On Creativity

 

In sixth grade, my daughter, Camille, made a papier-mâché  “Ellacambit”. For those of you who are wondering, an “Ellacambit” is an elephant/rabbit combo forged together with the help of a little bit of Cami ingenuity. I gotta admit, he was a pretty fabulous creature. He joyfully graced our kitchen table for quite a while. We eventually “lost” him to an encroaching mold infection.  We mourn him still. 

The job of the artist is making tangible the inner workings of the imagination. The Greeks refer to this process of bringing something into existence as aition. Creation is not just about making something happen, it is a matter of letting something come forth and setting it free. Acts of creativity capitalize on the process of making the invisible visible.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi wrote about normal human perception as containing the values of all levels of knowing – from the gross, surface level to the abstract, absolute value. His motivation for bringing meditation to the West was to restore this visionary seeing/knowing to individuals across the world. He taught that it was stress that blocked an individuals’ ability to utilize the fullness of normal perception. By releasing stress, individuals would regain a normality of perception – and this would open the gateway to enlightenment. 

Consciousness based education brings the inner and outer – subjective and objective – worlds closer together. When we are able to see beyond the gross level, we are able to connect with the pulsing urges that exist beneath the surface of known reality. This is where all the ideas live. Unencumbered by the weight of our stress, we can dive deep into this bubbling pool of creativity.

I like to imagine that this is the land where the Ellacambit’s roam free!

-Molly

(Photo: Elacambit’s distant cousin – Beacamgon!)

On Love

 

I have a beautiful garden in my backyard. The woman who helped me plan it made it clear that we needed to have a diversity of flowers in the bed. We laughed a lot during the planning – you see, I happen to really love lilies and other July blooming flowers. Debra reminded me that I wanted a garden that flowered throughout the year. And, she was right. In the spring, I have tulips and daffodils, in the summer I enjoy my lilies, in the fall I have mums and in the winter berries.

Love is born out of allurement – a gravitational pull toward something. This allurement or attraction is related good smells, a soft touch, a pleasing image, a shared laugh. Love is born out of this attraction.

With meditation and the expansion of consciousness, a new form of love spontaneously flows through us. This love is a love for the sake of love. A love related less to a figure-it-out mentality of evaluation but the simple flow of love as an undercurrent of feeling. An internal lighting up in the mere presence of other. Living in this state of love turns the world into a garden without any favorites.

Does Constant Interaction Add to Stress?

 

A meditation on interaction that needs to be watched over and over again to capture its rich, resonant beauty.

Produced by Aj Jackson & Narrated by Molly Beauregard

 

Moving Beyond the Meme

Popular culture is littered with tag lines intended to lead us to enlightenment. “Live in the moment.” “Don’t be attached.” “Meditate.” “Just Breathe.” “You are who you choose to be.” Operating outside a broader understanding of an articulated spirituality, these abstracted ideas become diluted and meaningless. Like signposts in a desert, they point in the right direction but they leave us without any road to travel.

Our new series “Moving Beyond the Meme” will expand on the following abstracted ideas both by offering short blog posts and directing students to our developed book club offerings. 

Up first:  On Thinking

Thinking is important. It is also complex. In order for you to read this sentence several million neurons needed to fire together coherently. A working brain is an important asset. However, it is not all you are.

Thinking is simply a thin layer of activity that functions on the surface level of your existence. In the deeper more expansive regions of yourself, you are connected to the totality of the universe. When we concentrate our energy on controlling the thinking mind, we swirl in the top level of our existence: the thinking level. The goal of truly knowing our most expanded selves is to transcend the thinking mind. We do this by exploring our own consciousness in a state of silence beneath the level of thought.   

Second:  On Choosing Positive Thoughts

I have read a lot about positive thinking these days. Memes and Facebook posts dedicated to this notion of directing our thinking toward growing a positive outlook. While well intended, these images and short posts ignore one very simple truth: Working to choose positive thoughts is a bit like throwing a blanket on a pile of garbage and then pretending it’s not there when your friends come to visit. It’s important to note that how we feel colors our thoughts. False positivity generally confuses both the speaker and the receiver. True positivity comes at the hands of removing our personal stress. When we think and behave from a place of true contentment, that contentment is reflected in our actions and words. 

