Monday, March 12, 2007

FW: Balance

I've noticed that I'm not putting my check-ins up on my blog... and I wondered why and then I realised that its because I don't want to grumble too much about it all. And about the book in particular - my feelings that Julia Cameron had one really good idea - the Artist's Way - and has since squeezed loads more books out of it, none of which has spoken to me with the same vibrancy as the first.

In the AW she gives both exercises in the chapter and then ten afterwards, and her writing is full of encouragement.

In FW I'm feeling tainted by her negativity - she says we all need to be careful whom we let into our lives and that she, aware of her own negativity, tries to avoid others with the same trait - well I want to avoid her!

And yet....

I feel part of this group. I have no intention of stopping being part of this group.

And to be part of this group does require that I at least read the book and have a go at the exercises, whilst keeping up with MPs, ADs and walks as much as possible.

One thing which I've found very useful in the past is called

Acknowledge and Let Go

Strangely, I blogged about this almost exactly a year ago in Unpeeling Emotions.

The basic directions are simple:

Out loud you say:

“I acknowledge feeling . . . . . . about ....... (doing) ....... and I choose to let go of this feeling RIGHT NOW!”

Filling in the gaps as appropriate.

And out loud means loud, shouting if necessary - you really need to be convincing about the letting go!

Say it over and over, with feeling and convincingly, until you have convinced yourself that this particular feeling has gone.

For instance:

I acknowledge feeling upset about Julia Cameron expressing her own negativity and I choose to LET GO of this FEELING RIGHT NOW!

then you wait and feel what comes next...

I acknowledge feeling annoyed with Julia Cameron for selling the artist way thinned down and repackaged over and over and I choose to LET GO of this FEELING - RIGHT NOW!

I acknowledge feeling annoyed with myself for being annoyed with Julia Cameron and I choose to LET GO of this FEELING - RIGHT NOW!

I acknowledge feeling upset with myself for not being perfect and and I choose to LET GO of this FEELING RIGHT NOW!

Going this far down has cleared me considerably... but what do you do when

You can't tell how you feel!

Sometimes it is really hard to come up with a word that encapsulates your feelings - it may be that one reason is because you don't actually let yourself feel the feeling - and feelings can be rather slower to form fully than words.

Sit and put your attention into your belly - this is often the seat of emotions - even those that have risen to block your throat can be found here.

If your attention is pulled to some other part of your body let that speak first.

My throat:
I am blocked - I'm really not going to put this stuff into words - its too dangerous and I don't want to say it or see it or hear it!
Okay... well how about finding a picture that expresses that.... lets search on flickr, under the creative commons license, for a something about not seeing or hearing...

See, Speak, Hear. No Evil.

An image uploaded to flickr by Miss Linds

I acknowledge feeling wary of expressing evil in any form and I choose to let go this feeling RIGHT NOW.

Ah, but I still feel wary - less tense about it but not happy.

Maybe there is a good reason for this.

Looking back at last year in my blog I find this:

The Curser

The Curser

I blogged it in February 2006. At that time I wrote:
This card represents inappropriate stillness. Stillness used to send out (and therefore attract back) bad thoughts: moans, groans and whines. The hypochondriac, the bad mouther, the cynic - all these attract in just the things they think about so proving themselves right. Bad luck dogs their days. The little helping spirits are all ears so they attend well to their instructions!
But look a key word here was STILLNESS - I didn't see that at the time but emotions that are blocked and stuck become stagnant and still - this is not the stillness of a beautiful lake, nor the life-giving water of a deep, clear well - its more like that of a sludgy, dark, dank and polluted ditch clogged up with stifled emotions.

And the best way to clear blocked emotions is to LET THEM GO!
I acknowledge feeling blocked emotions about all sorts of things and I choose to let this feeling go - RIGHT NOW!
Stand by for the deluge!

What kind of water have you been finding?


Tony LaRocca said...

LOL As far as avoiding people with negativity & "The Artist's Way"- as Scott "Dilbert" Adams once said, the whole point of any self help book is blowing people off without guilt. (Just be ready to accept that they might not want to be friends anymore...)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post, Caroline.
Thank You! :)

I really would rather read your version, btw. And I need to repeat every one of those 'letting go' suggestions of yours!

I'm annoyed with her for Chapter 3 - telling me to go find some friends while she rants on about all her incredibly supportive famous friends. Yuk.

Thanks for putting it into plain english for me! I feel better already, and am committed to getting through these 12 weeks and coming out stronger & more positive. You are helping me more than JC is at the minute, bless you. Thank you very much.

Caroline said...

Tony - :-)

Suzie Q - thank you - I wish I wasn't struggling with all this stuff but I am and if acknowledging it "out loud" helps you too then that really is a welcome benefit!

