Monday, 25 June 2012

the daily practice 2

Someone asked me a while ago what I had got from Paul Oertel's workshop that was persisting into the present. I remember saying that one of the most influential things was a clearer sense of how I constantly sabotaged the products of my creative activity. At this stage, I was thinking about negating what came out in talk with others; reducing everything, demeaning it apologetically.

More recently, I've seen how there's also a whole other area of undermining which is to do with behaviour. I've seen it vaguely before, faffing around on the computer etc., dithering here and there. But last week I began to see that I was actually starting to do this with my daily practice. I was still doing it every day, but it was getting later and later, and sometimes having to be done in a slightly rushed state of mind, because of other things things I had to do. After the intensity of the workshop, working seemed to flow so easily, in so many directions. Nothing has changed in my conditions. But what happens, I guess, is that old patterns begin to try to reassert themselves. 

A related pattern I noticed here was that I was suddenly seeing lots of interesting ideas that I could write about (beyond this blog). And then I saw how that was another avoidance tactic. Writing is part of what I do, but at the moment it has to be contained in this direct writing about my own experience. I decided that  wanting to write about huge, fascinating topics was, at least in part, a manifestation of my ego using my intellect to try to distract me from moving into the unknown. Writing is something I've done a lot of. I like it. I know how to research stuff. I could do it reasonably well. But that's the point. It's something I know, and, furthermore, it's something that's very effective at distancing from the felt, from the embodied, and from other kinds of doing which are not intellectual and which I do not do easily, or which I've forgotten how to do easily: a.k.a. movement, music and painting. 

That was helpful, though - to see that a lot of what stops and blocks and holds back and distracts may simply be a fear of moving into unknown territory. Named as that, the territory immediately seems more attainable.

The daily practice seems to contain, and to surface, just about everything that could possibly be relevant to me right now. Wonderfully, as well, it seems to have freed me from constantly fretting about what comes out; how the music is, or what the painting looks like.  Before, if I didn't like what came out, if it didn't seem to be progressing things (frustrating, as I had no idea what the direction was, or what the goal was, or what progression towards it would look like), I would feel critical and dissatisfied. I would scour every product for signs of hope, for indicators of direction. I would long for happy immersion, for playing and doing, or at least, for longer periods of happy immersion, that were not taking place in a context of nameless expectation. But any success at such immersion was continually being hacked away at.

It probably helps that the minute I started the practice (the first one at home, after the workshop), and stopped thinking about the products, everything came together in a big star-filled mass and I suddenly saw what I wanted my work to be. Kind of helps to have a sense of it. I wouldn't say it's  a sense of direction - I still don't know 'where it's going', or really anything about its nature. But I have identified a field. A field that was trying to be recognised before, but which my mind kept rejecting. So now, at the allotted time, I walk into the field, and I start to play. I have to play for a whole hour. And then after an hour, I have to stop, even if I could go on. Often, there isn't a lot 'to show'. Particularly if it's been music (I alternate music-based days with paint-based days). And it doesn't matter. Because the field is there. And I'm in it.


  1. You have Set me thinking........

  2. Thanks for your comment! As you see, there isn't masses of discussion here (which is fine...), and I don't check the blog every day. Please do put your thoughts here if you feel like it - this stuff is so difficult and strange, it's good to talk about it.... ;-)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...