary defines incubation as: the act of keeping an organism, a cell, or cell culture in conditions favorable for growth and development.[ii]  For our purposes, incubation means providing favorable conditions for creating.  Looking through the lens of a garden, setting an intention plants the seeds.  Focusing attention on the intention fertilizes and waters the seeds.  Letting go stimulates incubation.

However, a paradox arises as we hold our attention on the intention and simultaneously let go.  The garden metaphor illuminates a stable stance related to these seeming opposites.  From above ground, incubation is a period of no apparent growth even though much happens beneath the soil before the tender shoot pushes to the surface.  Similarly, when we create, incubation is a time of purposefully letting go.  These mental breaks allow connections to link-up below consciousness until new ideas arise in our awareness.  Just as excessive fertilizer burns plants and over-watering drowns them, excessive mental activity burns-out the mind and crowds the spaciousness that liberates intuitive ideas.  Creating demands that we maintain a balance between holding attention and letting go.

We cultivate incubation when we engage in mental rest.  Some activities that promote incubation include sleeping, taking time with family or friends, being in nature, reading a book, watching a movie, or participating in physical activities such as walking, biking, dancing, showering, etc.  Any pursuit that introduces a gap in our focused attention makes space for incubation.

The story of Elias Howe offers an interesting example of incubation occurring during sleep when a creative solution appeared in a dream:

Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1845. He had the idea of a machine with a needle which would go through a piece of cloth but he couldn’t figure out exactly how it would work. In his dream, cannibals were preparing to cook him and they were dancing around the fire waving their spears. Howe noticed at the head of each spear there was a small hole through the shaft and the up-and-down motion of the spears and the hole remained with him when he woke. The idea of passing the thread through the needle close to the point, not at the other end, was a major innovation in making mechanical sewing possible.[iii]

Bedroom interior decor with an old fashioned wooden bed with a red cover with hanging lamps on either side and a window with a closed floor length blind

Just as nature supplies the sun, rain and decaying matter that fertilizes our gardens, the Universe contributes elements that expand the possibilities for our creative outcomes.  Go for a run or take a nap and witness how the Universe partners with you as you create.


[ii] incubation. (no date provided). The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Retrieved July 27, 2017 from website


Picasso photo courtesy of Google

Bed photo courtesy of

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The Creative Process: Giving Thanks

After months of writing about creativity from a conceptual perspective, today I offer a practical example of how I live these concepts.  During the month of June, I consciously applied the steps of the creative process as I planned, prepared and presented a five-day art camp for eight middle school students.

The steps are:

Setting an intention

Focusing your attention on your intention

Letting go of control and allowing the process to unfold

Receiving what the Universe brings you

Giving thanks

My blog posts from February, March, April and May 2017 provide a brief explanation of the purpose and value of each step.

To begin, I set an intention to craft a creative, expansive and fun camp.  Then I strengthened and anchored this intention by choosing the mental and emotional states I wanted to experience as I organized and led the activities.  I selected qualities of happy, masterful, ease, balance, grounded and clear.  These characteristics established a high-frequency vibratory state for my energy field and the entire creative process.

The next step involves maintaining a consistent focus on the intention.  I accomplished this by setting a regular schedule for purchasing supplies, organizing materials and planning lessons.  Every time I worked on this project I revisited the intention for a creative, expansive and fun camp.

Once the week began, I maintained balance between directing and allowing as I provided instructions, emphasized that artistic license urges artists to go beyond guidelines and encouraged the imaginative ideas proposed by the students.  Unexpected outcomes arose daily and hourly.  These unforeseen events provided opportunities to let go of control and receive what the Universe presented.  I frequently had to revise the process, adjust my expectations or let go of my attachment to an outcome.  The artists were even more flexible.  They showed appreciation for the surprises that arose in their work.  I frequently heard comments such as, “It’s not what I expected but I kind of like it.”

Now that the camp is over, it is time to give thanks and celebrate.  Gratitude and celebration signal the psyche and the soul that this particular creative process is complete.  Completion grounds the energy that was generated before and during the camp.  Completion promotes integration of the learning that occurred during the entire process.  Completion brings forth a void or opening that attracts new energy to support the next creative endeavor.  When we forget to consciously acknowledge the completion of our creations, we disrupt grounding and interrupt integration.  We also limit our access to the energy available for the next project.

Gratitude flowed through our closing ceremony as I thanked the students for their great attitudes and excellent cooperation and effort.  This post celebrates the culmination of my efforts as it honors the artists’ creativity and success.  Every student produced three major works: an enlargement of an image from the Sunday comic section of The Seattle Times; a Batik image on a pillowcase and a silk screen design on a T-shirt.  I hope you enjoy seeing their art as much as we enjoyed making it.  The campers and I experienced a creative, expansive and fun week!

