Have you ever had this experience? You're doing something you love; painting, dancing, playing sports, when you suddenly realize your internal dialog has shut down and nothing exists except for your focus on an act of creation. This is the flow state, when creative force flows directly through us, unfiltered, into the world.
Artists, athletes, scientists, engineers, all describe the experience of creative transcendence; a moment, a month, or a year, when they created something sublimely beautiful, surpassed prior physical limitations, found the answer to a perplexing riddle or solved a design problem in a moment of technical genius.
While we are in creative flow it feels almost as if we are detached from what we are doing - there is no planning or fore-thought, and yet there is complete, almost intense awareness of everything going on around us. There is a sense of focus, competence, skill, insightful intelligence and frequently, feelings of deep peace. What is going on here? Where does such inspiration come from? Where does creativity come from?
Creation is something no one can avoid. In Sanskrit "karma" means "action","doing" or "energy". Many people in the west misunderstand the idea of karma and use the word to denote something like retribution for our misdeeds or reward for our acts of kindness. But "karma" embodies a broader philosophical idea; that each of us is simply a momentary point of view; an expression of God, and that every act, every thought, every word of our lives - whether intended or not, whether we act upon them or not - is an energetic act; an act of creation. Our lives and everything within them is karma/creation.
I am intrigued by the intersection of these ideas - karma and flow state. As a student of Tao/Buddha/Vedanta/Zen my ongoing practice is to focus on life in the present moment, to pay attention to now and to notice what I am creating within it. The central idea is that what is important is not what my future goals are but how I live now, in this moment and in each subsequent moment as it appears. Focusing on the present moment, quieting thoughts of past and future also brings us to a state of deeply insightful intelligence where solutions and ideas appear effortlessly...in short; creative flow state. Living life as an "artist" is the essence of Zen.
I have always thought of the "good life" as synonymous with "a beautiful life", I have pursued beauty relentlessly; as a dancer through my teens and into my twenties. I pursued a career in designer fashion for more than twenty years. I have worked tirelessly to create beauty in the environments where I live. I am a writer who loves to craft a beautiful phrase, an explorer in the world of fine art, and now I am co-founder of a business dedicated to art and artists.
If karma dictates that all acts are creative and my life is a moment-to moment expression of my quest for beauty am I not therefore also an "artist" of life?
And if each moment is my life art, can I also exist in a more-or-less permanent state of creative flow? Would that mean that I live each moment in a highly-focused state of intelligent, insightful, skillful, creative action accompanied by feelings of deep peace?
So here is where I am now on my own journey-that-never-ends; exploring the flow state, the art of each moment and what that means in the world today. I am exploring how these ideas interact with society, politics, environmental issues, culture, work and lifestyle. They involve a radical shift away from goal-orientation: "what can I get in the future?" to, "what is the right action right now?"; from thinking that fulfillment lies somewhere on the road ahead, to realizing that each moment is an experience of life that can only be lived in the present. So how, practically speaking, does one live as an artist in the moment? Come along and explore with me....
Collette is a traveler, writer, stylist and branding consultant... After twenty-five years in the designer fashion industry, working for Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, she took a sabbatical and wandered away into the wide world to find adventure, to explore, meditate and learn. For a year she traveled alone; a container ship ride across the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan, China and Hong Kong; ferries and trains, busses and planes across Southeast Asia and Australia; eight days sitting in silence at the feet of Mooji; advaita Vedantist spiritual teacher; living and traveling for two months in Spain while studying Spanish -- which she hopes someday to master.
Returning to the US, Collette settled in Providence where, attracted by the beauty of the city, the miles of Rhode Island coastline and the crazy art vibe, she hopes to contribute to what she believes is a developing urban renaissance. In addition to 'finding her cool', she is currently a style consultant, freelance writer gathering new stories from life and the art around her and working on a full length book about her journey.