November 24th, 2014
Recently, I left my cozy nest and traveled to the Greek Islands. Santorini stood out in particular. It is an intoxicating mix of light, Cycladic architecture, aegean-blue water, and volcanic mystery. Because it is a special spot on planet earth, throngs of tourists visit each year making it a very busy place. The luxury hotels are gobsmacking. Entrepreneurs are opening new stores and restaurants each season, but in reality, Santorini is the caldera for most visitors. Helicopter tours fly over in regular intervals. During high season, tourists from cruise ships run to see Santorini sunsets from the best vantage points on the caldera. I got caught up in the lemming frenzy on my first day. It takes over the island.
One place on Santorini seemed different from the tourist usual by its other worldly appearance. I felt it. Something unique was going on in there. To satisfy my curiosity, I stepped inside the workshop which is a whitewashed, cave dwelling organic to Santorini. Right away, it seemed like a sacred space, a room with a view of the sea. The outside light illuminated the stone walls of the cave which were lined with Byzantine, Russian inspired art. The pieces are painted using oil and egg tempera on antique panels and doors. The gold leaf of the icons shimmered in the natural light transporting me to a higher plane. Art and sacred places make my spirit travel. I asked the artist, Dimitris Koliousis, about his workshop. It has been his art space since 1978. Even though Santorini is increasingly affected by the tourism footprint, his workshop on the caldera still keeps him there. I think it transports him too. It is a Zen-like place that is a clear channel for his creativity.
Dimitris Koliousis is not the only artist who needs a Zen-like place for creativity. In a recent New York Times video called In the Studio with Vera Wang, Ms. Wang describes the monochromatic space with Feng Shui elements right off her studio. It is her haven/disco/mental hospital. It is an office that she can retire to from the hands-on intensity of her studio. It clears her head and prepares her for the insanity of her work. What is you Zen space?
September 15th, 2014
As you can tell, I believe in taking grand or not-so-grand tours. Exploring unfamiliar destinations has a direct impact on my thinking. I bring back creative ideas as well as a new way of looking at the world. I don’t hesitate to leave my comfortable nest. Traveling is transformative for me.
Carolina Herrera believes in travel too. According to her recent video posted in The New York Times, Ms. Herrera found inspiration in Greece, England, and Italy for her Spring/Summer 2015 collection. While enjoying a July sojourn, she looked with wide eyes for new influences from clothes, to colors, to situations. A particular tulip caught her gaze. Check out her new video to see how a nature’s flower informed the color code of that collection. Her creativity inspires me. What about you?
September 15th, 2014
Proprioception is a term in neurophysiology. It means self-perception. Most of us have a good sense of what it means when we think of sports. Athletes are beautiful to watch in terms of their physical control, coordination, and dexterity. They have awareness or self-perception of their movement. There is an abundance of programs at all levels to increase proprioception in athletes. The NFL, NBA, and PGA have their training camps. Colleges have huge programs. Let’s not forget youth football, soccer and Little League. For kids aspiring to be the next Michael Phelps or Gabby Douglas, sophisticated help is out there.
When it comes to proprioception of thought which is a gateway to creativity, training camps and programs are harder to find. Where do we go to learn about the flow thought? How do we become aware of assumptions, intentions and results of thinking that could block our natural creativity? Here is a Projectionist Exercise that I ran across in a class on dialogue. It can help build proprioception-of-thought muscles.
Projectionist Exercise (from Macy Holdings, Inc. and adapted from work of Steve and Connirae Andreas, NLP of Colorado)
- Think of an assumption you hold that you’d like to understand more fully. Have it clearly in mind before you begin the exercise.
- Make a quick assessment of the assumption. If it’s one that has a lot of baggage attached to it, go immediately to the projectionist’s room upstairs overlooking the theater.
- Notice that in the projectionist’s room, s/he has all sorts of gadgets. Try playing with them to mute the intensity of the emotions that are associated with the assumption to a level that is easily tolerable. Here are a few options:
- Make the movie into black and white;
- Leave it in color but mute the intensity of the color;
- Turn down or off the sound;
- Play the movie from the end to the start instead of from start to the end;
- Make the picture smaller on the screen.
- If the intensity associated with the assumption is ok, picture yourself seated in a theater, near the back. As the movie starts you see that it is a full technicolor and surround sound version of your assumption as it tends to play out in real life situations. Watch it from start to finish, noting your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, judgments, and anything else that comes up in response to the movie.
- After you’ve watched the movie from either the back of the theater or from the projectionist’s room, consider what you’ve observed. What have you learned by watching your assumption in action?
- If you could wave your magic wand, how might you re-script the assumption movie so that you really like how it plays and how you respond to it?
- Play that re-scripted movie and tweak it till you really like it. Then you might want to go back up to the projectionist’s room and use all those gadgets to get the right intensity of color, sound, etc.
- Play it again, this time, if you want, you could imagine yourself being an actor in the movie (preferably you playing yourself) and actually step into the action on screen. Play it through several times till you really get the feel of it.
- When will that assumption likely come up in real life? Picture a scene when it will likely come up and picture yourself interacting in that scene with the tweaked assumption from the movie forming your response.