Leah said...

i love hearing about your process for letting things go. i'm going to try that!

i've always taken cameron with a big grain of salt. and you're definitely not the first person to suggest that she keeps re-hashing the same idea. but amidst the mud (which i just roll my eyes at), i still think there's some good there. just simply getting me back to my mp's and ad's and meeting a great group of bloggers has been wonderful.

i'm so glad you put out there how you're feeling about it though, caroline. i'm sure it will be helpful to others!

steve said...

This seem s a much better solution to the Seinfeld episode where George's dad kept yelling "Serenity Now, Serenity Now"! every time his wife bothered him (you guys get the show in the UK?--a great slice of NYC humor). I'm still curious to read Finding Water and am surprised to read about it in your description--a sort of downer attitude? I've only read Artists Way in the past, and have been applying some of it since to my life, but I decided yesterday, with a good friend, to start and actually participate in it (today was my first Morning Pages--wish me luck)!

Caroline said...

Leah - I'm glad you take it like that - to be honest one of my reasons for worrying about saying all this was that you might think I was upset with you, but I know it was entirely my choice to get involved in this and that its the right road to travel - I'm just a bit surprised at the way its going.

Steve - wow I'm really glad you are going to do the AW - brilliant - I wish you all the luck you need! As for Julia Cameron's negativity in FW - it may be that there is some cultural difference getting in the way of a more positive reading of it... I'm open to that being one of my reasons for finding her whole manner difficult to deal with in this book.

Unknown said...

Hi Caroline
You had me chuckling at my computer desk. Tarzan got annoyed and went into the other room.

I agree with you so much on the topic of J. Cameron. I did the A.W. last year on my own. While I got something out of it, I found myself editing her out of the book -- actually using a dark marker to hide her sarcasm and self-importance!

I was going to participate in "Finding Water," but took one look at the book and put it back down. She is an angry person, ill at ease in the world and with herself. I heard her on tape once, and her voice told it all.

PS: Thanks for the clever comment on my blog.

Caroline said...

Potato Print - what a brilliant idea to edit out the negativity with a black marker! Shame that the pages in Finding Water are so thin... this whole issue does have its good side - its emphasized to me that the real value in doing this process with a group is the group itself.

Glad you did like my comment - I'm always a little worried about how my, um, "clever" comments will be read and received - there being no way to add in all the extra body language!

Joanna said...

Just paddling at the moment, I'm not where I want to be but it's not JC s fault it's all about balance, balance is always my biggest challenge! I've been getting this word for two weeks before this week and at first I thought it would mean this week would be important...missing the obvious that I need to address this 'problem' before I can make progress.

Joanna said...

p.s meant to say...also I really like that illustration for this week! the dots remind me of those aboriginal paintings you see, I love the tranquil colours too!

June said...

LOL I enjoyed reading your are very funny. I'm glad you decided to hang in there for the next 12 weeks despite your feelings, sometimes we learn the most about ourselves when we are genuinely ticked off about something! ;-)

June said...

well actually it will only be for the next 10 weeks (2 down already)!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm in this group.
(release, release, release...aaah)

Caroline said...

Jo - Oh balance is a big one isn't it? The whole of health kinesiology, for instance, is devoted to helping people be more balanced - definitely not a one chapter event!

Jo - thank you! I love playing with the dots and it makes me think of those paintings too!

June - I am glad some humour came through! And yes I know its a great learning experience... sigh...

June - 9 weeks surely - I hope I haven't just hallucinated the third week!

Tinker - what only one comment you've spoilt the pattern! :-) Glad you found some release - it is a very good technique!

Ian russell said...

I'm very intrigued, Caroline.

I know nothing about these programmes but it seems that you are questioning the instructions - this can only be a healthy approach to it. I can't see it as negativity or a bad thing.

Thinking philisophically, doesn't balance in a holistic sense incorporate both negativity and positivity? Rather than avoid negativity I would prefer to understand it - there must be a purpose behind it, a good purpose rather than an evil one. :o)

How will poor old JC pay the bills and care for her own loved ones if she doesn't reinvent the old programme over and over? It's like New Daz washes whiter! But they said that old Daz Washed Whiter than White! How much whiteness can we stand!!! ;o)

Ian russell said...

fat thumb qwertyboard philisophy! lol.

Caroline said...

Ian - thank you - yes I always have a strong inclination to question - and yes its served me well especially in the alternative therapy and self-help world but I wasn't aware that was the hat I was wearing as I wrote this - so thank you very much for enlightening me on that!

Balance does of course require understanding the negativity and hopefully eventually transcending it...

As for poor old JC paying her bills... maybe she should find something else to do!!! ;=)))
(that's a very devilish triple grin... and I'd like the wink to be an eyepatch this time...)

