Out of the spin cycle

I was doing some dusting the other day, reaching up high to the top of a book shelf when I noticed a long-legged spider hanging on a fine thread of web in the corner of the ceiling, spinning and spinning and spinning so fast, like it was caught up in its own personal tornado. The room was very still and I was really much more than an arm’s length away but some updraught I had caused with my duster must have set it in motion and so it continued like that, on unstoppable momentum, for quite some minutes…poor thing, I hoped he enjoyed the exhilerating ride and wasn’t too traumatised.

Life is like that…as some people are just starting to notice, more than they ever did. No one is an island, so they get affected by some draught or disturbance, often something much more than an arms length away (which defies all their logic but it has never been more apparent how interconnected we all are), and so they start spinning and spinning, out of control, then its as though they can hardly stop….where is the brake, the anchor, the steadying force? Once in that cycle, it can feel very hard to get off the ride.

Thank goodness for all the inner stillness I have spent the past decade or so cultivating; the only way I could even begin to cope with my down spiralling health, now the gift hidden inside all those often alarming experiences I continue to have via my body. I never deny the pain, I am fully acknowledging of it, without the need to fixate on it, yet I have learned to hold centre through thick and very thin. Not that I’m immune to getting into a spin…far from it (I had one almost take me over today)…but I recognise the signs and I step away or swiftly take measures to restore my inner harmony and am reasonably am good at it, knowing from painful experience the number one importance of self-nurturance as the start-point of everything I might ever feel I have to handle “out there”. So I have my toolbox of ways to shepherd myself home and I use it well; which was the topic of a post I drafted, but chose not to publish, last week following quite the spin cycle the week before…

Because, in recent weeks, I’ve written half a dozen posts on a range of different topics (I am, after all, an almost compulsive writer) and yet none of them have made it “out” into my blog. After the pause to let the mud settle, which I now ensure I take before impulse publishing anything (even, or especially, when inspiration strikes quickly and compellingly), each one of them has felt unnecessary or best left unshared, when all is said and done; because how can I presume to push out topics of relative trivia when people are dealing with so much. Those unshared posts often recounted some “spin” I had recently been in and how I had got myself out of it but who needs to hear about my spinning when we are all doing our own version of it and, more than that, why do I want to re-energise that spin by gaining it an audience and other people’s take on it, just as I managed to slow it down and defuse it? This is what we do, when we keep going over something that has already “been and gone”; stoking it back to life with our recounting of events. Its a mind-trap I should know to avoid; an old-world trait. Perhaps we will take less microanalysis into the new, respecting much more the power we wield to keep alive thought-forms with our endless cerebral machinations.

So yes often, in hindsight, what I wrote on such a tidal wave of writing impulse felt superfluous and overly personal when I read it through; very-much worth writing for my own processing of it (yes) but not necessarily worth the sharing when its nothing anyone is going to truly relate to as I do. In any case, it’s as though I have had a complete rethink about “relatability” lately and become quite jaded with its usefulness because where does it really get us except into more huddles of entrenched ideas, artificially reinforced by the illusion of passing consensus. I also sense people have never been less interested in other people’s affairs than right now and perhaps that’s a collective shift we need to go through, post the era of “share every minutest thing” that has been the compunction of the age of social media. Words…too many words…I’ve felt a real pull-back from adding more words to the pile; perhaps the world doesn’t need to hear any more of our own personal take on things right now amidst all the racket of external reactions going on. Perhaps it’s a time for attentive silence and inner stillness more so than opinion…just perhaps.

Instead, I’ve found my happy place, as ever (though more so than I had managed to surrender to it for the past four years of overthinking my approach!) doing my painting, setting aside at least a couple of hours per day to loose myself in painting gardens that I bring to life with my brushes and my own particular take on the marriage of form with something more ethereal. As ever I did, I find myself wondering why I ever stopped…because, in that place of full immersion into a world of colour and tone, composition and light adjustment, I effortlessly reach a place of such inner harmony, mind-silence and peace that its as though a well of love springs up in me and over spills my edges; and then the world around me takes on a different hue. The feeling, which is like no other I have ever achieved through other means, including meditation (though I have restarted a daily practice of that too…), can carry me for hours and hours and then, the next day, I do some more. It’s how I navigated the darkest years of my life and is how I know best to navigate these somewhat trying times; my only foible being the tendency to think that it’s somehow selfish or “not contributing enough” to the reconciliation of mayhem to loose myself in art.

