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Personal transformation: ‘The Listening Path’ offers the opportunity to explore a different dimension of creativity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Among Julia Cameron’s 40-plus books is her famous 1992 volume on the creativity process “The Artist’s Way.”

Julia Cameron

Now Cameron has a new book that gives readers the opportunity to explore a different dimension of creativity with “The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention.”

The path is built on a six-week program, from “Listening to Our Environment” in week one to “Listening to Silence” in week six.

“I think that many people who’ve used ‘The Artist’s Way’ were looking for what to do next. I think ‘The Listening Path’ has given them something to focus on,” Cameron said in a phone interview from her Santa Fe home.

Consider the focus on listening within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which she said can be viewed as a period of “enforced introspection.”

“The Listening Path” might give people encouragement to unearth their creativity and, equally, to experience personal transformation during — and maybe after — the pandemic, Cameron suggested.

In the book’s introduction, the author explains “The Listening Path’s” three basic tools she has written about as separate subjects in previous books. But now she takes a broader look at them as conjoined elements in forging the extraordinary power of deep listening to your surroundings, to others and to your inner self.

Those tools are called “Morning Pages,” “The Artist Date” and “Walking.”

“ ‘Morning Pages,’ ” Cameron writes, “are a daily practice of three pages, stream of consciousness, written first thing upon awakening. … Pages are private and personal, not to be shown to anyone, however close they are to us.”

Pages should be written longhand, not on a computer. Writing with pen or pencil produces what she describes as “a handmade life” versus speedy typing on a computer keyboard. “Speed is not what we are after. We are after depth and specificity. We want to record exactly how we feel and why,” Cameron instructs in the introduction. Further, she writes, expressing gratitude is fertile ground for “Morning Pages.” That relates to accenting the positive because it breeds the joy of optimism.

She proposes “The Artist Date” as a once-a-week solo exercise for one or two hours. The purpose is to do something that enchants or interests you that is also fun, such as visiting the zoo.

The concept of fun, she writes, may be difficult for some to wrap their head around because our society has a “work” ethic, not a “play” ethic.

“But play can do plenty,” Cameron writes. “As we lighten up, our ideas flow more freely.”

Walking is the third tool of deep listening. Specifically, she urges easy walking for 20 minutes at least twice weekly. She asks walkers to pay attention to their surroundings. Use your ears to hear the songbirds in the piñon tree but also use your eyes to observe the gray-green of a neighbor’s chamisa.

Cameron comments that the premise of her earlier book “ ‘Walking in This World’ is that walking can benefits us spiritually as well as physically. …” In the introduction to “ ‘The Listening Path,’ ” she writes, “Walking, we are attuned to the rhythm of our thoughts. We hear the words and the emotion behind the words …”

Since the publication of “The Artist’s Way,” Cameron has been given credit for starting a movement that has brought creativity to mainstream conversation. That book has sold more than five million copies and its sales are still doing well. Cameron said in the interview that in recent weeks “The Artist’s Way” has climbed to No. 3 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.

“I think I owe a thank you to the silver lining of the introspection caused by the pandemic,” she said.

“The Artist’s Way” is also the name of a series of books; “The Listening Path” is the 12th book in that series. Cameron’s writings have also included memoirs, books on spirituality, prayer books and fiction. She is also a poet, songwriter, filmmaker and playwright and teacher. No wonder she has been nicknamed “The Godmother of Creativity.”