Permission to Pause

Steps to pause and refuel creative energy.

Excerpt from Reframe Your Artistry, the book:

Picture the last time you powered down. If you cannot recall, I’m not judging. I very much relate. Nights pass with a neglected feeling of wanting to connect with my husband at bedtime, even if it’s a few highlights or lowlights from our day. Too often, we’re both scrolling through our phones for latest updates and what-nots. Take it from me, power down more often. It’s liberating! And it’s healthy. And your artistic growth depends upon this healthy freedom.

            Silence your cell phone and camp out in your make-shift art cave. Or just make eye contact with someone, anyone, or anything, during prime time.  Maybe this sounds too good to be true, right away. But like Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, build it and it will come to you. Intend to make it happen! And it happens!

MECHANISMS TO PRACTICE PAUSING INCLUDE:

three part breath, three times: inhale – belly, chest, nostrils, exhale – nostrils, chest, belly

set an intention and visualize actions that embody that intention

make eye contact and follow a child’s or pet’s lead for ten minutes

journal for a few minutes, early in the morning or to engage creative circuitry during a lunch break

sketch a familiar spot

meander down an unfamiliar lane

back to the ground, study the sky

            With pausing practices under your belt, powering down is within reach. Pausing with natural elements, repurposing energy, or marveling at supposed mistakes shift our outlook. It warms up our brain to thaw technological chills. Pause and fresh point of view are some of the best nutrients for a twenty-first century brain. They are also vital nutrients to expand concentration to find your flow for art making. The practice of pausing is productive for the brain no matter what you’re engaging with. And I bet the time spent pausing off-line will translate into more time spent art making.

            Begin by setting aside pockets of time throughout the day and choose to pause. Some of these pockets may be straight-up pauses and some may be time for art making. Some pauses could be as brief as a drink of water or three even breaths. Some might be as simple as a two-minute shower or as long as thirty minutes meal. Length does not matter as much as mindful attention to one grace-filled thing at a time.

NOTICE THAT GRACE-FILLED THING WITH BEGINNER’S EYES AND ATTENTIVE REGARD.

            Pausing becomes second nature like flossing rituals. The tool’s brand may change, and certain brands work better for some than others, but the effect is similar. Pauses clean out excess goop and create healthy foundations.  The more habitual the practice, the cleaner the space. I consider quality of mind, or the health of our mind-body-spirit connection, to be our mental ability to maximize intentional living and decrease distractibility or reactivity. Give pause, with or without art making, the same hygiene regard as flossing. Like any habit formation, after a matter of weeks, it becomes part of your lifestyle.

Redirecting the Wayward Traveler

Inspiration for restorative walk, perhaps – before your next creative endeavor.

Let’s begin.

Head outside.

Allow each step to be a conscious, next step – in some direction. Forward? Still? Play around with levels. Kneel, if that is available to you, see the lower levels of life. Look up, see the infinite expanse above us all.

I encourage you to bring your attention to an intention, in this moment: intent to notice the outside world, through your senses. I see…I hear…I smell…I touch…I taste…

I will repeat each of these phrases and allow you to explore them more deliberately.

Before that, a note, my friend, about being with your senses outside.

Roam, roam in a matter of fact way – getting so curious, about what you see, get curious about the details.

But again, notice in what I call a matter of fact way.

Quiet the volume on judgments, the way you wish something might be, quiet the volume on everything but noticing and soaking with your outside would, through your senses, with a beginner’s mind.

This practice, this practice will set your tensions and point of view free, free to roam.

Ah, I know you’re human. Those personal experiences, those personal thoughts, feelings, and sensations are bound to come up. But unless they are intense enough like a full bladder and need to be tended to ASAP, please, practice letting them go. Let them go. And return to each of the prompts I will remind you of…this very act of letting go will also pave new ways for you to travel, traveling the healthiest and freshet pathways of your mind when you want to. Intending to focus on something, allows you to focus better this time and next time and the time after that.

Go ahead, show up.

Keep walking.

Keep walking, change levels, pause with the following prompts:

I see…

I hear…

I smell…

I touch…

I taste…

When you are fulfilled, head back inside. But keep this fresh imprint with you, that at any time, in any context – you may explore and marvel. All you need is an intention to pay attention, through your senses.

When you are ready, show up for whatever you choose to do next, refreshed.

On Intersections of Trauma and Creativity

I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Tanner Wallace, @thisiscandykiss, last Friday. The inspiration for the discussion was her work on trauma, relationships, and intersections with artist dilemmas. I hope you will check out the wealth of output from that interview at Youtube, snipits via InstaTV, and via podcast format.

Since the discussion, my own clinical problem solving and imagination has creatively benefited. There was a moment, and it felt like the eye of the storm regarding the flow of our trauma discussion, when we discussed how to care for and what it tends to be like at that moment – retraumatized, flashbacked; as artist, as partner, as well intentioned isolated human – we feel utterly alone, hopeless, and re-aroused as if it’s the first or fiftieth time of our mistreatment.

The wise doctor gave some brilliant suggestions on shifting the self-talk. And, we discussed interpretations and minced experienced of mindfulness applications, and its sometimes severe ineptitude, at that hour.

And then I pitched and began to wonder, as she began to do the same, in the absence of a healing voice, an image of a healing other – might our imaginations, the stories we could tell ourselves (sometimes less based on this supposed 21st century the better), might we find a compatriot?

In my own aloneness, an in between of mixed ethnicity, mixed states of being between fitting in and so-far-out-there, I know this state. It has crept into my conscience, taken over and pulled me as far down as almost grave at times.

