“This is why it is good to know and study the mind, so we may become confident in its use and come to trust ourselves.” There are an infinite number of things to study in our lifetimes. But I think the most important to know is the landscape inside our own head. With practice comes experience, and with experience comes confidence. Natalie Goldberg has many wise words to say about creating and writing in general in her book Wild Mind, Living the Writer’s Life.
One of the mind’s jobs is to have thoughts. Our conscious minds pick up those thoughts, more of them if we become aware of our thoughts and respond instead of react to what comes up both inside and outside of ourselves. Goldberg points out that there is a difference between the thoughts that come from wild mind, that part that is our unconscious, and our monkey mind, those maniacal thoughts that are sometimes negative and hang around more than the fleeting, flashes of light thoughts that come from wild mind. “Writing practice teaches us to accept, connect with and write from first thoughts. But there is a gap. Monkey mind is still busy trying to get control.” Our first thoughts come from wild mind. Monkey mind jumps in and tries to convince us that we shouldn’t write this or that. “Reading your work later is a chance for wild mind and conscious mind to meet.”
“People fail to recognize who they really are, ourselves included. We’re slow to realize the greatness inside ourselves.” I think that there are two camps on this thought. One are those who are narcissistic and egotistical and often criticize other people. The other group are those who think too little of themselves and their talents and abilities. They are often the ones who don’t shine their light because they think they aren’t good enough, that they lack some significant thing, and thus never get to truly explore all that is within them. This is also a trap for the first group. They can believe that everything they do is perfect and therefore there’s no room for improvement or exploration. They, too, neglect the learning from inside.
So, how do we gain experience and confidence? How do we begin the journey within to discover who and what we really are and the gifts we have to offer? “Write every day for ten days in a row. Do not reread anything from those ten days until two weeks later.” And it doesn’t have to be just writing. Paint ten days in a row, play an instrument, cook a meal, throw pots, or walk around outside with a camera. Then let things go for a bit, then look back and ask, how did it feel? What did I learn? What was hard or easy? Did I miss not doing it for a while?
We are often drawn to do things that we have an ability for. That ability turns into talent, perhaps is enhanced, if we practice. In that practice, we determine how to do this “thing”, whether it’s writing, cooking, or playing tennis. We tweak things, we investigate with others, we read and take classes and play around with how it works for us. It gives us something that we want again and again. We learn what comes from monkey mind, and we recognize what comes from wild mind. We use wild mind to create and monkey mind to set things up and do whatever we do with the product we’ve created.
My own wild mind has fed me some fascinating stories and interesting poems. They can be viewed on my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com
Have you been introduced to your wild mind? How do you placate your monkey mind? What do you do to have confidence as a reward?