Actually, this happens with almost anything you undertake that really matters to you. There’s a point where things go a bit chaotic. Or a lot chaotic. There’s a period of orientation loss, uncertainty, loss of control, craziness – and all your deepest darkest emotions and thoughts have come to the surface, in your face. You are left in a complete confusion of what you were going for in the first place.
Gabrielle Roth (creator of 5 Rhythms) places chaos in the centre of the 5 rhythms. She writes in her book ‘Connections’:
It’s a relentless rhythm that breaks down all barriers to our awareness. And in that divine opening into nothingness, the still-point at the center of our being, we find new eyes. Letting go of the known and receiving the unknown…
It is that intense point in the creative process – where you often start to think ‘Why am I doing this?’ or ‘Do I really love this?’ Until just recently, I used to think that it was a test from the universe, to prove whether it was something truly important to me –kind of like the Bible story where King Soloman determined the true mother of a baby by threatening to cut the baby in half. The true mother was ready to give up her baby rather than have her baby split in two – and proved she was the rightful mother. But I don’t believe anymore that this ‘chaos’ is a test – that is really just a childish projection on the universe as an authority figure who will give me what I want if I prove I am committed enough or worthy. As if dreams get dished out to you only if you prove to be a good person. But there is wisdom in this story – with the key being in the part where she was ready to 'let it all go’.
I still don’t fully understand this point in the process and maybe I never will. In fact, I don’t think chaos can be fully conceptualised. Many years back, one of my friends at university told me he was doing a math subject called chaos. I said, “That’s impossible – the whole definition of chaos is disorder and unpredictability. You can’t make a formula for that!” But looks like they have... to some degree. Good on them for giving it a go – but it’s a fight that can never be won. Though, those in this field must be having a great time (you’d have to love it to take on a subject like that) but often must be pulling their hair out...
Chaos is great for breaking old patterns and through chaos, you expand into discovering new ways of being & seeing. It breaks the rhythm – and that’s why there is no formula for chaos. I think the shamans of old knew this and embraced chaos – actually they were often a little crazy. But they saw things differently, more expansively. They knew that in order to shape-shift, there must be an intense point where you dissolve into cosmic soup before transforming into something else.
Chaos is the tipping point where reality and understanding starts dissolving – and in that dissolution, a new reality is
formed. It reminds me of childbirth and labour. The contractions build on each other through positive feed-back mechanisms set up in the body, which creates a system instability (hence why there are more negative feed-back mechanism in the body – which maintain system stability). This continues until the baby is born – or death. And really, it can be a little touch and go sometimes, even with medical intervention. My own labour story was very chaotic and almost ended in my own death.
Like learning new skills and restructuring of neural pathways in the brain, there is a period of confusion and awkwardness. But after the restructuring, new efficiencies in skill and thought process are created. This happens over and over again – it’s true, we are never static beings.
A week went by and suddenly, I could play it. I could barely remember anything of that week, just the awkwardness, self-doubt and confusion. The desire to be able to play the break/pattern overrode my eroding self-confidence- so I kept practising until my brain was mush. Then, went to bed. I didn’t allow myself be deterred by the reality that I was actually getting worse – I just kept going, kept trying, then resting before starting all over again. And it is like this when passing through the chaos. The desire for your end goal must be there, but also a letting go.
Chaos cannot be fully explained. Even why it exists is a mystery – but it sure keeps things interesting. Mathematics may have come up with chaos theory (aided greatly by computers, since the formulas are rather complex) – but we still can’t predict the weather beyond three days. One of the interesting things is that chaos is held within the order of things – and the order is held within the chaos. It is an inherent part of our world and our bodies – yet the world keeps functioning and so do we.
Allow the chaos in the creative process to shift you. Like an earthquake, it will upheave you. Like a tsunami, it will pummel you and destroy all the structures weakly held in reality. But like after a raging storm, the air becomes refreshed and clear. After moving through the tumultuous calamity, instead of being flung about by forces beyond your control, things become clear and you see your vision with new eyes. Actually, you have been born anew. It could be that a new direction is realised or just a new way of being with yourself/others/the world. The point I’m trying to make here is not to deal with the chaos, but to acknowledge its existence and appreciate the amazing opportunity for expansion and creativity. But you must realise that you can’t be in control any longer – you need to heed the clues in the midst of the confusion.
Its existence does not determine your failure or success – it is the way you respond or react that is the determinant. This is the point where you can allow yourself to be redirected into trying something differently.
Chaos is a beautiful thing when you go with the let go (albeit unnerving) – but it can be hell if you resist it. Let go of how you think it is. Let go of holding onto pride and knowledge and parts of yourself that keep you stuck in old ways. Let go of the painful past, past definitions and how you think the world is. Release the emotions & thoughts, let them forth - but don't identify. Allow yourself to be washed asunder. Remember that there is a more brilliant way of being waiting for you on the other side. But first you must pass through the chaos.