Overcoming Fear and Doubt in the Creative Process
For my friends who observe Chinese New Year, Gong Hey Fat Choy and Gong Xi Fa Cai!
To mark this New Year, I am happily launching today a new website! You will notice that it has been streamlined to showcase the upcoming music releases and tours. Please check it out!
We are now entering the year of the Fire Monkey, known to be a time of rapid change. As I look at the year ahead, it seems that way for me – lots of growth, expansion and possibilities. My team and I are laser focused on the joy of bringing my music to Asia through the upcoming “I Am Light” tour (theme: “Ignite Your Inner Light”), then to the world, where the message is “Find Awakened Presence Everywhere” in my global “Yoga Bomb” tour.
If you tend to be easily distracted, this year will grace you with the opportunity to practice being focused on your goals while following your heart’s joy. I am cheering you on!
From my creative Devi cave (aka my music studio) where my “I Am Light” EP is taking shape, I was reminded the other day of how the creative process is cyclical, with ups and downs on the way to completion. As a yogi, I often reflect upon the wise words in the Bhagavad Gita, which says that a yogi is one who acts without attachment to the fruits of his actions. I am blessed with regular reminders of this understanding, which is at the heart of my life’s work and purpose.
How easy it is for the mind to get caught up in “this is my project”, or “this work is who I am”, and believe that we are what we do. Yoga reminds us that we are not the doers, as life-force moves through us. We are witness to the unfolding of that life force. We humbly serve its arising with joy, trust and deep surrender.
The cyclical nature of creative projects is a common theme in my life as an artist. At first, the surge of energy that moves through to create is so potent, I have no time to think about what is happening. I just act. But then my mind kicks in. I doubt. I ponder. I question. I start getting in the way of the flow.
When I first started to write songs, I would go to the piano or pick up my guitar in a state of joy, with a sparkling idea, only to soon find my head spinning with dizziness. An interference pattern was short-circuiting the flow. Knowing it was temporary, and being very focused on the creative thread I was courting, I would lie down for a moment until it passed. Then I would immediately sit back up and keep writing and listening to the muse.
When I first saw the popular image above, I literally laughed out loud. You may have seen it too. I love how it sums up the creative process so clearly.
My husband and music manager Rishi knows my process so well now that we both have a good laugh when I am moving through the “this sucks” phase. I do my best to watch it move through and not give it energy, as inevitably, some kind of breakthrough and delight is just around the corner. Nature shows us this daily as the darkest hour is just before daybreak.
I often say that my creative process is like taking dictation. My wish is to simply get out of the way so that the creative flow may move through me unimpeded. In that alchemical process is the potential for something transformative for the creator and for their audience.
Fear and doubt can creep in at certain stages of the creative process. They could even be a sign that you are onto something in your work. It seems that when something selfless and potent is getting ready to shine through your creative work, your ego may feel frightened and destabilized and seek to dissuade you through fear and doubt.
Fear and doubt are not bad. I don’t believe any emotion per se is “bad”. But when fear and doubt become overwhelming to the point of silencing your dreams, they hinder your ability to live a fulfilled life. Some fear when starting a new project or embracing life change is natural and can be an ally. It can keep you alert and on your toes.
And so it is with doubt. A small amount of doubt can help you make decisions that are rooted in discernment rather than foolish impulse. Doubt can help you find the courage to ask probing questions and get answers to things that may be less immediately apparent. But too much doubt will keep you from even getting to the starting line.
When fear and doubt become so loud that you talk yourself out of pursuing your creative vision, you must stop, regroup and change the way you deal with these emotions.
From what I can tell, everyone has the voices that say, “I can’t. I am too young. I am too old. I am not good looking enough. I am not healthy enough. I am not wealthy enough. I am not talented enough…” The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on! It does not stop! The “not enoughs” seem to be part of our human shadow. How we manage fear and doubt often makes the difference between those who are happily pursuing a life they love and those who are waiting on the sidelines.
You have a choice. You can give the power to these voices or you can let them go. To let them go, learn to see them as they are. They are distractions, old stories that have no real power other than what you feed them. Letting them go means learning to work with whatever fear and doubt may be present in the moment, rather than pushing them away.
Just as with any emotion, when you try to run from it, it follows you. When you sink into it and become identified with it, you lose yourself in it. When we run from or sink into fear and doubt, they grow. What you resist persists. Instead, welcome fear and doubt, and be with them. When you are present with the difficult stages of the creative process and stop fighting the fear and doubt, the energy that feeds them subsides.
The very love and spark and deep passion that made you start your journey in the first place is the source to which you return again and again. You may feel afraid. That is ok. You may feel challenged and unsure how to make it through. That is ok. Beyond the doubts and the fears, stronger than the power of the obstacles, you learn to touch with confidence the reality that you are guided, that you are not alone, that you are loved. Though the dark may scare you, you know you are a being of infinite light.
Adversity will come. Obstacles will come. Tests will come. But so too will the help, the angels, the mentors, your own support crew, and the so very potent self-confidence. The universe conspires to support your greatest joy. In this you will learn to believe. You have to put yourself out there to discover that your dreams are indeed possible.
In your creative process, may you always remember that fear and doubt are only passing clouds on the way to letting your soul light shine.
Until next time,
Love our world.
We are ONE Earth family.