State vs Trait

This is a new term for me. I heard Mitch Horowitz talking about it on Inspire Nation Show last week and it piqued my interest, sending me down a couple of rabbit holes. Here’s what I have come up with so far, and what it means for Creatives.

Picture this scenario.

You’ve just had a great yoga lesson. You’re feeling very calm, serene and loving towards your fellow humans. You say namaste and float to your car, put on some music that reflects your peaceful inner state. Whalesong, anyone?

You’re feeling like you could do anything. You want to shout it from the roof-tops, in a totally zen way, of course, that everyone should do yoga!

You go to pull out into the traffic and the car behind does the same, almost colliding with you.

“Can’t you use an indicator? Are you blind?” you growl at your closed window, and just like that, the inner peace is gone.  The other driver is a chick from yoga…awkward. You switch off the whalesong and put the radio on and get on with your day…

This is the challenge of any self improvement/empowerment practice from yoga and meditation, to journaling, or even therapy; practice alone doesn’t guarantee lasting change.

Who knew?

Here’s a little video explaining State vs Trait


So you want to get to that place of peace and love? I know I do!

But what will do the trick? How can we ensure that the love and equanimity we feel after yoga stays with us? How can we get from a temporary state of peace, love, kindness, whatever, to trait peace, love…

Consistency (and it’s evil twin, discipline) in our practice is my key number 1. Over time our practice can deepen and we can begin to experience a shift in our personality away from the emotions we usually refer to as negative. Anger, frustration, envy, even lust, can be transmuted, softened. I am always banging on about the importance of meditation, but a lot of people find it challenging for various reasons. Check out this blog for an insanely great list of meditation podcasts.

For creatives, this is triple-y true (is that even a word? Constant practice! Read, write, draw, knit, cook, play the oboe; whatever floats your boat! Just do it daily.

ram dassCaring and intelligent guidance is my key number 2. Reading is so important, hunting out great teachers in the form of books, podcasts or material online – there is so much out there and so much of it is free so you can sample wide and then decide on what you will allow to take you deep! Because deep is where you have to go to get to where the juice is!

Same goes for creatives. Find a good teacher. If you can’t get to a lesson, there are so many online. YouTube is a little hit-and-miss in the quality stakes, but if you keep trying lots until you find someone who resonates. For visual artists, so many people assume that the ability to draw is simply God-given; you either have it or you don’t. I really think if you WANT to draw or paint, or make stained-glass candle-holders, take some lessons! No-one sits in front of a piano and expects to be able to play like Mozart! Lessons, lessons, lessons…followed by practice, practice, practice!

My last key to keeping that post-yoga glow all day long is having a plan. Just sitting on a cushion and letting the mind run free isn’t going to result in any lasting shift. In fact, the mind that isn’t ready can suffer setbacks in that situation. No, you have to make and follow the plan, study the map as you go and make adjustments. Journalling is great, but using spiritual or creative prompts with a goal to develop emotional skills or improve your writing will help you go deeper than a more superficial practice simply describing your day (or complaining about your family!)

Creatives are apparently not known for their planning skills (apparently I missed that memo because I am both a planner and a finisher! I just have to convince those around me to follow my dreams because I can come across as a little…bossy and intense, hence the desire to achieve some trait-level zen sometime soon!) We can all make a road map of where we want to go. It could be a story, a video, a dream-board, a mural on the bathroom wall… Just make a cuppa and sit and think about where you want to go with your work. If you don’t have a plan and choose to wing-it, then be prepared to be happy with wherever you wind up. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you want to make a living you need to have some idea of how you are going to do that.


Speaking of State vs Trait, here’s one of my favourite moments on The Simpsons