Being creative sounds like a lot of work. Keep in mind I’m an artist. I am also one who likes to plan, to strategize, and organize (read: INTJ Capricorn). Lets just say my passion and personality haven’t always seamlessly merged. I’ve always felt stuck in my head, trapped in an over-analytical mindset. Thinking and over-thinking everything, especially creative projects, can be torture.
A lot of advice given to me over the years has had something to do with listening to my heart. That all sounds good. But, what does it really mean? It has been an ongoing quest to understand what it means to live from the heart. I’ve tried contemplating it in great depths. That’s didn’t work. I’ve never really understood what it felt like; at least, not since before I can remember.
I have practiced meditation for a few years. At first, I imagined being able to turn off my thoughts in order to find peace. Then, I figured out that the magic was in just allowing the thoughts to exist without holding on to them. Essentially, freeing myself from the thoughts. Great! Never again would I be a slave to thinking. Wrong again. I didn’t get the immediate results I sought. It took practice, dedication, and it felt like work.
I first heard about saltwater float tanks from Joe Rogan’s podcast. People still called them “isolation tanks” then. It sounds a little scarier, but no less cool. Joe Rogan described it as a transcendent experience. Like meditation but better, more trippy. I wanted that. So I signed up for a membership as soon as I could. I would try three 90-minute sessions before deciding if I liked it or not.
My experience showed me evidence of something that I had only read about before: The body is the mind. I found that in floating, my mind could meditate, but so could my body. I no longer had to deal with gravity or balance or pressure while trying to chill out. What I experienced was a feeling of weightlessness; an effortless floating I haven’t known since being in the womb. In the stillness, all of the tension that had been hiding beneath the din of everyday life made its presence known. And it hurt. There was pain in my neck, back, and shoulders like I had slept on a 30 year-old couch. I knew that the best thing to do would be to just breathe and feel the pain. Listen to it and learn from it instead of resisting. Then, like transitioning from wakefulness to sleep, the pain subsided. In its place was something strangely unfamiliar: space.
If I stop resisting the current, I flow with it.
There was stillness in my mind. A spaciousness and silence that made me laugh like I had returned to my childhood playground. It hit me; if I stop struggling, I float. If I stop resisting the current, I flow with it.
I remembered that this Flow was something I knew. It wasn’t foreign or novel, just neglected. Space existed before the thoughts and the chaos. I felt safe in this familiar place. I could play here. The ideas didn’t need my struggle or exertion. They came to me. I only had to welcome them. And I could. I could let them in. There was plenty of room.
Floating is a teacher for me. And, what a fitting analogy for interacting with the creative current: something that can’t be seen. But it can be felt. And it exists just below the surface. The “work” that I had to do was making a decision to put myself in that space. Being honest with myself about what I wanted and what felt right. Letting go and allowing myself be guided to it. Hard work for a Capricorn like me.
About the author:
Anthony Pulitano is a painter and designer living in Asheville NC. Some of his inspirations include alchemy, elixir craft, and indigenous practices. His projects can be seen at www.anthonypulitano.com as well as www.behance.net/pulitano