The Artist's Way- Week 3
Discloser: I completed the Artist’s Way, week 3 for the first time in January 2017. If you’re new to this blog series, click here to read the first post.
This week was a big one. I can't say I have had some big spiritual experience or epiphany, but there was a lot this week that really resonated with me. This chapter covered anger, synchronicities, responsibility, and shame, among other things.
Recovering a Sense of Power
"Anger is fuel. Anger is meant to be listed to. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we've been and lets us know when we haven't liked it. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health. " (Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way, pg. 61)
Anger is not a bad thing. And most of all, it is not a sin. Anger is valid and it demands to be heard. Whether you allow it to speak or not, it will manifest itself. So you might as well allow it and enable yourself to act on it differently by trying to understand it.
"Anger is a tool, not a master." (pg. 62)
But I think we are conditioned to think differently about anger. I will always remember that day in Relief Society... While I don't remember what the lesson was on, I remember the teacher's quick response to someone's comment - "But don't be angry, cuz that's a sin." I know her intention was nothing but love and support. Even so, that comment has stuck with me for a couple years now. And I have never believed it. But that is just an example of the belief system we tend to have around anger, or any other "negative" emotion or characteristic for that matter.
"But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle it, ignore it. We do everything but listen to it." (pg. 61)
...cuz we are nice people.
Again, " ...we tend to think such behavior makes us good people. It doesn't. It makes us frustrated people."
What is a synchronicity? It is given many definitions including: "An intelligent and responsive universe, acting and reacting in your interests.", "... A fortuitous intermeshing of events.", or Serendipity. I feel most of all that synchronicities are answered prayers, spoken or unspoken, big or small.
Julia Cameron gives a few examples... here's two:
A woman wonders how to rent a rare film she has never seen. She finds it at her neighborhood bookstore two days later.
A woman is thinking about going back to school and opens her mail to find her letter requesting her application from the very school she was thinking about going to.
This week asked you to pay attention to the synchronicities in your life. You will find that more and more will start showing up. Some people at this point in the program start to find synchronicities around every corner. This wasn't the case for me. If I looked really hard, I found one or two and have noticed a couple since.
Your task is to simply recognize these synchronicities in your life and thank the universe for them. Do not put expectations on them. By putting expectations on them you are putting limits on God. Not only that but putting expectations on your synchronocities makes it harder to recognize them. Be open to whatever form they come in.
Put your intention out into the universe and trust that it will respond in its own way. Do not let synchronocities fly by with nothing but a passing glance. Give credit to anything and everything that could be a synchronicity. That is the universe working on your behalf! Pay attention!
"Be open to receiving gifts from odd channels: free tickets, a free trip, an offer to buy you dinner, a new-to-you old couch. Practice saying yes to such help." (pg. 75)
Julia Cameron also talks about paying attention to the world around you. This can open your eyes to another form of synchronicity in your life, perhaps one you didn't expect. The mere act of noticing that small pink flower or that towering mountain can be rewarding beyond measure. Acknowledge nature's magnificence, its ability to create and to heal. Notice the patterns and parallels. From a single cell in the body, to the entire cosmos, to God, the same things are happening over and over again. Curious how the veins in your arm resemble the branches of a tree.
"The reward for attention is always healing."
If synchronicity is simply coincidence, then that means that our own dreams or intentions have no effect on the universe around us. If our consciousness doesn't expand to fill the cosmos, then we can remain in our safe little bubble that only extends as far as our eyes can see or as far as the ego is willing to believe.
"...we're much more afraid that there might be a God than we are that there might not be."
"...possibility is far more frightening than impossibility."
"...freedom is far more terrifying than any prison."
Putting limits on God makes us feel safer. If he is limited than so are we and theres nothing we can do about it. If he is not, then the possibilities are endless and we are powerful beyond belief... and that means we have to do something about it. With great power comes great responsibility, right?
So it's on you... and that's scary.
"Life is what we make of it. Whether we conceive of an inner god force or an other, outer God, doesn't matter. Relying on that force does." (pg. 64)
So it's on you... good thing you have help!
The point of taking responsibility is not to shame you. But to allow you to take control of your situation with compassion, forgiveness, and grace and help you move forward with strength. The point of responsibility is to empower you. But yes, that means you have to do something about it. Thank heavens there's a force beyond yourself working on your behalf.
"Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame." - Erica Jong
There is an undeniable tie between responsibility and fault/blame. Which brings me to the fourth highlight of this weeks reading...
"Those who get bogged down by fear before action are usually being sabotaged by an older enemy, shame." (pg. 67)
I believe shame to be the base of all that is "bad" in this world. Any addiction, abusive relationship, family secret... a coverup for the shame, not that you were born with, but that has been ingrained into your mind by a broken and fallen world. All meant to keep you from feeling what you must believe yourself to be... shameful, unworthy, unlovable.
Shame is a cruel ego-defense that stops you from taking action and probably the most painful false self-belief one can carry. And often times, the act of acknowledging and addressing shame is unwelcome. That very act is shamed by those who are trying to cover up their own shame. We fight shame with shame, resulting in more shame.
"But before a wound can heal it must be seen, and this act of exposing the wound to air and light, the artist's act, is often reacted to with shaming." (pg. 68)
Fortunately, the anti-dote for shame is self-love, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness. Don't tell yourself, "It doesn't matter". Tell yourself, "I will heal".