It's beautiful to be back in the UK after visits to India and Australia over the last three months. The sunshine and heat of the Southern Hemisphere have met complete contrast in the snowiest conditions I've ever seen in central London. Everything is blanketed in white. It's like a fairytale.
Looking out the window at the way the snow moves as it falls is almost meditatively hypnotic. Sometimes the snowflakes drift directly upward! There's something about the gentle but chaotic dance that brings a sense of calmness and relaxation, and reminds me of the spiritual theme for the year - creative contentment.
Creative contentment can be interpreted two ways - finding contentment in creativity, and creating contentment in more and more situations and circumstances in life.
Contentment in Creativity
'Creative Contentment' could be interpreted as an opportunity to exercise your creative muscle: to take up a creative hobby such as painting, singing, sculpting, cooking, writing or performing. Creativity is a way of entering into the psychological state of Flow - a state in which you become so engrossed in what you're doing that you forget everything other than the moment. It is almost like a meditation; a way of connecting with yourself through immersion in your activity. Sometimes in the course of a creative endeavor, the conscious brain relaxes and the unconscious - the part of us that is connected to intuition, emotion and genius - reveals itself in colour and splendor. Through this glimpse of a different part of self, your relationship with and knowledge of yourself becomes richer, and more inspiration becomes available to you in other areas of life.
So much of what we do in our lives is driven by what is practical: What makes sense? What will get us where we're going fastest? Sometimes as we race towards the finish line, we miss the point of being right here and right now in this moment. Am I actually enjoying myself? Is there contentment in my life? Taking time to pursue creativity may not feel like a practical step, but it will feed and nourish a part of you that is not the rational mind, and that nourishment could take you anywhere.
An important detail about embarking upon creative endeavour is that you don't have to be good at the creative thing you try, you just have to enjoy it. Years ago, I started tinkling away on the piano. I definitely wasn't good at it! But following the enjoyment and contentedness of it led to song-writing, and suddenly I was in the recording studio recording 11 original tracks! If you're scared of trying something creative - especially if you're scared of failing - try something you can't fail at, like finger painting. It's not about being the best finger painter/ artist/ chef etc, it's about tapping into a different part of the brain than you usually inhabit; about letting go, having fun, and connecting new neural pathways in the process. Nourishing the creative self connects us to countless possibilities for more doors to joy to open, and all we have to do is play and enjoy.
Living into this theme of creative contentment could also provide an opportunity to experience contentment in more of life's circumstances. A lot of the time, we are not creating contentment for ourselves, but instead establishing the many conditions we would have to meet before we are allowed to be contented. We are setting goals that are supposed to guide our path to happiness, but they often seem instead to dictate what must be achieved before we are entitled to be happy. Every time something occurs or doesn't occur that hinders us from reaching our goal, we feel that contentment and happiness must be further beyond our reach. But what if we could be happy now? How can we be accepting of and even grateful for the twists and turns we encounter along the pathway to our goals? After all, it is often the twists in the road and the challenges - not the straight paved parts of the journey - that make us who we are.
How would our lives look if our objectives were to live authentically and happily rather than to accomplish x, y and z by the end of March? Often we are afraid that if we didn't have these self-imposed hurdles to leap before we could be happy, we wouldn't do anything. But what I have found in my own life, is that the more joyful I am, the more inspiration, energy, and motivation I have to move towards my goals - and the more success I end up achieving. We can actually aim for joy and contentment not instead of striving for our goals, but as part of the means by which we attain them. Ironically, the joy is likely to help us do a better job faster. And we'll have so much more fun!
So at any given moment when you are feeling a lack of contentment, perhaps ask yourself: 'How can I create contentment as things are right now?' Be creative with your perspective, your thoughts and your reactions and see what it does! Also, ask yourself what sort of creative pursuit you might enjoy spending time engaging with. Feeding that part of who you are will unlock more of your potential in all areas of life, leading to more contentment, joy, and possibility. Try it out!
Gayatri will be running a retreat on the theme of Creative Contentment in Wales from the 12th to the 15th of April, 2018. For information and bookings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm looking forward to hearing creative contentment ideas. Creativity is only limited by the imagination - so let go, enjoy, and see what it has to say!