The Life of a Creative-Part 4

Aligator Juniper  Photo by Michele Venne

Aligator Juniper
Photo by Michele Venne

Everyone who creates has their own way of going about it. Sometimes we pick things up from other creatives. We try something out and find that it gets us out of a rut or around a block or allows us to go a little deeper. “Do something to let you sink into yourself, so you may write from that quiet place of equanimity and truth. You are safe, go ahead. Stay simple.” Says Natalie Goldberg in her book Wild Mind. It is with that sinking and recognizing the quiet that the Muse appears dressed in equanimity and truth.

In yoga (Zen, Buddhism, etc.), we talk some about the monkey mind. This is the conscious mind where our preferences and judgements and rational thinking take place. We could not survive without our monkey mind. We would be in a vegetative state without it. To partake in society, we need our monkey mind. Many yoga students learn to utilize the tools and techniques of the practice in order to tame the monkey, the thoughts zipping in and out of our consciousness. When we pay attention to what the mind is doing, that’s the first step. We learn to not follow the monkey as it swings from tree to tree feeding us this story and that one. If we do, then we miss so much of the wild mind, everything around us that is connected, the unconscious, which Natalie believes is a limiting term. “. . . our job as writers is not to diddle around our whole lives in the dot [monkey mind] but to take one big step out of it and sink into the big sky and write from there. Let everything run through us and grab as much as we can of it with a pen and paper. Let yourself live in something that is already rightfully yours—your own wild mind. . . This is what Zen, too, asks you to do: to sit down in the middle of your wild mind. This is all about a loss of control. This is what falling in love is, too: a loss of control. Can you do this? Lose control and let wild mind take over? It is the best way to write. To live, too.”

So, we can look at this in two ways. One, we pay attention to the monkey mind so we aren’t led astray by negative thoughts and criticisms. We use our consciousness to form sentences and stories, create paintings, compose music, take pictures, and cook wonderful meals. Our conscious minds tell us the rules, and then we decide if we’re going to bend or break them. Two, once we recognize the noise of the monkey mind, we’re able to slip beneath it, to our own wild minds. The silence that is the knot of everything. If we create from this space, then it is a type of lack of control. We let go, and the wildness of everything, our unconscious, our connection, our Muse, flows uninhibited through us and onto the page. That’s genuine. The monkey mind is contrived.

As a student and teacher of yoga, studying and taming the monkey mind is an on-going endeavor for me. As a writer, knowing when my monkey gets in the way of my wild is helpful. The results of when I’ve let go can be viewed on my website:

Have you trained your monkey mind? What do you do to sink into yourself when you create?