Artistic Creation and Mindfulness – Writer’s Life Podcast

Several months ago I was a guest of Nancy Christie’s on “Living the Writer’s Life” Podcast. I’m behind on sharing these types of events, yet, here we are!

Nancy and I explore the role of mindfulness in artistic creation and the connection between art and nature.

Nancy and I didn’t get to explore all areas we had intended so I’m including my notes for anyone who is interested in knowing more.

Topics to explore:

How do you find time to be still and mindful, especially during these difficult times?

I’m on a sabbatical for this year from many of my typical practices, after having been on a nearly 15 year healing journey, alongside providing for myself and my 2 kids.

I don’t work a traditional job, with traditional hours. 20 years ago when my husband, now ex-husband, and I decided to start a family, we also made the decision that I we would transition into working for ourselves so that one of us, could always be home with our future kids. I stuck to that once we divorced when the youngest was 1 year old, now 14 years old.

We don’t own a television, freeing up much time that would otherwise be spent watching it.

Going for walks and swims is a priority.

I knew and know that solitude, quiet time, was (is) vital for my sanity.

Does the environment where you live (Reno, Nevada) help foster your creativity? What do you do to reconnect with nature? How can those in very urban environments connect with nature

For me there was a natural flow from nature to my creations, whether that was photography, poetry, life narratives, or artwork made using rocks, limbs, or other items found in nature. I had to learn how to listen to the internal nudges when I got them:

Nature photos: During walks, I get a nudge to stop, turn around, kneel, lay flat on the ground, or some such thought. I had to learn to listen to this, look around, and take the photo.

Poetry: Closing my eyes and letting the words flow, not hesitating, not worrying about grammar or spelling. I had to learn to let my thoughts and heart direct my fingers.

Walks: It took much practice to learn to listen, look, notice, smell … using all of the senses.

Reno and the surrounding area, Mt Rose, Lake Tahoe, Washoe Valley, definitely help foster my creativity.

To reconnect with nature, I immerse myself in nature. This doesn’t have to be extreme, you don’t have to travel to a forest or national park. Just go outside. Find something of nature, and focus on it. Touch it. Smell it. Notice it. Ask nature what you need to know, what she has to share with you.

If you live in an urban environment: Nature cannot be stripped from the places we live. She is there. You may have to look longer and be more observant. Flowers, bushes, weeds, trees, rocks, birds, insects, the sky, clouds, rain, sunshine, the moon. Try to become detail oriented with nature.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a great resource for mindfulness and stillness, and he brings activism into it as well, There is no need to ignore our world while being mindful and still. Although, it is okay to give yourself permission to do just that.

What are some of the messages that derail the creative process?

I think all messages that derail the creative process stem from imposter syndrome. Those thoughts that tell us we don’t know what we’re doing, no one wants to hear what we have to say, who are we to be doing this, etc, etc, etc.

The key for me with the “noise” has been to notice it. Recognize it’s there. Give it space to be. When we resist, it grows. Don’t give in to it. Just notice it, and let it pass through. Rumi’s, The Guest House, is a good reminder for this. I keep it on the fridge as a reminder.

Has writing helped you work through the challenges you have experienced in your life? What advice do you have for others who are struggling for a way to deal with adverse situations regarding using some form of artistic expression—writing or artwork, for example—to release those emotions?

Writing has absolutely helped me work through challenges and life experiences. It has been vital. It has been therapeutic. I have processed deep healing over the past 15 years, and writing has been what got me through, provided solutions, reassurances.

I would write my feelings and emotions and then ask what do I need to know, and then write more. I would always get a response that was helpful. This could be accomplished with artwork too, a painting, with pottery, creating anything. Infuse it with your emotions and feelings, step back and say, now, what do I need to know, then finish the piece with your answer.

My advice: Listen to your intuition. It knows what to do. Do you get the feeling you need to go for a long drive? There is a reason. Do it. You will not be disappointed. It will open you up to continue moving forward. Do you get the feeling you must go for a walk. Do it. Do you feel like you must touch a tree, hug a tree, smell a flower. Do it.

Go here for the podcast on Nancy’s site, and to explore other topics she covers …

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 15 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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