Third:  On Consciousness

The best way to understand consciousness is to experience it. That is why I offer students the opportunity to learn to meditate in my course, “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity”. The subjective experience of diving deep within themselves offers them the experience of feeling the expansiveness of their truest self in rich and nuanced ways. Consciousness is infinite. It is divine. It is absolute. Within it, all the mysteries of the universe are held. It is simultaneously both empty and full. It flows freely. 

Fourth:  The Relationship between Thinking and Consciousness

Talking about thinking without understanding its relationship to consciousness is like getting in the car without turning it on, pushing down the gas pedal  and never understanding why we don’t seem to get anywhere. 

Thinking is consciousness and it isn’t. And, this seems to be where many of us have gotten terribly confused. Thinking is an aspect of consciousness. When we are connected to the vast well-spring of consciousness that lies at the very core of our being, we are able to connect our individual mind with the universal mind. With that connection, we gain clarity of thinking. The act of thinking is akin to threading the needle of consciousness, enlivening the infinite through the finite.    

Literature that supports this blog is woven throughout the past four years of our book club picks. Some especially strong examples: January 2016, March 2015, December 2014, April 2014 and December 2013.   

 

Community is Shared

 

I am a sociologist by training. I love to think about culture, people, interactions, identity issues and patterns. Emile Durkheim, the famous French father of all things sociological, argued that one must treat ‘social facts as things’. These “facts” become the subject of study for sociologists. Further, Durkheim believed that collective phenomenon is not merely reducible to the individual actor. Society, he believed, is more than the sum of its many parts. It is a system formed by the association of individuals that come together to constitute a reality with its own distinctive characteristics. Let me think of an example: how about language? Language pre-exists our birth and it continues after our death. Perhaps some of us will have the honor of inventing some new recognizable slang (LOL, duh), however, most of us will go to our grave influencing language to a very limiting degree.

One of the many things I love about yoga and meditation is the feeling of community shared by the many practitioners of both. I love knowing that yoga long preceded my birth and will continue long after I am gone. I love knowing that practicing meditation will go on and on far into the future for my children and my children’s children. I love being a part of a community with shared values.

Like most sociologists, I believe that individual happiness depends on people finding a sense of meaning outside of themselves and connected to the larger society. Social integration is necessary for the maintenance of the social order. There is something so special about walking into a yoga studio and knowing that for one hour you will share a space with like minded people. There is something so profound about meditating with a friend and feeling the bliss of the shared experience. As any sociologist will confirm, we know ourselves through the mutually shared values, habits, routines and patterns of our culture. Building community at the yoga studio or meditation center sends a great message to the culture at large. It confirms the value of taking care of yourself and reminds you of the many people who hope to build a more peaceful, loving, health conscious society.

Molly Beauregard

Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch

May 2015 Book of the Month

Over the last four decades, David Lynch has created some of the best-known and widely discussed screen works of our time. This distinctive writer-director’s art bears not only the mark of box-office success but also critical acclaim and cultural posterity.

Yet Lynch generally reveals little of himself, or the ideas behind his work. Now he provides a rare window into his methods as an artist and his personal working style. In Catching the Big Fish, Lynch writes candidly about the tremendous creative benefits he has gained from his thirty-two-year commitment to practicing transcendental meditation.

In brief chapters, Lynch describes the experience of “diving within” and “catching” ideas like fish-and then preparing them for television or movie screens, and other mediums in which Lynch works, such as photography and painting.

Stalking the Wild Pendulum by Itzhak Bentov

March 2015 Book of the Month

Radical when it was first written in 1977, Stalking the Wild Pendulum offered the reader  a revolutionary image of the human mind and the universe. We at TTSM hope our July 2012 book pick reignites the passion for consciousness studies first inspired by Bentov more than thirty five years ago.

In his creative first book, Itzhak Bentov paints a provocative image of the universe as comprised of sound vibrations, light rays, subtle energies, and packets of consciousness. He also discusses his  ideas that our brains are actually thought amplifiers, not thought’s source; that the universe is a hologram, as is the brain; that we can instantly reclaim any information ever known; that our bodies mirror the universe, down to the working of each cell; that we are pulsating beings in a vibrating universe, in constant motion between the finite and the infinite. Research on the non-locality of consciousness and the holographic nature of the brain are now commonly discussed and explored in the field of consciousness studies. However, it was Bentov’s original work that brought these kinds of issues to mainstream science and made them worthy of consideration using well-constructed reasoning and inspired speculation.

