Changing Habits Changing States

pencils in stainless steel bucket
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This week’s focus is on habits and states of mind. Sometimes we can get locked into a way of thinking and experiencing, or we find that a particular mood is difficult to shift and that gets in the way of our creativity and art practice. What can be useful to our artistic practice is to develop our skill in noticing when particular states of mind or practice are becoming habitual so that we can change them if it is beneficial to do so.

What can we do if we have realised that we may have established an unhelpful habit or mindset?

One way to change a habit is quite simply to do something completely different.  This may sound obvious and simple, but some habits can be deeply ingrained and may take some shifting. Change can also feel risky as we may be taking ourselves out of our comfort zone. What I have found can be useful is to begin a change with something that is low risk, to acclimatise ourselves with the experience of making change. So this might be something as simple as having a different choice of drink in the morning with breakfast. Then build up to more challenging changes with a greater risk associated with them.

A similar process applies to changing our mood. The action of doing something different to break out of an unhelpful mindset is a very useful one for artists as it can help us when we find ourselves in a place where we are being critical of our work or getting stuck. Another simple example would be I find myself feeling bored in the mornings taking my dogs on their morning walk. I will choose a different route I’ve not done for a while and I always find that I experience the walk differently. I’m always struck by how such a simple thing can bring a different experience and change in mood. So when you are locked into an unhelpful place with a piece of creative work doing something as simple as taking walk around the block can make a tremendous difference in your energy.

Here are a few ideas and options to liven up your studio practice and bring change to your working habits.  You could work outside for a few days.  Meet up with a fellow artist and share studio space for a day or so.  Completely rearrange your working space to give it a new feel.  Use some unfamiliar working materials.

When we give ourselves a new experience the old patterns of thinking can be disturbed and shift.  As you do this see what you notice. Is this an easier experience for you?  Do you feel liberated if so in what way?  How can you recreate this in your usual approach? Please do drop any thoughts and comments below I’d love to hear from you.

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