And then, I told the wise doctor – last Friday, I have experienced for myself, as I notice in clients with such damaged early life attachments in the shelters of Boston (that they prefer street or shelter to shelter life to any human proximity) I told her, art is usually there for me, no matter what.

It is, often, an inkling, a poetic line, that builds into a structure when I come to. Come to, my friends, what I refer to as moving out from under the heavy cloud of re-arousal and depression that follows. It used to be a gesture, that would build into a dance. And for many artists that I work with – it is a color, a brushstroke, that becomes a painting or beat, a lyric that becomes a song. When there is nor has there been any other safe introjects, as we call it in the psychology world; none of those things we can conjure from within nor our support network, maybe – for some of us, artistry remains.

I am neither art therapist nor a trauma specialist, acute trauma that is. I am a mindfulish human, artist, and psychotherapist. However, my lived experience of recurrent relational and system traumas – now coined either Complex Trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Complex – and the bearing witness of similar experiences of clients, I wonder if artistry does more, at times, for the artist than simply being that thing we do.

I wonder, as well, what sort of research does or could exist regarding art as the introject to save the wounded soul. I already see how it saves the world, and my own world, specifically.

A Merry Mindful Holiday Season to You!

As we move into the holiday season, many of us are swirling with mixed emotions that trace back to childhood.

Regardless of detail from our lived experience – we may feel excitement, hope, intrusive bad memories, hurt, loneliness, and anger.


Your emotional space is your sacred subjective world. Be mindful of what comes up this month, hold your lived experience in a sacred zone of validation and then get curious about what thoughts, feelings, sensations and actions you choose (with clarity) to carry forward in this moment. This is your moment.

Fall into creativity.

‘Tis the season to be enveloped by the elements. The weather is not too hot, not too cold. And bold colors, they swirl around us. Be reminded, that even as things devolve, there is elegance in the breakdown. Allow your eye to wander in unassuming directions. Here, I looked down, to capture the magic of wet leaves (they are more than just a nuisance:). Engage in your world, just as it is: for that is beautiful.

Mindful Artists Connected by Water

Photography by Peter Slater

Many of you are aware of my penchant for water, and what wetness – persistent albeit ever changing degrees of wetness – teaches us regarding our radical interconnections to the environment and one another.

It is with that sentiment in mind, and the grace of Peter Slater, that I feel a sense of kinship to someone’s work that is outside my own country of origin; some might say we are separated by the distance of one ocean, one pond, and yet, my mind likes to think, artists like ourselves remain connected by the continuity of a fresh perspective (including one that values how water flows constantly between us, connecting us, more than separating us).

Please offer a warm welcome in the comments or by reaching out to this talented, mindful artist – directly.

This month, I am honored to introduce to the Reframed world, the wise-angled point of view of Peter Slater. Peter is self-described as “retired” from the world of Sports and Leisure Management, living latterly across the pond from my US digs, in Newcastle upon Tyne. The “retired” in quotes, as he appears to be in the middle of a budding artistic career. Photography has been his means to express his interests in the natural world, particularly birds. He also has a keen interest in music and art.

I am grateful to learn of his refreshing and soulful perspective via the Instragram-Community. He is located via @pasjest510.

While you’re there, send me a hello at my budding platforms @jesshonig and @reframeyourartistry, and share your work via #reframeyourartistry to continue growth of a mindful artists’ movement capturing moments – just as they situate, right here and right now – of compassion for self, other, and the planet.

Find Beauty in the Hornet’s Nest

This week, I am totally inspired by an abandoned hornet’s nest that fell from a tree outside our home. My spouse encouraged me to be brave and wait out the hornets, and here is my reward. Marvel with me, at the amazing talents of these tiny animals. Join me, as we zoom in on life, beautiful – just as it situates.

Share your natural wonders with me via a tag #reframeyourartistry. And follow my pursuits in the Instragram world @reframeyourartistry and @jesshonig.

Big Picture Dreams

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Get outside, get into nature, and explore….Dr. Scott Sampson

 

This was a slow morning in Vermont. My partner and I were visiting a dear friend, en route to a wedding a few miles north. Vermont. The heart of it: desolate (minus the bleak and dismal), small towns, and strung together by lush woods, hills, rivers,  Northern Lights, and rolling green.

It is here, I like to visit. It is anywhere that might meet the description: strung together by….nature. Because, I believe in nature as the inspiration that connects us all. For now. For now, it is what we know. The rest, detail.

I refer to this way of thinking – seeking big picture, natural and broad rather than detail of who wears what and how to coordinate with: SELECTIVE AMNESIA.

SELECTIVE AMNESIA: def. the ability to let go of what doesn’t matter, to move into the next moment with greater focus and clarity.

It’s my personal take on BIG PICTURE living.

I practice it in neighborly conversation, when politics could get in the way.

I practice it with family, when memory could ruin a perfectly fresh celebration.

I practice it with my artistry, showing up to do that thing that I love to do, letting go of labels regarding the shoulds and used-to’s.

In art, as in so many labels for what we do – challenge yourself to resist labels. What to produce? Who am I? These are secondary questions to the notion: be – as you are, as you intend – where you are at, NOW.

Join me, my fellow mindful artist. Begin again. Head into nature, and do as the fabulous Dr. Scott Sampson would suggest – explore.

Find a roaming hill, as I did, pictured above. That was a slow, clear morning for me (in Vermont). I intend to find that slow and clear place (no matter the geography).

Welcome back, you’ve got this.