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The Creative Process: Receiving What the Universe Brings

To grow, flowers need sunshine and rain.  To grow our creations, we must cultivate a blend of desirable and seemingly less desirable components.  If we think of sunshine as seeing our intentions come to life, we must also expect downpours of unexpected outcomes.  This is because the act of setting an intention activates a stream of energy that connects present reality with the desired outcome.  Between these endpoints, additional currents enter the flow.  The new streams generate turbulence as they increase the amount of energy.  They also cause disruption as they shift the direction of the flow.  Before they come to life, some of the points between the present and desired realities lie outside of awareness.  We often perceive these unexpected experiences as an endpoint rather than a step along the way.  Turbulence, disruption and unanticipated stepping stones feel like rain on our creations. They often cause us to mistakenly conclude that our desire is beyond our capacity to create. 

When we receive what the Universe brings, the rain of unintended outcomes assists the growth of our creation.  This assistance occurs because

  1. Receiving sustains the flow of energy and
  2. The unexpected outcomes provide feedback about the creative process

In terms of energy flow, when many of us experience an unexpected or unpleasant incident, the first impulse is to resist that circumstance.  However, resistance restricts the flow of energy.  Successful creating requires a strong, consistent energetic stream.  A constricted flow produces a weak, unstable or distorted outcome.  Like martial artists who know how to absorb an opponent’s energy and use it for personal gain, we want to receive what the Universe brings.  Allowing unintended outcomes, free from resistance, permits the consistent stream required for precision in the art of creating.

In addition to supporting the steady flow of energy, a second benefit of receiving what the Universe brings is that unexpected outcomes provide valuable feedback.  They help us refine the intention and they spotlight for us how we are holding our attention.  For example, I work with a client who set an intention to improve her health.  She started a fitness program and altered her diet.  She set a goal to lose 30 pounds.  Every time she lost 10 or 15 pounds, she got excited about her progress and felt confident she would meet her goal.  Unfortunately, situations arose that set her back to her starting weight.  She injured her back and could not exercise.  Her employer assigned new responsibilities that included travel and it was difficult to maintain healthy eating habits when away from home.  Eighteen months passed and she was back at her starting weight.  However, as she looked more closely at her intention, she realized that, despite her weight, the fitness program had improved her health by increasing her strength and stamina.  At the same time, the unexpected outcome of constantly returning to her starting weight helped her refine her intention, specifically targeting her weight.  It also revealed where and how she was focusing her attention.  She was concentrating on the past by thinking of times when she had lost and regained weight.  She was also creating from a platform of worry/failure by believing that this oscillation would always be her relationship with her weight.  Knowing that we create what we focus on, she returned her awareness to the present, released this old belief and replaced it with the awareness that she is capable, tenacious and attractive.  She and I will pay attention to what comes into form with this refined intention and updated perspective.  The new feedback will inform the next spiral of her creative process.

Like the rain that makes flowers grow, turbulence, disruptions and unrecognized stepping stones are an integral part of the creative process.  Eventually a new reality emerges and the energy flows smoothly until ripples of growth reveal that the next creative cycle is underway.

Flower and Stepping Stone images courtesy of

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The Creative Process: Focusing Attention on Your Intention

Since January 2017, I have been exploring creativity by writing a book review, presenting an overview of the creative process and offering ideas to consider when setting an intention.  Today’s post explores the importance of focusing your attention on the intention.

Attention acts like a magnet that draws the energy of the intention to you.  Maintaining attention builds energy that brings the non-physical energetic template of the intention into physical form.  Factors related to holding attention on the intention include:

  • your vibrational frequency as you direct your attention
  • the constancy of your focus and
  • your ability to maintain balance

The vibrational frequency refers to the emotional and mental state you experience as you focus your attention.  Vibrational frequency has already been discussed in the March 26, 2017 post related to the thoughts and feelings experienced when setting the intention.  Vibrational frequency also influences the quality of your attention.  For example, when I feel lack based on the knowing that I want something I do not have, this emotion becomes a magnet that attracts more lack.  An alternate response is to choose joy, understanding that achieving my desire will enhance my joy.  This distinction may sound challenging or inconsequential.  However, from an energetic viewpoint, lack is like barren ground compared to the fertile soil of joy.

