Yesterday, I posted my five wishes for my creative life, based on psychotherapist Gay Hendricks’ concept of Conscious Living.
Conscious Living is Hendricks’ approach to healing negative thinking, living and communicating authentically and with integrity, and being fully present for every moment of our lives. He has documented his approach, including his personal experiences with the practice and anecdotes from the lives of his clients, in numerous books, starting with Conscious Living.
The principles of Conscious Living call for complete honesty, about your feelings, your failings, and your desires. It centers responsibility and accountability, and focuses on tangible goals. Things that can be seen and felt—peace of mind, happiness, the humane treatment of others—are much more important than intangible religious beliefs, such as rewards after death. Conscious Living says that spiritual growth comes from an embrace of reality, not fanciful ideas nor denial, as well as a commitment to honesty, responsibility, and gratitude.
This may sound like religious hokum, but that’s not where we’re going. Hendricks does profess a belief in God, but his practice focuses on here and now, what’s inside you, and what you can change. Hendricks’ form of psychotherapy acknowledges that we are much more than our habits, flaws, and good qualities, and that the soul is the underpinning of the mind. However, it neither teaches nor requires any belief in any form of theism.
For the next year, I will use Hendricks’ A Year of Living Consciously as a basis for my creative practice. In this book, Hendricks provides 365 questions, practices, and exercises intended to highlight the Conscious Living approach and walk the reader through his ideas. In this blog, I will tackle each daily lesson to see how it applies to my creative work. Some days’ questions may be more applicable than others, but that’s ok. Some will focus on personal growth, integrity, and a better understanding of your emotional self, which can only strengthen your creative expression.
Why Conscious Writing?
Conscious Living asks that we be more present in the moment and I want to bring that focus and attention to my writing. Being more intentional with my creative practice means choosing projects that are meaningful to me and will allow me to express my unique insights, observations, and interests, and yes, even my biases and opinions. I never want to write to fads or trends or to please other people. I want to create work I’ll be proud to leave behind.
Along with that, I want to be more intentional about what I write and how I choose to express it. This means choosing the right characters, setting, language, and concepts to communicate my ideas. No wasted words.
By being more present in life and my writing, I want to explore bigger questions and dig deeper into complex and possibly ugly emotions, with an intense focus on honest expression. My writing may not depict characters acting as they should, but will show people acting as they do.
I also want to focus on what is and can be, not what I think should be. This means dedicating my time and thoughts to my work and what I want to communicate, not to publication or monetary rewards. If I do the former well, the latter will take care of itself. In that vein, I also strive to set aside ego and the need for outside validation. There are better writers out there. There are worse writers who are more successful. My work, whatever form it takes, is still valid.
For January 1, Hendricks asks that we begin with a single step: saying yes to the impulse towards creative growth and the possibility of becoming the greatest version of ourselves. This doesn’t mean the ride will be perfect or that we know what we’ll find at the end. This is about accepting the possibility that we can be more and committing to taking action.
Today, I make the following resolution:
This year, I commit to writing consciously and having fun as I do. I commit to expanding my consciousness and my capacity for creative fun every minute of this year.