After traveling through much of the country this past spring and summer, sharing the secrets of Deep Creativity and creative inspiration, at last I have the opportunity to do the same in my own home town, thanks to my friends at Saint Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church. This will be a delightful day of group play activities and personal exploration. Participants will take away a set of simple yet potent tools that can be incorporated into daily life with great ease. The full details are below. I look forward to seeing you there!
Play Inspired, Stay Inspired: Tools for Creative Inspiration
A Workshop offered by Victor Shamas based on his latest book, Deep Creativity
When: Saturday October 27 9:30am - 3:30pm
Where: St. Francis in the Foothills UMC new Celebration Center 4625 E River Rd.
(near River/Swan intersection)
Besides being intensely enjoyable, moments of creative inspiration can lead to major breakthroughs. Here, you will learn a set of six tools that are effective not just for inducing creative inspiration but sustaining it. You will use these tools to create important new outcomes in your life. This will be a fun day of creative play as we move through activities that will help us unleash our passion, refine our vision, free our minds and awaken our creative spirit.
In 1987, University of Arizona psychologist Dr. Victor Shamas had a profound experience of inspiration that led him on a 30-year quest. Along the way, he discovered specific ways to stay inspired on a daily basis, which he has shared through his two non-profit groups (Global Chant and PlayHaven) and his four books: Deep Creativity, The Way of Play, The Chanter’s Guide, and Repose: The Potent Pause.
Registration Fee: $20
Catered Baggins Lunch: $10
(Or bring your own sack lunch)
Register online and find instructions to pay with credit card or check: stfrancisumc.org/lectures
If you do not have access to a computer, call Alice: (520) 292-8799
Registration limited to 50 participants. DEADLINE is Friday, October 12
IF you have a yoga mat or something similar for lying on the floor, please bring it with you.
For questions about the program, email Victor at firstname.lastname@example.org
In August, I had the pleasure to meet artist Suzanne deVeuve at a farmer's market in Sebastopol, California. Immediately, I was struck by her unique viewpoint and the inspirational quality of her art. Suzanne tackles some deep and complex themes in her work, which made me want to learn more about her creative process and her sources of inspiration. Here is our brief interview:
How would you describe your art? What are some of the recurring themes?
Visionary art is my thing. What makes it visionary is that its influences include dreams, as well as collective and personal mythology. My art features spiritual themes from around the world
How did you get started on this path?
When I was in my early 20’s in art school at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, I was reading Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Carl Jung, as well as the diaries of Anais Nin Joseph Campbell’s books on world mythology. These were my big inspiration back then.
Were there specific moments or experiences that pointed you in a specific direction? If so, can you share any of them?
When I met my husband, we traveled to the Southwest and lived in Taos. At one point, we lived in a Navajo hogan. Being pregnant at the time, I was in a very receptive state, which allowed me to absorb the essence and energy of both the land and the indigenous peoples. I originally did a lot of American Indian images. Their clothing and rituals were a great inspiration.
Also I was married at the Hanuman temple in Taos. So Eastern spirituality was also a big influence as my husband had traveled there and shared much of what he had discovered with me. I found some collectors in San Francisco who commissioned several paintings on these themes.
My intentions were and are that these paintings could help integrate the wisdom of the ancient cultures into our high-tech one. This I feel is essential to humanity’s survival.
Can you describe your creative process? What role does intuition play in it?
My creative process is open to whatever comes. I do have dreams that influence what I choose to paint—often to the point of obsession. Thirty years ago I did a painting of the Apache ghost dance and recently I did one inspired by a South American ghost dance. The recent piece was inspired by a dream I had of a serpent lunging at me with an open mouth.
This I later learn was a vision of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec deity that looks like a feathered serpent. Traditionally, this image has appeared to Aztecs during a vision quest that takes place during a solar eclipse, which is when I had the dream. So it’s a wonderful affirmation and realization that the spirit is always interfacing with the material plane.
In Deep Creativity, I identified passion as one of six qualities associated with creative inspiration. To lead a life of inspiration, it helps to find the people and things you’re passionate about so that you can you can immerse yourself and be inspired by them.
A recent study coming out of Yale and Stanford has opened up a new public debate about passion, at least as it pertains to careers and the workplace. The debate revolves around this question: Is it better to follow an existing passion or to learn how to cultivate a new one? The researchers conclude that people are better off learning how to develop their passion as opposed to just following it. One of the investigators, Paul O’Keefe, explains, “Parents, teachers, and employers might get the most out of people if they suggest that interests are developed, not simply found. Telling people to find their passion could suggest that it’s within you just waiting to be revealed. Telling people to follow their passion suggests that the passion will do the lion’s share of the work for you.”
From what I have observed and experienced in the past three decades, both sides of the debate are correct: Passion has to be found AND cultivated. You are unlikely to cultivate a passion for something that does not interest you or that you may even find repulsive. For example, I have never been drawn to microeconomics. That might change if someone close to me is passionate about the topic. Their passion could rub off on me to a certain extent, because nothing is more infectious than passion. For years, I have tried to adhere to the following philosophy when it comes to the people in my life: Show me what you love, and I will love it. That is not always easy to do, but I consider it to be a wonderful challenge.
Throughout my teaching career, I have often asked students about their areas of passion. One of the things I discovered is that most of them could not answer simple questions like this: What do you love to do? What excites you? Where does your passion lie? It could be that college students just assume their professor wants to know about their career choices, like most other adults in their lives. Or they may feel uncomfortable telling their professor about their passion for sex, drugs, music, or video games. But I also wonder if perhaps some of them have never given these kinds of questions much thought because nobody ever asked them.
The researchers in the Yale-Stanford studies seem to have assumed that passion is static and that identifying an existing area of passion requires relatively little effort. I think that neither of these assumptions is right. For me, connecting with passion is a daily occurrence. Every morning, when I wake up, I ask myself: What am I most passionate about today? That can change from day to day. I feel that if I follow what I am passionate about today, it will lead me to what I am passionate about tomorrow.
The thing that evokes passion in you does not have to be huge or Earth-shattering. Smaller passions can open the door to bigger ones. So, just start with the tiny, simple pleasures. Right now, I am excited about writing this blog and about the fresh cauliflower that I am munching. When I throw myself into these passions, they draw my awareness fully into the present moment, which is where I want to live. That is where inspiration lies. Later today, I will give myself over to whatever is in front of me then: an afternoon bike ride, my sweetheart’s soft kisses, or finding just the right gift for my father’s upcoming birthday.
Cultivating passion means fanning a flame that is already burning inside of you. Maybe that flame is nothing more than a flickering ember right now, but that is enough. A raging inferno usually starts off as something small and weak. We all know that a smoldering cigarette butt can be enough to burn down an entire forest.
Stay open to new areas of passion. Be willing to try something you never have before, without any prejudgment or expectation. The whole world is filled with people and things that can inspire love and joy in your heart. You can focus on negative forms of passion, like hate and anger, if you choose. These can be powerful motivators, but they are rarely beneficial to you or anyone else. I have known a few people who turned anger into a force for good in their lives, but I have also seen too many others lose control of their anger until it crippled or destroyed them.
Inspiration often starts with the littlest of things. Find those tiny passions, give them room to grow, and let them take you to new heights. When you follow AND cultivate these small passions, they will steer you towards exciting new avenues of exploration. Every major development and breakthrough in my life began because I was passionate about something or someone. Even the most seemingly frivolous trivial thing can make a difference if you open yourself to it. So I say: Long live passion!
I want to hear from you! Please share your questions and comments. And sign up for my newsletter, where I will pass along the insights, ideas, and inspiration that come my way.