I absolutely loved watching the Olympics, especially the swimming and gymnastics. What intrigued me the most were the expressions on the athletes' faces, which the photographers were able to capture perfectly.
When the athletes walked into their venue, they looked ready and calm, yet clearly aware of the other athletes and their surroundings. When it was an athlete's turn to perform, their facial expressions illustrated the most notable moment -- the incredible inner shift that took place in the nanosecond just before they began. This is when the athletes snapped into self-awareness and intense focus.
On a different level this is somewhat akin to what I experience when I walk into my studio every morning to begin my creative work. My studio becomes my arena. The only differences between myself and the athletes is that no one is watching or judging. Albeit, this seems like a big difference, but for me the ability to achieve this kind of readiness is the same.
Once I am actually in my studio I slip into a different mindset, that is, I sink more deeply into my real self. My studio sets the stage for me to shift from external awareness to inner awareness.
Then that final and most powerful shift occurs. As I begin to draw or paint the external world totally evaporates and I am totally at one with myself and the motions of my hand. While holding the brush or pencil, and making marks I am totally focused on what is happening on the paper, while at the same time not consciously planning them.
That shift in focus is about a state-of-awareness. It is about intense concentration, being in the moment , and being one with the inner self. Arnold Palmer describes it, when he says:
It is not a dreamlike state, but the somehow insulated state, that a great musician achieves in a great performance. He's aware of where he is and what he's doing, but his mind is on the playing of the instrument with an internal sense of rightness.
This highly focused state has been likened to dreaming, meditation and self-hypnosis. At one time or another all of these comparisons have felt accurate.
Even as I write or dictate these thoughts, I feel my whole Self being transported into an alternate reality. It's a different reality then the one I was just experiencing while I was out walking on the beach.
Walking on the beach and taking pictures is a creative reality, but it feels different because my awareness is outwardly focused -- even though I only photograph images that tweak my heart. When I do return from walking on the beach, I notice that I have filled up with inspirational energy. I am ready to create from that inner space. Today I wrote this blog.
To experience a shift in your awareness, try this exercise. (It only takes 5-7 minutes.)
- Sit in a quiet, softly lit space.
- Have a blank piece of paper and pencil ready.
- Sit and breathe quietly for several minutes -- focusing on the in and out breath.
- When you're ready, pick up your pencil and paper, and without thinking make random marks on the paper. Continue making marks for at least 5 minutes.
- Then stop, close your eyes once again, and try to describe what you were thinking or experiencing during that exercise. Did you feel a shift in your awareness? How did it feel to move your hand without thinking, or pre-planning?
- Now, leave the paper and return to your day.
- The next day, look at the paper, turning it in every dimension, and ask yourself, "What might have I been expressing?" Has anything been revealed to me
Tricia Regan the filmmaker had a great explanation of that shift, in this two minute YouTube video:
Please let me know if you have experienced this shift, by emailing me from my website:
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