Ian - thanks for returning me to the two comment pattern :-)
All is now right with the world.

gma said...

Wow!!!The Artists Way started me on this trail and I have enjoyed Julias other books....hope that Finding Water does take us to a deeper part of the well....but for now I certainly acknowledge your feelings. This was a wonderful post.

Olivia said...

Now, I understand what you mean, Caroline. I didn't when you left the post on my blog, but I wondered, as I hadn't really seen her as negative. But reading your post, I see your point.

Someone else (suzy q) wrote about Julia Cameron's suggesting we get supportive friends while she discusses her overabundance of them---I agree with the points suzy q made also.

At the same time, I STILL am getting SO MUCH out of FW. Each of Julia Cameron's book has always been worth it for me, and I benefit so much.

I did read her book, "Floor Sample", her autobiography (reviewed yesterday on my blog). I was just amazed that someone so very fragile and frankly---"messed up"---could be so brilliant at the same time. And she is. It is encouraging to know that with her eccentricities (or mental illness, depending upon what your opinion is) she was able to earn a fine living her whole life JUST from her art. She is an example of Perseverance!

Great post, Caroline, and now indeed I DO understand!

Caroline said...

Gemma - thank you - I do hope that my expressing my dissatisfaction has not tainted your enjoyment of the process or the book - that was a another reason I've been cautious about expressing my own doubts about it. I've worked through the AW several times and made it my own... no doubt that is what will happen again.

Olivia - sorry about an out of context comment - I know the context I wrote it in was all in my head!!! I hope you do continue to get lots out of FW - and you really did help me reframe my vision of Julia Cameron with your post - I hope it'll help me get more out of it too. Thank you!

Leah said...

caroline, no, i can't take your feelings about cameron personally. i didn't write the book! i kind of expected this kind of reaction to the book from you, even if you chose to do it, because of how you have approached the aw. and that's totally fine with me!

i guess, i feel like with a lot of things, i take out of it what works for me and discard the rest. i try to be willing to try everything because sometimes i'm surprised by what is helpful. i do hope that others won't be too discouraged, but i think the dialogue is a good one as long as it's not looked at as too black and white (i.e. cameron is a goddess of creativity or a negative hack.)

at the same time, i admire your strong feelings and your abililty to know what works and doesn't work for you. i'm also very glad that the group itself is still helpful!!

((Hugs)) to you Caroline. I think you're fabulous.

oh, and now i have two comments to keep up your theme. :-)

Tinker said...

Sorry, Caroline - I didn't mean to disrupt the pattern in the matrix - hope this makes it better :-)

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Thanks for your comment on my place! :) I think I have fixed the "no feed" problem now. Thanks for letting me know. :)

As for the book, we (as in JC and me) will have to find our balance too. Not everything she says, not everything I say. ;) And I´m kicking and screaming on week 4, lol.

Caroline said...

Leah - you know me TOO well! Thanks for the hugs and fabulousness. xxx

Tinker - thank you - balance is much easier to maintain with 2 of each thing...

Paula - glad you are now followable on bloglines - I'm sure you'll find some good in there!

Anonymous said...

actually, I had a bit of a rant on paper reading JC the other night myself - so I can really REALLY appreciate where this is coming from! I had just been turned down by a gallery and then came to the page to read how poor JC was all pooped out and jet lagged from being in Paris and off her routine. Hmmm. Well. And her name dropping is annoying. And in the end I have to agree that The Artist's Way was great. But I love The Sound of Paper too, a recent book, even though it is pure Natalies Goldberg. Famous begets famous. I do love that it has me doing morning pages again, tho. =]

Caroline said...

Tammy Vitale - I'm a Natalie Goldberg fan and though I've got JCs Sound of Paper have not be drawn to reading it...

I like that there is a group and that we are exploring together - the energy is much greater because of it!

Anonymous said...

Aw well as usual Im a few days behind. Anyway, this post hit a cord with me. I just got done yesterday commenting on the FW blog how much I am NOT liking the book right now...You said it far better than I did but I just couldnt stomach any more negativity. I felt the last chapter and the current one is all about her 12 step stuff.

Any way not to rehash it I just thought it was...what did you call it "serendipitous" that I read your post today.
Ok, enough rambling!

Anonymous said...

wait it was...Synchronicities

Sigh, I'm tired.

Caroline said...

Hi The Painter Woman - things do move fast... and despite my feelings on staying with the group I've stopped and things are going so much better already!

Caroline said...

Melba - as you are a wise woman too that is a very great compliment - thank you.

I wish I'd seen that I would have to leave FW so soon after writing this... I'd feel a lot wiser if I had.