Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 5 (Creativity)

January 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment




I am not sure how one can have a discussion about spirituality without touching the subject of creativity.  I truly can’t imagine a discussion of photography without it.


So where does one begin a subject like this?  I guess we just start.


This will undoubtedly seem a bit obtuse but I do hope it comes clear in the end.


When studying the internal styles of Kung Fu I came upon something that has helped me in many endeavors. A different understanding of will or willpower.


My sifu in teaching me how to control and work with Chi (the bioelectric energy that flows through our bodies), he would refer to using my will.  Well to me will was that thing that I would stiffen, strengthen into an unyielding force within me as I attempted to perform something or fight against something. I think you get this, just think willpower.


The more I tried to use this willpower to accomplish the cultivation and use of my bodily energy the more it would elude me. He would watch me and shake his head. Even though he said I was a very good student I am sure he also wondered how I just could not get it.


When, by a happy accident, while working on the healing methods of Agnes Sanford it finally saw it. I will not bore you with how that happened just that it did.


I now felt it in my movement and was able to control it, somewhat. It was in a very rudimentary form at this point but it was there and working. Later I understood it in more detail and it became easier.  


I had to learn to try softer, not to force anything, to allow it to manifest and move, it was always there I just didn’t understand that.


Rather than stiffing up my mind and trying to force I learned to relax and use my will in the correct way. Okay, try this. Lift your left hand and touch your nose.  Great, you did not have to think about that at all, nor force it, you just did it, that is the understanding you need. It is just that, doing without forcing, relaxed movement. Yes, it is almost impossible to describe this in English. Better in one of the Chinese dialects.  English is an engineering language which is amazing for that use but woefully inadequate for spirituality.


You still use your mind and will, just in a relaxed manner, stiffen up and it leaves.  


An interesting side note is that when I went to my lesson the next day I began my form and he stopped me and said, “very good, you have found your energy.” I was kind of shocked that he could tell. Being the skeptic I devised a little test. As I was doing my form I would make my mind (not body) rigid and unyielding and of course, I could feel the energy leave. He instantly looked at me and said it was gone. I brought it back and he remarked it was so. I did this a  number of times until he asked me what in the heck was wrong with me.  I explained what I had done and he just laughed at the crazy white guy.


What is am getting at is this, when you are working to develop your creativity or spirituality or both as I do believe creativity is highly spiritual, we do serve the creator don’t we, we must be relaxed in a sense. Especially when things get tough or tight.  I have found so many Christians that totally stiffen up in times like this.  We try to force things either through more study and discipline and it eludes us. Sometimes in the creative process, we do the same, just work harder and again it eludes us.


We ought to take a lesson from nature. I have noticed that when on a river trip and I need a drink, depending on the river I am on I will just take a drink. What you do is do not take a drink in the swift water but in a pool where the dirt and things can settle out.  The best way to deal with muddy water is to let it settle. Nature always will teach us how to do things and it is no different in our hearts and minds.  


Relax quit striving and worrying.  Jesus tells us this many times. He tells us not to worry because we mean a great deal to God who takes care of the animals how much more will he take care of us. Well, part of the problem comes in when we have desires that may or may not be granted, as for our life, he cares.


If you read other spiritual traditions they too deal with this and many create systems that are to help with this.


Relaxation is totally against our America ethos, the Calvinist work ethic, and thus we have a hard time with it or feel guilty when we do. The type of relaxation I am speaking of is not idleness, it is a way to work, not being tense or worried. Sometimes, however, it means just that. Stopping long enough to let the dirt settle so things become clear.


God is here and cares and if we can trust and unclench, things become clear.


Tension, stiffness, fear etc. will stifle creativity, well sometimes a good dose of deadline dread can get us moving but that is a totally different thing.


Here is a photo tip. Grab your camera and go shoot. It doesn’t matter if you have shot the heck out of the area you live in and are bored with it, just go shoot. Relax and allow things to appear, they will. Also, don’t think that just because you have your camera you need to take a photo. If nothing strikes your fancy don’t shoot, don’t force things, in the end, you have had a nice walk or drive.


The same goes for prayer or meditation.  It is not always exciting nor do you always get some big breakthrough in the understanding of being. It usually is just uneventful at least in such ways.  It does, however, change you, bit by bit usually in unnoticeable ways until one day you look at yourself and notice a change. Yep. relaxed and unforced.


So in closing, I personally believe that learning to unclench, relax, loosen up both physically and mentally will allow creativity to flow just as it does with the energy in our bodies.


Afterall, it is all intermingled anyway.



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