Shining Light on the Shadows

An excerpt from The Bright Way 
by Diana Rowan

From a young age, author Diana Rowan knew she was destined to be a musician. But around the age of ten, she started to get anxious and afraid, feelings that stemmed from the immense pressure she felt to be perfect and please the people around her. She threw up before performances, and several times she had to run offstage, due to her crippling performance anxiety. This caused her to give up her dreams of being a professional musician. But she discovered that when she abandoned her creative desires, her life started to feel dim and empty. After a deep spiritual, emotional, and psychological journey, she realized she had to invite authentic creativity back into her life, so she started teaching music and collaborating with other creative people from around the world. As creativity lit up her life again, she found her way to discovering her core purpose in life. The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within (New World Library, March 2, 2020) not only tells her personal story, but shares the five empowering steps that readers can also follow to re-ignite their creative life.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book.

On all epic journeys, there is a moment of hesitation. Let’s face that uncertainty, knowing now that it is an ally we have much to learn from. This darkness is an invitation to go deeper. This darkness is an initiation.

Perhaps something like this is surfacing for you: “Since creativity reflects our true selves back to us, what will I see?” This notion can set nerve-racking expectations that your creations instantly be amazing, given that they reflect your very core. Or maybe we worry that there is no real creativity inside us and we will produce nothing pleasing, even to ourselves. Or we might fear that reflections of our anger, worries, and other “negative” emotions look unflattering, resulting in deprivation of love and connection. Indeed, there are many things we might feel anxious about.

The important thing to remember as you go through this process is that the products of your creativity reflect only part of you. They are not actually you.

I remember back when my whole identity was wrapped up in being a musician. Whatever state my music was in, that’s how I felt about myself as a person. If things were going well musically, I felt great. If they were going badly, I felt worthless.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my musical output wasn’t me, any more than your reflection in the mirror is actually you. Your work is a snapshot in time. A very important snapshot, true, but not your actual soul. Even your creative journey is not you; rather, your creativity is a way back to your true self.

My Bright Way Vision for You
My vision for you is that your creativity shall be your life ally from now on. My dream is for you to engage wholeheartedly with your life, know personal fulfillment, and shine your light back on our world. My hope is that your dreams guide you again — as they once did back in your golden age, no matter how briefly — and that you live your desires out loud from now on. This path is a way to manifest it. Whatever your chosen form of expression, it is your birthright to be creative and live your truth. You can live a connected, engaged life, whatever your current and ever-changing circumstances.

I’m here to assure you: your creativity is alive and wants to emerge in all its glory...for you. Yes, others may enjoy, admire, and benefit from your work, but it’s by keeping a firm focus on your creative purpose for yourself that you’ll thrive and stay true to your path. If I had to boil down everything we’re focusing on here to one message, it is this: creativity is a way of life, not merely a goal.

Bright Way Activity: Creativity Is a Lifestyle

Write “Creativity is a way of life, not merely a goal” on several sticky notes and place them in your planner, on your bathroom mirror, in your car, and anywhere else you visit often. Notice how the layers of this message’s meaning unfold for you. They’re still unfolding for me, even after all these years!

As a consequence of walking this path, your work will become more powerful, and more beautiful, and you will achieve things you’ve always longed for. Products will happen and goals will be achieved naturally along the way as milestones of accomplishment. Yet in the end, creativity is the reflection of your ever-evolving, connected, true self; a traveling star, not a fixed point.

When you choose to activate your creativity, you affirm all life, not just your own. You take up your torch in the procession of human civilization as a creator, not merely as a consumer. You connect with the flow of all who came before us. You set the stage for those who will follow us.

We are the universe creating itself. Even the smallest act of creativity echoes through the sweep of human existence. The first person to recognize the beauty of a plucked bow string didn’t know they were setting the stage for the invention of all stringed instruments. Where would we be without that person today? We need you, even if you don’t think you have anything earth-shattering to share. One tiny thing you create tomorrow may be the answer to something crucial a hundred years from now. Or it may not be! It’s not your worry, either way. You just have to show up and connect with life. You are enough. Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book and constant inquirer into the interplay between structure and freedom, concluded: “No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

When we see someone — like you — step into their true power, it’s the most thrilling thing. We witness magic coming to life. Our faith in humanity is restored. As we reclaim our inborn courage, our love radiates out far and wide, connecting us to everything around us, making sense of life.

Now, this might feel like a lot. Do you wonder where to even start on our epic journey? Take hope: the magic is already inside you. Hildegard of Bingen is again with us: “Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world — everything is hidden in you.” Let’s reveal you!

Diana Rowan is the author of The Bright Way. She is a professional harpist with an MM in classical piano performance and a PhD in music theory. She is also the founder of Bright Knowledge Guild, an online creative community that offers students around the world access to her Bright Way system. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find out more about her work at

Excerpted from the book The Bright Way. Copyright ©2020 by Diana Rowan. Printed with permission from New World Library.