Jane Arie Baldwin

Personal Tools and Techniques for Unwinding

Month: December, 2011

Why don’t Americans like to talk about God?

God: Relax! I'm not going to hurt you!!

Yesterday I saw an advertisement in the New York Times Book Review of a book called, “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.” Two things immediately popped into my head. The first is, “I am not alone.” Meaning, there are others who dare to use the word Divine in their book titles; and two, “Oh shit! I need to get this thing finished, I’m not the only one meting out where God fits into my life.”

When I opened the opinion page there he was, Eric Weiner, author of, “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine,” writing an article about the relationship Americans have with God. One topic he brings up is that, “a growing number of Americans are running from organized religion, but by no means running from God.” He goes on to say that, “[Ninety-three] percent of those surveyed by Trinity College, say they believe in God or a higher power, which leaves only 7 percent who describe themselves as atheists.

This is great news! It means that we are not becoming a Godless Nation as many of the pundits proclaim. It means that we as a collective have a strong faith, we just don’t know where to put it.

This is where Divine Amnesiac comes in. We are in a time of spiritual transition. We do not have the blind faith of our forebears, men and women that chose duty over mental and spiritual wellbeing. They did not have the freedom to look inward and question what was happening to them. They had to get food on the table during drought, pick up the slack when they lost a loved one to what now would be curable diseases, and they had to conform to societal laws in order to survive.

Survival is no longer a word that works for those of us who live in a Wal-Mart society. Goods are cheap and readily available. Illnesses are curable. It is the access to treatment that is questionable. We no longer live in small communities where we are governed by conformist societal laws. We live in the digital age.

Surviving was once our only choice. Today we can also choose to thrive. Thriving requires some rewiring of our thought processes and lots of practice. Where our forebears were forced to look outward and deal with the life-threatening issues at hand, we have the choice to look inward and learn from our own wisdom. That’s where God is. We are Amnesiacs because we have forgotten this simple Truth. Remembering is simple, it just takes effort to be still and know.

Mr. Weiner defines religion as, “the relationship we have with ourselves.” I agree with that definition though I cannot ignore Marx’s summation that it is the opiate of the masses. Indeed, in the history of the world, religion and politics have acted as conjoined twins to keep the masses satiated. No wonder skepticism has become the norm. Turns out, we are not skeptical of God, just religion in the old sense of the term. However, I like Mr. Weiner’s new and improved definition.

Americans don’t like to talk about God because religion gets in the way. I love it when Mr. Weiner says, “We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious.”

I believe that our society is inventing a new way of being religious. We have just not yet reached the tipping point where this universal inner wisdom has become conventional wisdom. This “religion of the Inner Self” is discovered through the creative process. Being, “in the zone,” with creative work is akin to being one with God. This is done tapping into one’s creative potential and expanding into the feelings it generates.

As Mr. Weiner says, “Like Mr. Job’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive.” Then he goes on to say, “I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment.”

When I read that I thought, “Hell yeah! Creativity is straightforward, unencumbered and absolutely intuitive!”

Creativity celebrates doubt too – Lady Gaga has built an empire on giving voice to the doubtful underdog. Creativity not only encourages experimentation it is experimentation. And creativity – whether it’s writing a song, a poem, and essay, building a sculpture or a skyscraper – can utter the word God, even in a whisper.

The religion of Self is here and is happening. The problem is the difficulty in separating Self from Ego in a manageable way for the masses. Connecting to the inner process of creativity is connecting to truth. Ego cannot hide from truth that the God we are looking for is faith in our own ability.

Anchoring Amidst the Chaos

Anchor Your Creative Wellbeing

I did something unprecedented for me the other day in this time right before Christmas, this time of shopping, and sending annual cards, and creating calendars to send to grandparents with my daughter’s photographs.  At the end of last week I wrote a Manifesto, stating the exact days and times that I would write and declared that slice of time – a couple of hours three times a week – as sacred.  I would schedule no appointments, answer no calls, make no impromptu trips to the store for those little bitty things on the list that are easy to check off.  Checking ‘toilet paper’ off the list is easy.  Checking off  ‘finish book draft,’ — not so much.

It’s easy for me to set the writing of my book aside and say that I need more time than a couple of hours here and a couple of hours there.  For the last two months I’ve had this feeling of  ‘trying to get back to my writing,’ as if it’s as far away as the moon when there’s a hardcopy sitting on a chair near the dining table. When I m not writing on a consistent basis I feel an urgency deep under my skin, an urgency that is only quelled by tending to writing as one would tend to a garden.  Writing is the key to my creative wellbeing.  There are other creative outlets (playing music, pottery) that I engage in that keep my left brain in balance with my right and they all enhance my creative wellbeing.  Yet writing is the one that most feeds my soul.  I asked myself one day last week, “How is it that you can find time each week for a pottery class but not for your writing?”  Indeed, I had been to four, one-hour pottery classes in my life and had produced many bowls, cups, and pots.  What would happen if I spent even one hour a week on my book draft?

Distractions are a funny thing and they come in many forms. Right now my biggest distraction is keeping at bay the feeling of frenzy that comes with this season — the season that at its heart is about gratitude.  So if you are feeling overwhelm any at all BEFORE the holidays then this time is an especially sensitive time for you.  For me it’s very easy to get caught up in the feeling of frenzy.  I see people walking out of stores, their shopping bags overflowing and I think, “am I forgetting someone?” “Should I get so and so more something something?”  If I’m not careful I can buy into the chaos all around me.

That is why my Manifesto has been so amazing.  I made my plan. Notice I didn’t say, “I set my goals.”  With me there is something about the word ‘goals’ that makes me go all Type A and get sick — catch a cold and fall under the weather for many days in a row.  And I made a plan that felt attainable and added a couple of caveats.  One, if I cannot make the day  I have set aside then I schedule the same block of time on another day.  A second caveat is that if I cannot make the total block time then I pick an amount of time that will work for me that day.  Any amount that I feel comfortable with that will keep my writing fresh in my mind will enhance my creative wellbeing.  Wiggle room is of utmost importance to me because if I feel trapped, if I make a strict schedule that I must stick to – I will rebel with a big F*&K IT!  And that reaction is the opposite of what I really want to happen.  I want to finesse my creative wellbeing.  I want to nurture it. I want my creative wellbeing to expand, not contract.

My Manifesto is already working.  Just this morning I had to move some things around on my calendar as my daughter Ruby woke up with a fever and I opted to let her sleep-in a couple of hours and take her to school late.  Rather than falling into old habits and using this experience as an example of how, “creating sacred time in my life will never work because my time is not my own,” I laid down next to her and closed my eyes.  We awoke a little over an hour later feeling refreshed. When I revisited my Manifesto I immediately felt its effects as an anchor — as it is anchoring me to what is really important to my creative wellbeing.  Reading it.  Taking action. Scheduling even fifteen minutes, heck, even two minutes has anchored me in stillness and self-confidence rather than the external chaos.

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