This is not the first time I have blogged using this treasure of a book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron for inspiration. Today as is often part of my routine, I picked up this book, randomly opened a page and began reading about what Julia calls, Reading Deprivation. What I read, as is also often the case, really sang to me and I can easily relate it to my own life.
She writes that by depriving ourselves of the distraction (and obvious pleasure) of reading for a period of time, we are opening up to ourselves and giving ourselves every opportunity for self-connection which is so essential to leading the artist’s life of self-expression. It is of course applicable to every life, no matter the outlook or the occupation, no matter the age or the sex. At times many of us use reading as an escape from self-connection and present moment connection itself.
She goes further to say that she will be ridiculed for this suggestion, such is many people’s connection with it. What can't be denied though is her reporting that when folk follow this regime, and she suggests a week of it, if the creative juices were latent and hiding, then this is a sure way to get them moving again and into the forefront of a life.
From my own perspective, I certainly use reading as a distraction from living in the present moment. Instead of sitting and connecting with the waves as I sit on a beach, how much more interesting can it be to engross myself in a novel which removes me from where I am into some fantasy. There is certainly a place for this emersion but I need to acknowledge that time without it is a worthwhile pursuit.
I’ve attended a couple of retreats where as part of the 10-day program, not only was reading banned but also media of all kinds, conversation and of course the ultimate distractor, social media! This was terrifying to begin but the eventual realisation of self-connection was greatly helped by the removal of these distractions. I came to appreciate that there was only me, the present moment and me in it.
You can use this on a sliding scale of course – is it only reading that we deprive ourselves of or is it also all media devices, all social media or even all conversation? Is it for an hour, several hours, a day, a week? Is this just for you or can you work it with others in your life – perhaps your children, your partner, your pupils?
Whatever we can manage in ‘distraction deprivation’ will be worthwhile as we navigate through ways to closer self-connection and creativity. If you’re inspired to take up this challenge, we’d love to hear what you found along the way. Hopefully it will be a deeper connection to yourself as you allow yourself the luxury of time just with you.