The other day a writer friend and I were commiserating over the writing life. That’s the thing about a writers and other artists; our very lifestyle seems to require daily commiserating, which is why I refer to my writing as a “practice.” Our topic of commiseration this time around was how to get a collaborative project off the ground when your collaborators aren’t, well, collaborating? My writer friends–especially the freelance journalists–are constantly relying on editors, fact checkers, agents, interview subjects and proofreaders to help usher their work to the printed page. My musician friends rely on agents, producers, booking agents, publicists, distributors and–have mercy on us–other musicians to help get their albums out into the hands–and ears–of listeners. What I’m saying is nothing new. All of us, as aspiring humans on this busy planet, are or should be relying on one another to a certain extent. But my artist friends often ask: what do you do if you have what you feel is an inspired idea, and you pitch it to some “person of power” such as an editor or agent, and that person simply doesn’t respond?
Well, the first answer is the obvious one, which is that people are busy. Which seems like an understatement at this point in time. In fact, we should come up with a new word for “busy.” (Perhaps someone already has come up with this new word, and I have been simply too busy to notice.) Secondly, we don’t know what is holding other people up in terms of their own inaction. We don’t know what obstacles they are currently facing. It could be the planets; it could be or the seasons–many people I know, for instance, don’t really produce in the winter, so I don’t even approach them until all the leaves on all the trees have unfurled in spring. It could be that your colleague is simply having a bad day. I always think of that quote attributed to Philo of Alexandria: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” The best thing we can do for someone who doesn’t respond is to have compassion for him or her. Our compassion and patience could very well help them overcome their own obstacles.
Yogi Bhajan said: “If you have no patience of your own self, you have nothing. Your trouble lies when you find your anchor outside of you.”
Ah, yes, patience. I constantly have to remind myself that my creative work is not necessarily about me; that is actually belongs to the universe, from where it came, and to where it shall return. This attitude not only eases the burden of having to “produce” all the time (a common ailment for those of us raised with the Christian Work Ethic); it also ensures that when you do produce you produce more authentic and higher quality work. As long as we, as artists, can stay centered and offer our creative work to God, or to the universe, or, as our Buddhist friends say, for “the benefit of all sentient beings,” then things like timing seem to matter less. Because you start to realize–or rather, to remember–that everything is actually happening according to Divine Timing. And you can either align yourself with that Divine Timing and relax, or you can choose to freak out about the fact that so-and-so hasn’t responded to your query, and not relax. Either way, the Divine Plan will unfold accordingly.
So how does one practice patience? Fortunately, the system of Kundalini Yoga offers us lots of options.
Practice Shuni Mudra – The Seal of Patience
The first option is simple, easy and direct. Known as the “Seal of Patience,” the Shuni Mudra is formed by pressing the tips of the thumb and the middle finger together. The middle finger is said to be associated with the planet Saturn, and Saturn as known as “the task master.” In that sense, Shuni mudra “takes us to task” by helping us establish a connection to our own sense of courage, and enabling us to take responsibility with dignity. Practicing Shuni mudra cultivates patience, discernment, and commitment, which are all essential qualities to cultivate in this busy, collaborative effort called life.
So next time you’re at some board meeting, and find yourself seething with impatience at something your colleague is or is not contributing to your collaborative project, stop, breath, catch yourself, and hold Shuni Mudra under the table. Within seconds, you’ll find the energy around this project–and your associations with it–start to shift.
Chant Humki Hovan – The Second Pauri of Japji
Another very effective way to cultivate patience is to chant Hukmi Hovan (The 2nd Pauri of Japji), written about here in thorough, profound detail by the excellent teacher Ramdesh Kaur. Simply chanting this Pauri eleven times as a mantra can help cultivate–and sustain–patience and stability, because each verse reminds us that everything is happening according to divine timing and divine will. The last lines of this Pauri say it all: “When you understand God’s will/All thoughts of self depart.”
I enjoy chanting along to Mata Mandir Singh’s version on his Japji Double Album CD. His folky, relaxed delivery is perfect for newer students of Gurmukhi like myself who wish to refine their pronunciation.
Listen to the Masters
Another simple yet direct way to cultivate patience is to listen to Yogi Bhajan’s spoken-word track “Patience Pays.” Just hearing this master teacher’s soothing, no-nonsense voice is enough to quiet my worry-mind and realign me with my higher self (and mind). So before you send off that impatient email, passive/aggressively berating a colleague for not responding to your previous impatient email, remember Yogi Bhajan’s words: “Wait, have patience, lean on Him; then all best things will come to you.”
