Today’s blog post is from guest blogger, Liz Heichelbech. Thank you, Liz, for providing great insight.
Whole fields of research on the psychology of creativity focus on an individual’s ability to find relevant problems to solve. What a coincidence! So does your ego-mind, according to Eckhart Tolle and many other spiritual teachers. So step right up and pick a problem, any problem. Easy, right? Who doesn’t have a catalogue of choice problems about which to complain—I mean, problem-solve, right? So I was humbled when I discovered, much to my surprise, that this could be a challenge for me in using the OOTW online journaling tool.
I’m a long-time writer and journaler, and I’m used to doing Julia Cameron’s morning pages and other types of more free-form journaling. So in my case, I had to do a little work to narrow my topics down for the purpose of the OOTW journal format. For example, first I wrote about “Right Work.” I had a lot of thoughts, stories, and ideas going about what this should look and feel like. I dutifully wrote a small novella about it on OOTW, and then Dr. Pearlman asked me to narrow it down. I was confused, because I thought I already had narrowed it down. Dr. Pearlman helped me see that maybe I could just start with what was right in front of me: my current job. I followed a similar pattern when I chose to write about “relationships with family and friends.” Um, hello. How about a particular relationship? The old saying that, “The Devil is in the details,” may be true, but luckily, so is the opposite old saying that “God is in the details.” For better or for worse, I have a tendency to see the bigger picture and focus on themes, so even interacting with the simple Topic category helps me by teaching me to focus in on a detail. It also reiterates for me the lesson that, just as being in a whirlwind is a circular motion, so getting out of it might also involve circling back. The OOTW tool isn’t linear, and that is very good news. You can’t do it “wrong,” yet you can go back and make changes as you learn and get insights.
I believe that interacting with the topic category is an incredibly powerful first step. Something as seemingly insignificant as identifying a topic with which to journal, reframe, and transform one’s thinking is actually a sacred initiation. You aren’t just entering some letters into an online text box; you are also entering a sacred space. The ancient Greeks called it “temenos”—a designated place that was set aside for creative play, which they perceived to be a divine pursuit. Within this space, usually circular, one is free to experiment with one’s chosen materials. In this case, you are working with your thoughts. Simply putting down a life topic like “income” is like putting the first brush stroke onto a canvas, or a lump of clay onto a potter’s wheel. Imagine: that makes you an artist of your life, a divine creator.
Photo credit: edouardo at morguefile.com