Bentov uses clear, imaginative and inspiring language as well as witty illustrations to drive his points home. His exciting perspective on human consciousness and its limitless possibilities inspired many throughout the late seventies and eighties. It just may be time for a second look at this unique take on consciousness studies!

The Empowerment Plan

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

If there is one thing that I am a stickler on, it is class attendance. A few years ago, a former student, signed up to take a second class with me. When she missed the first two weeks, I was surprised. A good student, Veronika, knew about my “skipping class” pet peeve. Toward the end of the second week of the semester, I received a rather breathless apology email from a very obviously busy young woman. Veronika, it seems, had been otherwise occupied. She had been invited to speak at the UN regarding her burgeoning non-profit “The Empowerment Plan”.

The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit based organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. They hire homeless women from local shelters to become full time seamstresses making coats that transform into sleeping bags. Veronika designed the sleeping bag coat while a student at College for Creative Studies. Her coats are distributed free of cost to homeless individuals.

Prior to founding the Empowerment Plan, Veronika was enrolled in a freshman seminar I taught. In her final paper, she wrote about her own metamorphosis and her awakening to the many realities of life. I remember the assignment specifically because she bound her paper between two pieces of wood. There was a hand drawn vine running between the front and back cover of the “book”. On it were a series of illustrated butterflies. It was beautiful.

I have occasionally thought about that paper while watching Veronika’s meteoritic success from the sidelines. I believe that for every situation in our lives, there is a thought pattern that fuels our actions and maintains our focus. It’s as if that final paper served as a blueprint for her future success. As a young woman just breaking free from a challenging childhood, she had a strong desire to be seen as “worthy”. By giving worth to others, she ultimately imposed worth back upon herself.

In 2011, Veronika won an IDEA Gold Award from the Industrial Design Society of America. She is also the youngest recipient to be awarded the prestigious JFK New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Foundation. In addition, she has spoken at various conferences and colleges, has a Ted talk circulating and has been featured in numerous magazines, new shows and newspapers around the world.

While it may seem like individuals have very little ability to shift cultural patterns, Veronika’s success proves that individuals are the only ones who can do the work. It is through transforming our own lives that we create and construct new realities for both ourselves and others whose lives we touch. “We” are creativity in action and where our personal action meets social issues we are able to produce new ways of seeing the world.

It has been a joy to watch Veronika’s journey unfold. Having recently enjoyed a coffee date with Veronika, I can attest to the fact that she remains grounded, sincere and committed to meaningful social change. She is a powerful game changer.

Please visit: www.empowermentplan.org

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

July 2014 Book of the Month

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding.
Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

We won’t make any promises that Jonathan Livingston Seagull will change your life. The simple novella has undoubtedly been oversold for years as a new-age miracle worker. However, despite its outsized reputation, this 1970 international bestseller still offers some lovely insights and timeless inspiration to readers of all ages. Besides, it’s a perfect beach book! (You won’t even have time to get burned – only takes an hour to read from cover to cover.)

There is a particular sweetness to Richard Bach’s writing. His book chronicles the adventures of a restless seagull intent on perfecting his flying abilities. Despite being cast out of his tribe of gulls as a result of his ambition, Livingston persists in following his dreams. His sometimes lonely journey ultimately leads him to learn many important lessons. Using flight as the ultimate metaphor, this is certainly a story about finding a higher purpose in life.

Often cited as a “spiritual primer” or “hippie self help book”, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an American classic.

Spirit Has Spoken Thru Me

Spirit has spoken thru me,
Though i am still catching up.

These lights you call stars are shards of your broken wholeness.
Why do you dream such painful dreams?

Reality is not like this.
For a moment at your request it can appear so,

But only so you can see yourself shimmer in a cold clear midnight sky.
And only for a moment.

The cold misaligns you,
Fools and folds your senses into aloneness.

At least then a longing for communion and warmth awakens.
And return is promised.

Dualism is such a disturbing game to play.
Is the view really worth the anguish that carries you there?

Deb Smith

See the Film