Week 4 of The Artist’s Way is “reading deprivation” week. It was called “reading deprivation” in the early 90s when the book was written, but the world has evolved and now it is a full blown “media deprivation.” No reading, no TV, no movies, no newspapers, no social media, no podcasts, no blog posts, no internet surfing, and limited e-mail and texting. (If you have a job, you can work.)
Why would one do this, you ask? All of it? At one time?
The theory is that this noise is drowning out our own thoughts. The intent of The Artist’s Way is to uncover “blocked creativity” and our creative ideas have a harder time coming to the surface when your brain is drowning in information. All of this reading and consuming stuff can be one of the many ways we hide from ourselves. In Julia Cameron’s words…
We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook something up of our own.
When I got to this assignment, I made excuses about why this was not a great time to do it, and I put it off. I went on a business trip and spent the week reading, listening to podcasts, and posting about my travels on Instagram. But in the back of my mind, this “media deprivation” was calling to me. I was craving it and dreading it at the same time.
At the end of the week, which happened to be February 1st, I had dinner with a friend who mentioned an astrology web site that had given her a very accurate January horoscope. When I got home, I checked out my February scope which said…
The new moon of February 4th has you hunkering down in solitude to work on your strategy for 2019. Pisces does their best work when alone so carve out time to think, dream, draw, take notes, and plan…..whatever your aim, being alone will bring beautiful, thoughtful results. – Susan Miller
I took this as a clear sign that THIS was my week to tune out the world and tune in to myself. I kicked off my “media deprivation” week the next day, and by the new moon on February 4th, I was well in to my week of solitude.
I did get sick on day one. (Not a surprise after four plane rides in two weeks.) I decided it was a test from the Universe. “Are you serious about this? Cuz I am going to make it REALLY hard for you not to turn on that TV and veg out, just to be sure you mean business.”
Well, the Universe should know that when I say I am going to do something, I (almost) always do it. I felt like shit for a few days, but I did not break! When I was soooo tired and all I wanted to do was turn on the TV, I just went to bed. I got A LOT of sleep!
With Sudafed and coffee to keep me going, I did actually get a lot of things done. I caught up on my Artist’s Way exercises. I called my parents. I cooked (twice)! I read my sister’s birth chart, which I had been putting off for months. (This was my one “reading” exception because I really wanted to knock this out.) I had a drink with a friend I had not seen in years. I was much more focused at work without the temptation of picking up my phone or flipping over to Facebook or reading the news.
Did the deprivation spark my creativity? Well, I did spend a lot of time on this vision board. (If you don’t know what a vision board is, read more here.)
This was a project I had already planned for the week, and then it turned out to be exactly what my horoscope told me to work on…”hunker down in solitude to work on your strategy for 2019… carve out time to think, dream, draw, take notes, and plan” Hello! Vision board for 2019!
It was a delicate dance in the bookstore to find magazines for this project without actually reading anything, but I pulled it off! I spent hours picking out images and arranging and rearranging them on the page before I pulled out my glue stick and put it all together.
I love how it turned out. I managed to fill it up using mostly the magazines I intuitively selected for this purpose. I did print out a picture of Josh Radnor because I think he is the bomb and if I can call him in in 2019, then I will know I have truly stepped in to my spiritual power. It also includes a washing machine with a portal to an “other world” (score for intuitively selecting a magazine that had that image in it!)
Would my vision board have been this awesome if I had not shut off all media which gave me extra hours to hunker down and do it? Who knows? Will it be more powerful because I created it in solitude on the new moon in Aquarius? How could it not be? We can circle back at the end of the year to see how much I end up manifesting for myself in 2019. (If I call in Josh Radnor, you will hear about it way before then.)
In some ways, the “media deprivation” was like a week-long meditation. I paid attention every time I would normally pick up my phone and didn’t. I paid attention every time I thought I should take a picture to share on Instagram and didn’t. I stopped thinking about cool hash tags for my life, and just experienced it.
I felt like I was in a bubble of silence. Even when I was with people, it felt like I was in seclusion because I have become so used to this other layer of digital connection. I didn’t really miss the news or TV or podcasts or reading books. But I missed the connection to my extended community. As an introvert, it would exhaust me to physically interact with lots of people all the time. But I like knowing what people are up to from a distance and I like them knowing what I am up to. But I also really liked the quiet of stepping away from it all.
The intent was to encourage you to tune in to your thoughts. I am not a person who runs away from my thoughts. I am a person who is more in my head that I should be. I personally think I need a mix of being alone with my own thoughts and being inspired by other people’s ideas to be creative. That was a key learning for me this week. I can do without the junk that fills my brain like empty calories, but the real quality stuff that I consume enhances my life, and my creativity.
My week is up. I have made it thought seven days, but I find myself resisting turning it all back on. I have this image in my mind of emerging from a dark cave in to a bright sunny day and the light is so overwhelming that you have to block your eyes from the sun.
I will ease my way back in to it with sunglasses on and try to continue with LESS of it all (especially those empty calories!) Perhaps a weekly re-set is in order to remind of the beauty of this silence.
I highly recommend this detox for everyone. It’s hard core, but you will learn something about yourself if you dive in and give it a shot. I promise!