May 9, 2015

The Artist & Surrender in the Great Work

The Artist

The practice of Reiki is based on surrender. We’ve already talked about the importance of this concept, but let me sum it up in a way that applies specifically to arts and performance.

When involved in a process of self-discovery we often find ourselves slamming against the wall of Fear.

In other words, we want to see, know, express and communicate who we are but we don’t realize that our field of vision is limited: a deep fear has created a “cone” that only allows us to see what our Ego deems acceptable, and turns us blind to everything else.

In our first few years of life we develop a subconscious understanding of the world based on a series of values and beliefs; this creates our Ego as a system of survival that filters experience judging it as either something that enforces the system itself, or is a threat to it.

For example: I grew up with divorced parents, my dad left when I was very little. As a rational, empathic person I can understand that my parents were young, they did the best they could, they both loved me very much.

None of this matters: the psyche of a child is a purely emotional reality that is completely self-involved, meaning it has no rational awareness of any dynamic going on around it, and so it absorbs everything that happens as a direct cause of its existence: and so my dad leaving is, emotionally and subconsciously, my fault; my presence in the world upset a situation and created pain and drama for me and for people around me. It is therefore my imperative to be responsible, be in control, make sure everything and everyone is okay; this becomes people-pleasing, manipulation; this becomes what my survival is based on, it becomes the only way I know to exist and relate in the world.

It also comes with a crippling certainty of not being enough, of not being welcome in the world, of having to take up no space and disappear.

Because of this “self-sacrifice”, also other feelings are triggered, like a deep yearning to be seen, to be appreciated.

The more I act out my survival strategy, the more my beliefs about myself and the world become ingrained. If unchecked, this will make my life an unstable pendulum swinging from arrogance, ego and self-involvement to endemic insecurity, hopeless self-loathing, even self-destruction. In relationships, I will look for someone to fix; the more I people-please, feel responsible, manipulate, the more pleasure and success I get from showing the sides of me I believe others want to see and above all that I want to show, the more I will subconsciously believe that I am disgusting, that at my core I am worthless and hideous; I will believe deep down that I am a nuisance and I’m only getting ahead because I’m tricking everyone (and myself) into not seeing the parts of me that are bound to cause pain, to leave me feeling alone and helpless – so I will look for people that can’t accept me completely, I will look for conditional love, because that’s what I’m giving myself and what I know and believe to be the truth: and of course I’ll find that, which will reinforce my fears, and make my behaviors even more ingrained.

So, back to surrender.

Everything that comes from our so-called rationality is something determined by this system, and has the sole purpose of getting us to go on and build an identity that make us believe that fear doesn’t exist. It is however a reaction: everything we build that comes from that place is in reaction, it knows no peace or grounding, and its true purpose is not to make us happy or safe or connected, but to distract us from ourselves.

Surrender is awesome because it stops the spinning wheel. It says: hey, you know what? I’m not gonna live my life avoiding fear; all that I believe, deep down, subconsciously, about myself, is the pre-rational belief system created by a child with no understanding of the world – I’m still implementing those beliefs, I’ve made them the cornerstones of my existence; but I’m not a child anymore, I’m ready to go through that trauma and live through it with the support of my awareness, my peers, with the tools and experience I’ve accumulated through the years.

With surrender we allow in our cone of vision something that is not filtered by our Ego. We create space: where the Ego judges and lets in only things that reiterate its purpose, surrender suspends judgment in favor of acceptance.

While the Ego struggles to make us categorize, approve, attack what happens around us and even our own emotions, through surrender we can see where those events and emotions want to take us, and we can see they take us at the core of who we are. They take us back to those original traumas, which is scary and extremely painful, but it’s also a real chance to move past a limited scope of vision and scope of action – in fact, it’s a chance to act freely instead of reacting to fear, believing we’re making our own decisions.

Reiki, being based on surrender, is a gentle way to get acquainted with the truth of who we are: yes, at first we might be confronted with the fear of who we are, but thanks to the unconditional love and openness of both the Practitioner and the Practice itself, this will be explored in a safe environment that emphasizes nurture, support and connection.

How does this applies to the arts?

If I’m driven by any kind of fear, then my intent as an artist would be to show you who I am, but really it will end up being me showing you a)who I want to be(as a reaction to what I’m afraid of), b)what I think I should be, c)what I think you want me to be or what you want to see, and my art will be an idea – meaning something grounded not in the reality of an emotion, a feeling, a state of being, but based on a projection.

This is not to say that something coming out of ego can’t or won’t be appreciated, or even become successful. It’s just to say that anything coming out of that is coming our of our lower self, and that always implies a “deal with the devil”: this is just not worth it to me, and I wouldn’t wish it for anyone.

I believe that – since there is little way of knowing for sure how something is gonna be received, and even if there were it would still be a form of manipulation based on an attempt to control others – the best we can do is express what we are, because the truth is the only thing worth saying. If we have been doing our work, the message will be one of love and it will take us closer to the Light – not to mention help others toward the same. Then we will have learned about ourselves and honored the Truth of who we are, becoming more free, grounded, connected and loving.

A lot of us want to inspire, communicate, help people evolve and get in touch with who they are: but how can we do that if we, ourselves, are basing our art – and our identity – on reacting to fear, on rejecting reality because it doesn’t fit the idea of what we think we should be in order to survive and thrive in the world? Or if we’re telling the truth, but it’s not the Truth of who we are, it’s the lies we’ve come to believe because of our pain and failure to let the truth of Love embrace us?

Often we want to heal, inspire, move others because deep down we hope it will give us a sense of peace and purpose. It will make us feel fulfilled. It will makes us at peace and remove the gnawing anxiety and constant thorn of fear. Unfortunately, that’s just another way of putting peace outside of us, trying to reach it, and beating ourselves up when we don’t; or spiraling into depression, anger, self-destruction when we do reach it, and find ourselves still living in the same fear. That happens because the ego-system doesn’t create a solution, it creates a distraction dressed up as a solution; it tells us it wants us to be fulfilled, but really it just want us to not address the truth of who we are.

Hey, even in terms of market success: what’s more bankable than the one thing we all share? But seriously: every time we create (and exist) out of a place of fear, most of our efforts are dissipated running away, avoiding, building around something. And still we achieve great things, even with all this energy wasted. Can you imagine how effortless and joyous and overall awesome it would be to just be and create?