In addition to addressing the emotional state, it is important to maintain high-frequency thoughts.  These include ideas such as abundance, appreciation, balance, beauty, capability, compassion, cooperation, creativity, ease, fairness, harmony, laughter, oneness, open-heartedness, peace, playfulness, radiance, reverence for all life, self-empowerment, self-expression, sharing, spiritual development, understanding and vitality to name a few.  In his “Fundamental Tools,” Jim Self, the founder of Mastering Alchemy recommends establishing a foundation of certain, capable, senior, happy, gracious, and commanding as a platform for maintaining a stable, high-frequency vibrational state.[i]  Adopt his words or select your own to activate thought patterns that energize the quality of your attention.

In addition to setting a high vibrational frequency, you must also maintain constant attention on your intention.  This involves steadiness of attention as well as steadfast openness to receive.  Variables that interrupt attention include doubt, contradictory or controlling input from others, distractibility, multiple interests that dilute your focus and your own inner critic.  When you notice interrupting influences, return your attention to your intention.

Elements that interfere with the capacity to receive are feelings such as fear or unworthiness and mistaken beliefs such as feeling fundamentally flawed, thinking that success means you must leave others behind or believing that success is a burden.  Steadfast openness to receive draws your intention to you just as gravity draws raindrops from a mountain top to the sea.  Gay Hendricks, in his book The Big Leap, describes ways to unravel and move beyond many of the elements that interfere with your capacity to receive.[ii]

Finally, it is important to maintain balance while holding attention on the intention.  Just as golf requires a balanced swing to avoid a hook or slice, balance helps us reach the target of the desired outcome.  One way to achieve balance is to maintain equilibrium between action and stillness/allowing.  Allowing will be described in more detail in the May blog post titled, “Creating: Receiving What the Universe Brings.”

There is no formula for maintaining attention on the intention.  Instead we must constantly observe our feelings, thoughts and attention points.  When needed, we must adjust these factors to maintain alignment with our desired outcome.   If you want assistance creating with precision, joy and confidence, email me at

[i] Self, J.  Fundamental Tools 9. Words. Mastering Alchemy.

[ii] Hendricks, G.  (2010).  The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level.  New York: Harper Collins.

Magnifying glass image courtesy of Gerla Brakkee at

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Bringing the Dream to Life: Setting an Intention

Last month, when I wrote about the creative process, I indicated that it involves five steps:

Setting an intention

Focusing your attention on your intention

Letting go of control and allowing the process to unfold

Receiving what the Universe brings and

Giving thanks

Continuing that focus, today’s post explores the details of setting an intention.  This step involves:

Identifying thoughts and emotions related to the desired outcome

Strengthening attitudes, beliefs and feelings that are aligned with your vision and

Adjusting or eliminating incongruent ideas and sentiments

It is necessary to examine your thoughts and emotions because they generate an electromagnetic field that influences the experience you wish to create.  Thoughts are electrical (think of the electroencephalogram that measures electrical impulses in the brain).   Emotions are magnetic (consider the electromagnetic energy generated by the heart).  Together, they produce an electromagnetic field in your energetic system.  Thinking strengthens electrical energy.  Activating strong emotions and combining them with your thoughts increases the force of the electromagnetic field.  Over time, the field increases in density until your desired experience comes to life.

Attitudes, beliefs and feelings always generate an electromagnetic field.  When we hold ideas and emotions that are aligned with the desired outcome, they create a stable, coherent field that supports our intentions.  When we activate thoughts and feelings that are incongruent with the desired outcome, some energies cancel each other while others combine to create extremes that introduce a distortion or wobble in the field.  This disturbance interferes with our intentions.

For example, it is my intention to support my clients as they more fully embody their wholeness.  If I hold thoughts of being incapable or unworthy, my energy vibrates with an energy signature of limitation that restricts my ability to provide effective support.  These conditions prevent the vision from coming into form.  Even when the sense of unworthiness lies outside of my conscious awareness, it continues to reverberate in my field and influence my work with clients.

As another example, if I recognize past successes yet maintain a low-level feeling of being incapable or unworthy, this combination of thoughts and feelings introduces a different energy signature.  Now, rather than limiting my capacity to create my desire, the dissonance between past success and underlying unworthiness creates a wobble in my creation.  Like a vase spinning unevenly on a pottery wheel, my healing practice will be unbalanced, inconsistent and unstable.  I must align my desire, thoughts, feelings and actions to maintain the conditions needed to bring my dream to life.