Why do I still give any heed to these out-moded thoughts of a crazed masculinity indoctrinated into my own psyche, which I would do my very best to quash in anyone else that expressed them?? The very calibre of feeling I get to when I paint should be enough to sign-post the way, according to my own best understanding of divine purpose…and shut down forever the ever critical voice that dares to call it time wasting!

Perhaps this kind of “doing” (which is really a lot more about “being”, for all there is a manifest product at the end of it) is much more than enough for now; my specialist contribution to “the world” in its spin, as I hold a place of harmony and stillness, manifesting it through the channel of my brushes.

So, I’m not going to suggest that this exact thing is for you (we each have our way of holding centre) or that we should all do likewise…I simply share what I know from direct experience; no agenda, no solution, no recommendation, just a fragment of how I am coping, to hold space for those who might relate yet hesitate to pursue their own version of what I describe. If it is there calling to you…a hobby, a passion, a craft or a spiritual practice…consider letting it come forwards and become more real for you than ever; allow it to arise without guilt or pressure or inner/outer criticism and then notice how it transforms “spinning out of control”, at the say-so of all the chaotic currents presently at large in the world, into a degree of calm and clarity that cannot so easily be shaken. When you get there, you will probably want to stay there more than do anything else and so you will get even more accomplished at this; perhaps many of us will, all in good time. Its not avoiding what is happening out in the world but our unique way of contributing as we help hold things steady, empaths and sensitives especially. With perfect timing, I read this description just now: “Little by little, crawl back to your center, your heart…not spiritual bypassing real emotions but feeling the pain and then practicing warrior centering techniques to rise up like the Phoenix so you may be in your power and in true service to our times” (Dr Judith Orloff) and that’s exactly it. We are not weak when we do this thing but being the “badass” warriors of a different kind that the world needs more than it knows.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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7 Responses to Out of the spin cycle

  1. Ashley says:

    Thank you, Helen, for this reassuring post, for its positive ‘spin’ (sorry). I write frequently but I desperately want to illustrate as well, but no matter how I approach it, the ‘doing’ just doesn’t happen. I’ve started meditating again, after many years, so I hope that will help. I will save this post and return to it for it’s telling me something that I haven’t fully grasped.


    • Helen White says:

      I’m so glad its helped Ashley! I replied to your comment and wordpress somehow lost it…second attempt here, perhaps a little shorter this time. I totally relate to the “doing” just not happening as I was stuck for a long time and mine (painting) only got started when I made it something without pressure, expectations or rules. The last time I was this happy in the flow of it was 4 years ago when there was an Indian summer much like this and I had me easel outside working on some large canvases…the last decent things I had painted…every time the sun shined. Nostalgia for that happy time due to the weather reminded me how much I loved to be outdoors in the mellow golden afternoons of September and October that year, lost in my art, and so I decided that was my only aim, not the painting itself or the outcome, so allowed myself to break all the rules and paint in my lap in a deckchair (no easel) as my back struggles with that now. Just bending that hard rule of many years painting practice was like a magic spell and the rest was easy. I’m also using a different medium – acrylics instead of oils (far less messy) – and painting expressly what brings me most joy and escapism (gardens) loaded with lots of personal metaphor just for me (not even thinking about the commercial application of it any more, this is my art practice now and anything else that comes of it is secondary). I hope you get back to your illustration soon…the fact you really want to is a clue to how powerful it could be for you, I recommend!


  2. mudpie12 says:

    I think you capture this so well, you observe the world in both words and art. It sums up how I feel, and I am trying to wean myself away from the constant stream of “noise” and anger on so many platforms. A work in progress yet but I am getting there. Happy place and reconnecting with it will definitely be one of my memories of 2020

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you’ve found your way back to painting Helen, I do love your light-filled paintings. It is difficult to know how much and what to share in these times without what sometimes seems like going over the same old ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen White says:

      Thanks Andrea, yes it is interesting how much we all seem to be sharing (to one degree or another) the same experience and so the need to articulate it is getting less…though perhaps that will make us clearer when we have something more unique to say. The world still needs writers, more than ever, but I suspect we are going through an evolution of motivation and inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

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