Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We're All Artists (featuring Troy Bronsink)

On September 30, we had the privilege of hosting singer-songwriter and creative design leader Troy Bronsink. Troy travelled to Tech from Cincinnati where he lives with his wife and two children to teach us how to live our lives as art.

Bronsink introduced us to tools to enhance the creative design process. This process is circular in nature and contains six components. It can be used for everything from writing a short story to designing a cell phone to planning an event to living your life.

The starting point of the design process is dreaming. We have to open our minds to what is possible. This may seem like a simple step, but we all have roadblocks to our dreams. We may not realize that we stand in our own way. Not knowing our own roadblocks can become our biggest roadblock of all. In order to learn and let go of our roadblocks, Troy led us through a meditation process. Once we are able to fully open our minds to all possibilities, we can truly dream. Without a dream, the entire process is impossible.

Following the discovery of a dream, we must enter the next step of hovering. Here, we focus on a particular aspect of the dream. As this may be difficult for some of us, particularly those of us who often get caught up in the dreaming phase, Troy led us through a meditative focusing exercise. He instructed us to focus a warm energy flowing from the top of our heads to our ankles. This taught us to focus our creative energies. It can be difficult to let go of a part of our dreams as they often become a part of who we are; however, it is necessary to let go of certain aspects of our dreams in order to make the entire dream come true.

Once we are able to focus our dream, we need to risk it. We have to put our baby out into the world and sit back, waiting for success or failure. We have to test how our creation will function in the world. Risk isn’t something we only do with a project. We risk things in our lives every time we make a major decision. Troy encouraged us to ask ourselves what the “no” or “yes” is in our lives that we are postponing. What is the crossroads in our lives? The reason we often stand at a crossroads and postpone saying no or yes lies in our fear of risk. It is, however, a critical part of the design process that is our lives.
The results of our risk will come whether we like it or not. In order to gain insight from our risk, we must listen, truly listen, to our audience, or in the events of our life design, to ourselves. We must listen to understand what our user’s experience is. Feedback is crucial to the creative design process. As a writer, I go through a feedback process every time one of my pieces is read and workshopped by my peers. It’s a tough process, but without it, I’ll never grow as a writer. As a leader, I go through a feedback process every time an event or idea I worked hard on plays out.

Sometimes my risk resulted in success and sometimes it didn’t. Either way, I always learn something through truly listening to feedback. This is the only way I grow as a leader. One of the exercises Troy led us through for the listening process was meditating over our day. We began from the morning and worked our way through the day reflecting on what our body was telling us at each part of our day. Listening to our bodies daily allows us to discover the question that lingers inside of us all day every day.
So what do we do with our feedback? The next step of the design process is to reintegrate our feedback into our design. We make changes and improvements to our design based on our listening. This may involve going back to any one of the previous stages of the process. We may have to scrap everything and begin dreaming again.
Following whatever reintegrating means for our particular creative endeavor, we must rest. We must, as artists, take a step away from our creation giving it and ourselves room to breathe and rest. Many of us forget or refuse to take this step. Many of us, myself included, feel guilty for taking this step always feeling like we could do more. However, rest is key to a successful creative design. It may be a cliché, but if you love something, you must let it go. The same thing goes for your creation.
While a useful tool to shaping our projects and lives, the creative design process can only go so far. We must be mindful of our use of it particularly in the listening stage. We must go through the day stopping to integrate our meditative processes into our everyday lives. As citizens of a sleepless nation, we often get swept up in the business of the day and miss out on the opportunities to listen that happen all around us. Troy suggests carrying a token of some sort—something small such as a stone or prayer beads—around with you to remind you to meditate throughout the day. Or for the more techy people, put a reminder on your phone.
It was a great pleasure to meet and get to know Troy Bronsink. I’m very grateful for the things he was able to teach us during his time in the Tree House. He helped us create a peaceful open energy the entire night through music and meditation. As my friend and colleague Brett Meeks said, “These meditations created amazing unity and energy in the room.” The unity and atmosphere Troy was able to help us create was a true gift that we will be able to use for the rest of our lives. I’ll leave you with this thought that Troy borrowed from Frederick Buechner and that really spoke to me: your calling is where your deepest passion meets the world’s deepest need. - Chelsea Mathes 

Wake-Up Wednesday has been hiatus due to midterms but resumes this Wednesday, October 21, with Rev. Mark Pafford on “What is Unitarian Universalism?”