Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic – by Elizabeth Gilbert

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When I read a book, I like to jot down the main takeaways. Writing them down helps me to fully understand them. To quote Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I am thinking.”

After I wrote down my takeaways for Big Magic, I noticed that there were seven of them. And those seven happened to correspond to the seven chakras of the body. And so that is how I will reflect on them here:

The Crown Chakra and Cosmic Ping Pong

The crown chakra (at the top of your head) symbolizes a connection with a force of life greater than ourselves.

When Liz (the author) described her earlier days as a writer and struggle to first become published, she explained how whenever she received a rejection letter on a story she had submitted, she would ricochet that energy right back into the world with another submission — as if she were playing a game of cosmic ping pong. I love the imagery of this metaphor. A rejection isn’t an ultimatum. It’s simply your intention being returned back to you, waiting to be sent back out into the world again.

The Third Eye Chakra and Dual Exploration

The third eye chakra is the center of insight and reflection. It represents clear vision and thought.

One technique for nurturing this chakra (discussed in this book) is “dual exploration.” Dual exploration is pursuing multiple channels of creative expression so as to clarify your thinking and vision in each of them.

As an example, when Einstein felt stuck when working on his physics theorems, he would play the violin as a form of relief. Transitioning yourself from a creative outlet when it becomes jammed gives that channel the opportunity to clear.

Eistein Playing the Violin

Eistein Playing the Violin

In my own life, I find that alternating between the work of my day job and my writing helps with both pursuits. They’re like two wheels of a bicycle, needing each other for support.

The Throat Chakra and Learning from Others

The throat, from which our speech flows, is tied to communication with others. Liz described how impacted she was by talking to a friend of hers who had more experience in life — being 90 years old. The nonagenarian explained how ten years ago, she had become fascinated by studying ancient Mesopotamia — and how life-changing it was for her. It’s inspiring to know that even at later stages in life, it’s possible to have experiences that can completely alter your outlook on life.

The Heart Chakra and Creativity as a Border Collie

The heart chakra represents openness — a quality that creativity craves.

Liz likens creativity to a border collie. A border collie is an energy-filled beast. It needs a purpose or task to pursue in order to feel fulfilled. Without a purpose or task, it becomes a self-destructive force.

Creativity is like a border collie

Creativity is like a border collie – if it can’t roam free, it will become destructive.

Thinking about creativity this way made me feel more validated in pursuing my own creative pursuits. Before, I saw it as self-indulgent, but now I recognize it as being a necessary outlet. Without an outlet, my creativity grows restless, much like a caged in dog.

The Solar Chakra and Embracing Challenge

The solar chakra (located by the naval) is where power resides.

Liz talks about how when her creativity was faced with a challenge, it helped to bring out facets of her abilities and power she wasn’t aware of before.

She describes how she had written a short story, scheduled to be published — only to be told that the word count had to be drastically reduced. Though Liz was initially jarred by this requirement, she later found that cutting down the length of the story helped her to cultivate a new stylistic way of writing.

The Sacral Chakra and Curiosity

The sacral chakra houses the most emotional elements of ourselves. When we are passionate about something, this is the chakra that gets activated.

Passion is a fun experience to have — and the lack of it can be disconcerting.

When I feel a lack of passion in a certain area of life, for me there is a sense of urgency to recover it. Yet, passion isn’t something you can generate by sheer will — it has to organically develop.

Liz suggests that instead of pursuing passion, a more natural path is to follow curiosity. IF we are curious about something, we should follow the trail it leaves. And who knows — it may eventually guide us towards that passion we crave.

The Root Chakra and Creative Liberation

The root chakra is associated with grounding and stability.

When we look to our creativity as a source of financial stability, an undue burden is placed on our creative stores.

Liz puts forth the idea that you shouldn’t look towards your creativity as being the only source of your financial stability. That would put great pressure on your creativity, and could ultimately be harmful.

This idea resonates with me. Having a relationship with creativity means providing for it as if it were your own child. You don’t expect it to earn its keep. It is yours to foster, nurture and cultivate – with no expectation that it return deliverables.