The process of setting an intention is the foundation for bringing your dreams to life.  The essential ingredient is a strong coherence between the intention and your thoughts and emotions.  If you want assistance clarifying your thoughts and emotions, strengthening the ones that align with your intention and adjusting or eliminating incongruent beliefs and feelings, email me at

electromagnetic field image courtesy of

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Bringing the Dream to Life: An Overview of Creating

dream-catcher-by-jaime-handley-on-unsplash-comWhen you think of creating what comes to mind?  Perhaps you picture making something out of nothing or combining seemingly unrelated things or ideas in new ways.  You might envision the work of artists, musicians and designers and imagine that they are more creative than other people.  However, when we look closely, we recognize that everyone creates.  We craft our lives, form relationships and activate states of being whether or not we are aware of doing so.  Being conscious of the creative process stabilizes our creations, accelerates our progress and enhances our precision in manifesting our dreams.

This post explores the creative process in order to bring unconscious patterns into conscious awareness.  Ideally your creations align with the will of Creator.  While you can create outside of Divine Will, you do so from a 3rd dimensional perspective of duality and conditionality and these constructs limit your creations.  To create within a higher dimensional consciousness, you must be in a state of well-being, respect, cooperation, fairness, balance, harmony and reverence for all life.  These qualities naturally align you and your desires with Creator’s will and they offer a more expansive range of possible outcomes.

The process of creating involves five steps:

Setting an intention

Focusing your attention on your intention

Letting go of control and allowing the process to unfold

Receiving what the Universe brings you

Giving thanks

Upcoming posts will explore these steps more deeply.

The awareness that I am a creator changes how I engage with life.  I no longer react to problems and events.  Instead, I view circumstances as a mirror reflecting an energetic pattern that vibrates in my energy field.  Irritations and problems reveal the presence of a pattern that limits me.  I can shift my thoughts, feelings, words, actions and beliefs to create a new pattern that activates different outcomes.  With each alteration in my internal landscape, I intentionally create a different energy pattern.  Every adjustment brings me closer to the joy and well-being that I dream for my life.

What is the dream you desire to bring to life?  As an unnamed Disney employee reminds us, “If you can dream it, you can create it!”[1]

If you want assistance in creating with precision, joy and confidence, email me at


Dreamcatcher photo courtesy of Jaime Handley at


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The Artist’s Rule: A Book Review

book-cover-the-artists-ruleThe New Year brings the opportunity to simultaneously expand and focus our awareness. I have chosen creativity as the star that will guide my soul’s navigation through 2017. In light of that choice, I am reviewing Christine Valters Paintner’s book, The Artist’s Rule.

My experience of reading Paintner’s book reminds me of my excitement the first time I watched “The Wizard of Oz” on a color television. I had already seen the movie many times and I knew the story by heart. Nevertheless, I was awe-struck when the scenes in Kansas, which were filmed in black and white, burst into brilliant reds, yellows and greens as Dorothy lands in the new world of Oz.

Similarly, in The Artist’s Rule, the familiar subjects of creativity and spirituality explode into a kaleidoscope of connections when the reader enters the liminal space where these topics converge. Paintner achieves this effect as she quotes and comments on the understandings of artists, poets, mystics, psychologists, theologians, Scriptures and other wisdom traditions.

The book, which reads like a stimulating conversation with a soul friend, “began as an online course called Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist.” (p. 3.) It maps a twelve-week journey that blends sparkling elements of creativity with rich values of spirituality. The bones of the book are practices such as contemplation, praying the hours, obedience, humility, hospitality, community, asceticism and service. Paintner fleshes out the content with teachings from Celtic and Cherokee traditions, insights from early Christian, desert fathers and mothers and the intelligence of the Earth’s seasons.

After discussing contemporary perspectives on ancient wisdom, each chapter offers contemplative practices that include questions for reflection and a reading to ponder. Then Paintner presents two creative explorations, generally using visual and written forms, with some opportunities for movement. Rather than focusing on artistic products, the exercises foster transformation. Paintner encourages the reader to “give yourself permission to make ‘bad’ art. By ‘bad,’ I simply mean art that is purely for self-exploration . . . and for honoring the beauty found in truthfulness.” (p. 103) This style of artistic play can uncover the splendor that dwells in our sacred depths. Poetic gems from participants in the online class shimmer at the end of each chapter. The structure of every creative activity provides support for timid novices while launching bold oficionados.

Written for those interested in spirituality and creativity, Paintner’s book cultivates awareness of “the sacred presence beating through the heart of the world.” (p. 16) Readers can enjoy the book from cover-to-cover, or by engaging with random excerpts. They can be successful alone or in a group. Perhaps they will find that the content, reflections and creative explorations carry them over the rainbow to the place where “the monk and the artist are one.” (p. 161)

Happy New Year and Kunghei fatchoy! What star will you choose to guide your soul’s navigation through 2017?

The Artist’s Rule: A Twelve-Week Journey Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner; Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2011; 173 pages

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