CULTIVATE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Creative collaboration requires precise communication; the thing is, many of the artists I know and love aren’t as skilled communicating with mere words as they are with music or painting or dance. The following simple techniques will help.
Buddhi Mudra to Open Up Blockages in Communication
Known as the “Seal of Mental Clarity,” the Buddhi Mudra is formed by pressing the tips of the thumb and the pinky finger together. The pinky finger is said to be associated with the planet Mercury, and Mercury, as the mythological “swift messenger,” helps us communicate clearly and effectively. Buddhi Mudra also enhances our intuitive and mental powers, enabling us to make quick and wise decisions.
I actually, out of habit, always hold Buddhi Mudra when I am speaking on the telephone. I’m not sure this is the sort of thing they’d teach us in yoga class, but I find that I find that after just a few minutes of practicing Buddhi Mudra I am guided to do and say the right things. An extra bonus: Those of us old-schoolers who haven’t mastered the two-handed texting technique suddenly find ourselves at an advantage, because we can text with one hand and hold Buddhi Mudra with the other.
A thorough explanation of Buddhi and Shuni mudras can be found in the manual Infinity And Me.
GRACE OF GOD MEDITATION FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
One of the many wonderful things about this meditation is: you get to do it lying down! According to YogiBhajan.org, “this meditation is designed to evoke and manifest the inner grace, strength, and radiance of each woman. It helps her to tune in directly with the Adi Shakti, the Primal Power within her own being. It empowers a woman to channel her emotions in a positive direction, strengthen her weaknesses, develop mental clarity and effective communication, and gives her the patience to go through the tests of her own karma. By practicing this meditation, a woman’s thoughts, behavior, personality, and projection become aligned with the Infinite beauty and nobility unveiled by the mantra.” In other words, this meditation raises your vibration and consciouness to the point where you have no choice but to communicate effectively, with the Grace of God. I’d add that this mantra is excellent for those who worry themselves into insomnia.
For Part 1:
Lie on your back with eyes closed, then:
a) Inhale deeply, hold the breath, and silently repeat the mantra: “I AM THE GRACE OF GOD*” ten (10) times
b) Exhale, hold the breath out, and again silently repeat the mantra 10 times
c) Continue this cycle for a total of five inhalations and five exhalations.
*Note: Men should recite “I AM IN THE GRACE OF GOD”
For Part II:
Keeping the eyes closed, bring yourself into easy pose.
Rest the right hand on the right knee, bringing the right hand into Gyan Mudra.
Raise the left hand at the left shoulder in the “vow” position, with palm flat and facing forward.
Then begin to tense each finger of the left hand one by one, beginning with the little finger and ending with the thumb. As you tense each finger, repeat the mantra out loud five times, while at the same time meditating on the governing energy of each finger. You’ll be repeating the mantra a total of 25 times, for the four fingers and one thumb.
To finish, simply relax, breath deeply, and quietly enjoy the benefits. Note that this meditation should be done on an empty stomach.
Another excellent book on the science of mudras is Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi
THE ADI SHAKTI MEDITATION FOR VITALITY
This simple but powerful meditation is an excellent way to connect with one’s innate creative power and primordial feminine energy (which happen to be one and the same). According to Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini Bhakti Mantra, also known as the Adi Shakti mantra, will “help you be free of the insecurities which block freedom of action. By meditating on [Adi Shakti] one can obtain a deeper understanding of the constant interplay between the manifest and the unmanifest qualities of the cosmos and consciousness.” Yogi Bhajan also said that “When a woman chants the Kundalini Bhakti mantra, God clears the way.” So in other words, this mantra and meditation will not only get your creative juices flowing; it will also help clear the inner and outer obstacles that might be preventing you from allowing your creative works to manifest.
This meditation can be found in the excellent (and essential) book: “I AM A WOMAN: ESSENTIAL KRIYAS FOR WOMEN IN THE AQUARIAN AGE/Kundalini Yoga As Taught By Yogi Bhajan”
Here’s a soothing version of the Adi Shakti Mantra for your home practice, from Nirinjan Kaur’s album “Meditation for Transformation: Restoring Your Personal Power.”
And, as luck would have it (speaking of Divine Timing), this was just the very meditation will be featured in Spirit Voyage’s 40 Day Global Sadhana! All the more reason to do it now, and tap into the creative flow of spring.
I’ll leave you all with this quote from Yogi Bhajan:
“Creativity is not how clever or calm, manipulative or emotional you are. Creativity has nothing to do with how much you have studied or how illiterate you are, how learned or unlearned you are. Creativity is a quality of the human being as basic as Godhood and it depends on the individual commitment.”