This quote by abstract artist Richard Serra is one of my all-time favorite quotes. One reason, is that it applies to so much more than making art. Anytime you want to create change in your life, business, relationships or even the way you decorate your house, this quote is a great reminder that if you want different results you need to see things differently.
Did you know that in most science research, if a scientist doesn’t have a major discovery by their mid-thirties, the chances of them doing so drop significantly? It isn’t that they become less brilliant when they turn 30 but rather, they begin accepting that the way they are doing things is the correct way. They stop questioning everything for expediency in the work environment. If everyone agrees on a basic set of rules (traditions), then they can move forward faster. Or so it seems.
Seeing and doing things differently is often easier said than done. Just how do you manage to look at your problems, practices and daily patterns and see a different way to be? In reality, this is a left-brain/right-brain dilemma. The left hemisphere of the brain is all about streamlining and efficiency…get the task done. The right hemisphere is more about connections and big picture thinking. Unfortunately, the right hemisphere doesn’t have language at its disposal so while it is the side that develops the big ideas, if the left hemisphere isn’t paying attention, that big idea just sits in the corner waiting to be noticed. This is a huge simplification of the processes of course but the key point is that we all thrive when we allow space for our right hemisphere to share its knowledge with the left.
Fortunately, there are two great ways to give that wonderful right hemisphere the time and space it needs to join the conversation. Art and meditation! Meditation can be done at home or out in nature walking. You just need quiet and no distractions. We often think that meditation is about emptying our mind of chatter but that isn’t really possible. It is about ignoring the brain chatter and letting it simply drift out of our awareness while we concentrate on our breath or putting one foot in front of the other.
Art often sounds scary to those who don’t practice it regularly but it isn’t about drawing, creating or making a specific ‘thing’. It is rather the same practice of ignoring the brain chatter and letting the right hemisphere have the reins.
The Stitch Meditation process that I have developed, combines creativity and meditation; a moving meditation utilizing stitch. I have a video you can watch that explains the entire process but it boils down to letting each stitch become a focus much like your breath in traditional meditation. This process is easy to begin, most people have done a basic running stitch at some point in their lives and even if they haven’t it is learned in 5 seconds. There is only one rule: you can’t take a stitch out. The desire to create perfectly is a left hemisphere desire and doesn’t belong here.
I spend about 20 minutes each morning in my stitch mediation practice. After 7 years, I can’t imagine starting my day in a different way. Not because I am simply in the habit or pattern of this practice but because it changes who I am. Any frantic thoughts crowding my brain in the morning evaporate and I start my day in a relaxed focus state ready to deal with all the tasks of the day with a fresh perspective and open to new ways of seeing them.
This month celebrate your right hemisphere and give it some room to be. Try a Stitch Meditation or sit quietly out in nature for 15 minutes and focus on your breathing. It can change your life!