Permission, Practice And Coming Out Of Hiding

image: dan james

Whether you review your creative life and progress every day, every week, once a month or once a year, the process can be a very valuable one.

There are many different approaches, ranging from some with a detailed structure of questioning and analysis, to others far more loose and spontaneous.

In recent times I’ve moved away from the stricter, analytical, goal setting end, to a more fluid and organic way of checking in with where I am and where I’m heading.

Whilst I don’t very often sit down with pen and paper and write pages of words about what I’ve achieved and how they compare to my goals, I do make regular, specific time for my more gentle form of self review.

In fact, what I’ve found is that another valuable ritual in my life – my daily yoga practice – has evolved into the ideal time for such thinking.

When I started yoga, the intention was mostly to exercise and help my breathing and general sense of calm. Which it does continue to contribute to significantly.

What I’ve also found though is that whilst I’m on the mat, it gives me that space I need for my thoughts to settle and become more ordered, more comprehensible.

I have insights great and small whilst in yoga – ones that I may well not have if I was continually caught up in doing other things – even if those things are creative pursuits.

It comes down to two elements that I’ve often talked about with you here – permission, and daily practice.

Let’s look at them a little more.


By deciding on a daily practice of yoga (since Oct 1st 2010 I’ve practiced at least 20 mins every morning, on my 1000 days of yoga quest) it gives me permission to, well, just do the yoga.

By committing to just one thing, you in fact do yourself a much greater service – uncommitting yourself from everything else.

You give yourself permission to have that set short space of time to just do that one thing, and leave everything else outside the door until another time.

By having this space – which I would go as far as to call sacred space, such is it preciousness – it means that my mind is free to softly sift its jumbled contents.

It’s a bit like having a box of feathers of all different sizes and colours, throwing them into the sky then watching them land just where they want to around your feet. In slow motion.

For example, I wrote most of this post this morning during my yoga. Not every word of course, but the title and a sketched outline.

If I’d have been busy doing other things, I wouldn’t have had that space and quiet to let the thoughts form as they wanted to. Or in other words I wouldn’t have been able to give those thoughts permission to exist.

Daily Practice

By committing to a daily practice of anything, we very soon reach a point where we don’t think about doing it anymore.

The doing transcends the thinking about doing, and any internal mental tussles are completely bypassed.

(Imagine how freeing that feels – to not have endless debates around whether you should create today or not, but instead just getting on and doing it..)

My daily yoga practice isn’t something that itself is obviously, directly creative, but the fact that it’s a daily practice gives me great strength and confidence that I can add other activities to this anchor habit, and build stacks of habits.

Again, stacks are something I’ve spoken of before here and something you can explore in the archives if you wish to.

There are bound to already be daily (or even more frequent) activities in your life.

Sleeping, eating and breathing are three fundamentals that we all do and all need to do to remain alive and well.

Whilst I wouldn’t die without a daily yoga practice, it has reached that level of doing without thinking that sleeping, eating and breathing also have in my life.

You might of course have some regular habits that aren’t so beneficial to you.

The first step is to become aware of such habits, honestly question how well (or not) they are serving your life and your creativity, then make the decision to drop them if need be.

Or, even better, to replace them with another habit that will benefit you.

Habits are habits – on a fundamental level they are all the same – something you do regularly without thinking.

This proves you are more than capable of forming strong habits. So, being such a master of habit, you can just as easily choose to allocate them to activities that will improve and enhance your life.

So, coming back to where we started this conversation – reviewing our creative lives.

What I’ve found come to the fore over recent weeks of pondering, is the realisation that I’ve retreated somewhat over the last year.

I used to be far more “visible”, both online and off, and currently do fewer activities in any kind of public gaze.

Whilst I like this and it works for me in many ways, the casualty is that other people lose out.

Yes, saying something like “by hiding myself away other people are losing out on appreciating and benefitting from my skills and talents” may sound rather egotistical.

But we’ll just have to accept that and get over it won’t we!

I remember reading something online years ago that remains one of the most powerful and memorable statements I’ve ever heard, online or off.

To paraphrase – “There are more people in the world who need to hear your unique voice, and enjoy your unique work and talents (and who can’t possibly hear or enjoy the same thing from anyone else) than you can ever reach in your lifetime…”

Maybe a shorter way of saying this would be something like –

“We each have an infinite, hungry audience waiting… Go feed them…”

So my next plan is to consider some of the ways I can be more visible again and reach out to more people in the coming months.

To find ways to come out of hiding, and honour those people that benefit from what I say and how I say it, both as a creativity coach, and as an artist, specifically as a photographer.

I’m ready to stop shying away and take a few small yet confident steps out of hiding.

Of course, we need your voice and your work at least as much.

So how are you going to join me and do the same?


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