Life at the Center, by Renée Tillotson
I’m struck with amazement. It was only a twinkle in the eye of my imagination in August of 2010. Yet Still & Moving Center splashed into full living, breathing existence when we opened our doors on March 18, 2011. What happened in those intervening 7 months?
Well, several of us spent a lot of creative time dreaming it up: the name, the logo, the programs we would offer, the architecture, etc. And many people collectively put in thousands of hours of hard work to bring the building and its contents into being.
On our Grand Opening, lights illuminated whole space, packed with well-wishing guests bringing flowers and receiving lei. Beautiful movers performed hula, aerial silks, advanced flowing yoga, and classical Indian Bharatanatyam dancing. We all danced Nia together, the practice that had sparked my original inspiration for opening a mindful movement studio in Hawaii. I felt as if I had walked into the bubble of my own dream!
Since that time tens of thousands of students and teachers, trainers, bodyworkers and their clients have all flowed through the space, adding their energy, hopes, and visions to the life of Still & Moving Center. All this unfolding from one tiny seed-thought?!?
The ancient language of Sanskrit gives us two potent words to describe the process of conscious creation that I’d like us to explore: kriyashakti and itchashakti.
Kriyashakti is the power of creative imagination for bringing thought into form. If you look around the space where you are now sitting to read this letter, you will minimally see the device on which you are reading it, and probably numerous other human-made items. For every one of those things you see, somebody had to dream them up, design them and build them. That’s the process by which visible stuff comes into the world from the invisible realm of the mind. Isn’t it astonishing what we can do?
Each person who worked on Still & Moving Center had in mind their concept of a finished product – say of the sprung, mango wood floors with the lattice-work and cushioning underneath it – that they were striving to bring forth. When their vision was clear, so was the product. That goes for most places in Still & Moving. However, when someone’s vision was scattered or fuzzy, so was the end result. Methinks the 11 confusing light switches in Sun & Moon Room must have come from a muddle-headed electrician!
We all use this power of kriyashakti to some extent ALL THE TIME. Let’s say you make yourself a cup of tea. You must first hold the concept of a cup of tea in your mind to then bring together the mug, the tea bag and the hot water, and thus create the fragrant, steaming drink.
Let’s say you’re moving into a new apartment and you manage to get towels and tooth brushes into the room with the sink, toilet and shower; you get a mattress, sheets, blankets and a pillow into the space where you are going to sleep, a sofa and TV into your relaxation area, and dishes, a table and chairs into your eating area. Your bike, scooter or car has its appropriate place. If you have managed that degree of functional organization, you have engaged in a rather sophisticated act of kriyashakti.
And you used something else in addition to your creative imagination. Here’s where itchashakti comes into play. I don’t know enough metaphysics to fully grasp the scope of this term, however, I understand that itchashakti has to do with will power. Itchashakti harnesses the energy of motive to an invisible idea in order to pull our plan down here into the physical world where we can see or hear or touch it.
In other words, it’s not enough to simply dream up an idea and “poof” it’s going to appear! It takes the force of will, energy, work, effort to get that thing out of the realm of the unmanifest and into the realm of the manifest, where we live and breathe our lives. That’s the itchashakti or the “will” part of the creation equation. You start with the idea of living in a new apartment, then it takes all of that will power to get together your moving boxes, pack them up, buy a new shower curtain, get all the utilities started in your name, organize a vehicle, then transfer all your belongings from wherever they started into the new place where you are going to live.
You may not think of yourself as a “creative” person, or as someone with a lot of “will power”, and yet you have brought your concept of a new living space into actual being. You have engaged in both kriyashakti and itchashakti! Ta Da! Of course, this mundane act simply suggest the awesome creative abilities of great souls who envision and usher into being numinous conceptions for the whole of humanity.
Just as it’s the case that the clearer our visualization of what we want to create, the more effective our end result will be, so also, the more we want something, the more will power we have to achieve it.
Are these powers of kriyashakti and itchashakti something we can cultivate, or are some people just good at it and other people aren’t?
I believe we all can cultivate our ability to imagine creatively and tap our will power to bring something beautiful into existence. It just takes clarity and determination.
On the creative side, we can start to get intimate with our ideas. Intimacy has to do with coming close to the details. See it, hear it, smell it or taste its tiniest characteristics. If you have a general idea and not the specifics yet, inform yourself. Bathe yourself in all the information you can find about such things: what other people have done before and how the thing could work on the intricate level. Now we can visualize or listen or feel our dream in its largest, grandest, most fully developed form – bringing it to life and color and “surround sound” and full motion… in our minds.
On the energetic side, imagine how bringing this not-yet-born thing into manifestation will help you to accomplish what it is you are meant to do in the world. Imagine how it will benefit whomever it will touch or affect. Now give it your love, knowing that you are bringing something good into the world.
Unfolding our idea requires us to use both creativity and effort.
I’m thinking of Kumu Mālia creating a brand new hula. I’ve watched her ideate on a new piece for months, soaking herself in the historic details of the place she’ll be portraying in dance. Visiting the spot, she collects its most vibrant images: the call of a certain bird, the scent of a particular flower, the shape of the clouds, the ripple across the pond beneath the waterfall. She steeps herself in the colors, textures, sounds, and feelings that these details evoke. She is cultivating kriyashakti.
Now for the willpower side, the itchashakti. Kumu Mālia has spent long decades practicing her skills as a dancer, a chanter, a choreographer, a creator of chants, as well as a hula teacher, and all of those past efforts will lend their energy to assist her in bringing her new hula into the world.
Before she initiates the process of finding the specific words and then the steps to the dance, she clarifies the purpose of this hula to gather her energy for it. She imagines her dancers performing it, their purple pa’u hula skirts swirling wide as they turn, and their hands gracefully yet powerfully conveying the story. She lets herself feel in advance the satisfaction that she and her dancers will all experience while performing this hula, and she feels the pure delight that will thrill her audience when they watch it, how the birds’ voices will come through hers, how the wind and rippling water will travel through the dancers’ expressive limbs, and how their faces and in-breath will convey the flower’s sweet scent. Now she is centered in her own creative field of energy (mana).
Having activated both her creative visualization and energetic powers, kriyashakti and itchashakti, Kumu Mālia is ready and able to give birth to this new hula.
Few of us have cultivated the skills to work at Mālia’s level of creativity in the world. We may need to sharpen our abilities and possibly supplement them with other people’s skills we don’t yet have. We may need a mentor or collaborators or assistants. In any case, all of us can use every day examples of our own to remind ourselves that we can successfully embark on our own projects. Kriyashakti and itchashakti – powerful concepts for us as human beings to bring our deepest thoughts into form, our purist dreams into reality.
Given events of the recent past, we know that enormous change is possible. Let’s dream large, in beautifully vivid colors and exquisitely imagined tones and give all of our heart energy once we clearly see our way forward.
Renée Tillotson, Director, founded Still & Moving Center to share mindful movement arts from around the globe. Her inspiration comes from the Joy and moving meditation she experiences in the practice of Nia, and from the lifelong learning she’s gained at the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara, California. Engaged in a life-long spiritual quest, Renée assembles the Still & Moving Center Almanac each year, filled with inspirational quotes by everyone from the Dalai Lama to Dolly Parton. Still & Moving Center aspires to serve the community, support the Earth and its creatures, and always be filled with laughter and friendship!
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