The Sense Awareness Ritual:
How mindfulness helps you create

by Halli Bourne


Description of the exercise

When imagination runs amok …

Among the numerous many strengths we creative people possess is our ability to imagine. We can create whole worlds from snippets from overheard conversations, transform a familiar object into a fresh and surprising landscape, romanticize the changing of the seasons, and influence how we see ourselves through our creations.

The down side of this ability, however, is the tendency to catastrophize and imagine worst-case scenarios, creating anxiety for ourselves and frustrating our work. If this happens when we’re approaching a creative project, we can slide into judging ourselves for not measuring up, prioritizing the needs of others above our need to create, and so become consumed with indecision and apprehension.

Learning to pay attention

When the my mind gets hijacked by self-doubt, criticism, and perfectionism, I use this Sense Awareness Ritual to help the frazzled creative tune back into the present moment and find inspiration through the senses.

By shifting my awareness toward each of the senses and to my physical sensations, I become less anxious and more anxiety is calmed and the creative becomes focused on the simplicity of just paying attention with detachment and curiosity. This allows for seeing the familiar problems with a novel from a brand-new, expanded perspective, and I come out of the experience with a ravenous creativity.

I’ve also seen the power of this deceptively simple exercise in many of my clients’ creative lives. By describing the steps in detail below, I hope to bring this same ritual to everyone who’s interested in learning it.
How you use it in session

The Sense Awareness Ritual

Getting ready

You can use this exercise as a preparation ritual any time you intend to create something. Think of it as a preparation ritual, so it works optimally if you’re in the space where you will be creating. Eliminate as many distractions as possible. and withdraw into a place you find soothing and safe. This is a time you devote to yourself, with special attention to the importance for your need to create. Imagine you are erecting an imaginary protective barrier between yourself and all that you’re distracted by, everything that’s distracting you, and your soul’s call for you to create. The world and your responsibilities will always be there. Right now, you’re You are making a decision here to tune in and listen to your soul’s call for creativity the voice too often recessed, but imploring you to listen all the same. Claim your role as a creator, and resolve to remove any obstacles preventing you from creating in your way.

You can perform this exercise either sitting up or lying down. You can read through the ritual first and then take yourself through it, or you can record it yourself describing the steps beforehand. avoiding Avoid any background music, since listening to the sounds in your environment is an important part of the ritual. It can be tempting to fuss over the details of setting up for this practice, —but that’s just a sneaky way to avoid getting being present and get to creating, so watch out for this and commit yourself fully to this time.

Set up your space for creation workspace ahead of time so you can go transition directly from this ritual into your creating.

The Sense Awareness Ritual

How it’s done

Make yourself comfortable. Get Be still and quiet. You’ll be working with directing your senses here in specific ways. Let go of any need to assess or analyze what you’re experiencing through your senses. Be open and curious.

Take a long, slow, deep breath, and then let your eyes rove around the room as though you’re seeing it for the first time. This approach is called beginner’s mind, and invites you to suspend old ideas to make room for new ones. Take in all that’s entering everything that enters your visual field as your eyes move over, and onto and land on, particular objects.

When an item’s story begins to emerge around form in your head—where the item it came from, and the what significance it has for you, etc., —mentally drop the story and then look closer at focus on its empirical qualities… . what What textures, colors, and shapes do you notice? Study this object until you’ have seen all that you can see, and then let your vision wander again. nNotice where your vision eyes lands next, tapping into the wonder of looking around with the inquisitiveness of an explorer in a foreign place you’ve never been.

Shift your attention now to the sounds you can hear around you, maybe even the sound of your own breath. Notice how the mind wants to identify, judge, and react to these sounds, i.e.. “Why do they always have to mow on Sunday morning?” or “I wish they’d keep that dog inside when they leave. and When you notice deliberately drop the reaction, the story your mind creating a story from is associating with these sounds, and try to drop the association and allow instead think of the sounds for what they are for —mental the sound to register as biological feedback setting off a from vibrations in your eardrum. Maybe you can experience the sound as a physical sensation that you’ve never noticed before.

Notice what you smell, what you taste, what you feel against/on your skin. Then, moor your attention to the palms of your hands, tuning into the all of their sense sensations of aliveness here. Linger here for a time while, noticing any all the pulsation, energy, or and circulation that comes from being alive.

Now, take a few deep breaths and allow your eyes to open. Take in what’s around you while still feeling focusing on your hands. Breathe, feel, and look around, staying tethered to your body and as you become aware of your external environment once more.

Take this moment to set an intention for your creative time, for example, “I resolve to release my self-doubt, criticism and perfectionism, and open to the flow of Source.”

Take another deep breath, open yourself to inspiration, and go create.

How I’ve seen this ritual work

Results in people’s lives

I use this ritual often when I’m sitting down to either write or paint, and I find that it helps me let all my worries and preoccupations recede, get out of my own way, and allow the forces of creation to do their thing. Anyone can do the same by just sitting down and trying it out.

Diane wanted to enter a short story competition with a story she’d begun a few years earlier, but she struggled with self-doubt every time she sat down to write. Whenever she did get something down, she would edit and re-edit as she went along the same passage until her writing felt was overworked and lifeless. She often felt overwhelmed by all she needed to do to keep her family together her other obligations, which conflicted by with her desire to write this story. When she came to work with me, she was considering retirement, and wanted help prioritizing time to write.

She admitted to feeling self-conscious when we first began, but I sensed that she was eagerness and hopefulness that she could learn how to rein in her distracted mind and access free her spirit’s that needed to write. I guided her to close her eyes for a moment as she settled in, and to shift out of thinking and into feeling, and —into being. I was surprised at how quickly she embraced the essence of the ritual. I watched tenderly as her eyes settled on an object I couldn’t see beyond my screen (we were meeting virtually)across the room and watched tenderly as her eyes grew moist and quickly filled with tears. “So beautiful … ” I heard her mutter.

When we completed the ritual together, she reported feeling clarity, and internal softness, and then followed by a flood of ideas rushed in about for how to complete her short story. Diane and I continued to work together and she adopted The the Sense Awareness Ritual as a way to make writing bridge the rest of her life with her writing part of her everyday life. In just two months, she had completed her story and had begun a second one, looking forward to writing a collection she would then aim to publish. She was no longer controlled by her cynical imagination, and had instead learned to approach her creativity with enthusiasm, curiosity, and confidence. All it took was a little mindfulness.

About Halli Bourne
I use this ritual often when I’m sitting down to either write or paint, and find that it helps me let all my worries and preoccupations fade, get out of my own way, and allow the creation to come.

Halli has been working in the creative arts for 30 years and through her work as a creativity and performance coach, with over 30 years’ experience, Halli Bourne helps other creatives overcome directly addresses the issues of stage fright, performance anxiety, self-criticism, perfectionism, writer’s block, and boredom to help you to connect with what flows genuinely from you and help you the soul so as to bring your their expression out into the world.

Halli’s work as a coach involves a process of thought inquiry, focus, and awareness, otherwise known as mindfulness and witness consciousness.  In Halli’s words: , “It is one thing to desire a creative life and another thing entirely to generate the optimal conditions for it to exist. The commitment to creativity is a decision to turn away from the world’s incessant reverberations about who we should be, and a turning toward an active-yet-quiet state of mind where our brains and hearts can unite in a soul-nourishing way.”

Halli Bourne

Halli is a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Certified Creativity Coach. She is also a Senior -Level Kripalu Yoga & and Meditation Teacher, a Mindfulness Mentor, a freelance writer, a vocalist, a lyricist, a dancer, and a visual artist, and earned with a B. A. in Theatre Arts.

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