I am very excited to talk about this topic, close to my heart, with Paola Pani the founder of www.luxiworld.com a mindfulness facilitator in Italy, a dear friend of mine and part of my team.
I have asked Paola to share with us her top tips on how to awaken your creativity.
” I might be saying something unpopular, but the easiest way to get in touch with your creativity is to STOP!”
We live constantly bombarded by content on social media, and negative news, on top of our daily responsibilities. All of this overstimulation puts our system on overload.
Unrealistic expectations of feeling productive all the time can also be a dangerous trap, it can lead us to burnout leaving us starved of creativity, unhappy and worst depressed.
As a reward for ticking boxes on our to-do lists, we get a hit of the “feel good” hormone dopamine, a feeling of pleasure! Our brain may recognise it as something good as it doesn’t care if the source is a positive one or an addiction but in the long run how sustainable that can be? It can only lead us to chronic stress and health issues.
To understand how deeply stress affects our creativity we need to know a little bit of the science behind it.
Our brain is made of 3 layers that all impact and communicate with each other.
- The deeper layer of our brain which is responsible to keep us safe, regulates our hormones, blood pressure and much more called the reptilian brain, is not built to store so much information and when we do too much it takes it as something threatening to constantly keep us safe from.
- The surrounding limbic system is the ‘emotional brain’ controlling fear, anger, joy, gratitude etc. This is why when we are stressed we normally go on a negative thinking spiral.
- The outer layer which is the more creative, the cerebral cortex is the most evolved and controls things such as decision-making, long-term planning etc.. The cerebral cortex is regulated by the other two and its efficiency depends on them.
So what does this have anything to do with awakening your creativity?
In very simple words: if we don’t make sure our reptilian brain feels safe meaning calm and less stressed while keeping our emotional brain happy, the outer part of our brain won’t function efficiently enough with new creative ideas!
My take on this is that if you want to awaken your creativity, make sure to take really good care of your stress levels every day.
If at the moment you are experiencing a lack of creativity or you think you are not a creative person, or you just want to awaken your creativity, please stay here and read on because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, you might just need to give your body and brain a rest!
How the brain plays tricks on our creative wisdom…
If we are not used to it, when we start slowing down our mind will start playing tricks on us, we are going to have a lot of resistance especially if we lived our lives with the preconceived idea that if we are not grinding then we are slacking! If we are not productive then we are not enough! If we don’t create a certain amount of pieces then we don’t belong… We constantly compare our lives with others, sometimes of people we don’t even know, placing so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves and ultimately on our system, creating STRESS, the number one creativity killer!
To awaken your creativity you need to take care of yourself in all areas of your life, like a 5-year-old baby that needs to be nourished with good food, needs to play and get enough sleep and is held and loved deeply all the time, even during tantrums.
Thou we cannot ask our brain to go from 100 to 1 just by sitting still on demand! So even when you decide to slow down, you need to be easy with it! One little step at a time will give you sustainability.
Can I slow down without resistance?
It’s a myth that we can bypass resistance. Yes, we can take shortcuts because is the new acceptable way of doing things to save time so that we can do more, but it will eventually catch up with us again.
Good news: going through resistance will not only strengthen your emotional agility but also your ability to look for other solutions, A.K.A. awaken your creativity! Don’t fear resistance, is just another signpost to persevere and have faith that you are on your path: and your path to creativity is always the right one!
Life will always give us plenty of opportunities to challenge ourselves, to be fearful, and to get upset!
I am currently reading a funny book ‘Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up’ by Tom Phillips and it’s such a reminder that there will always be financial crises, various tragic moments, crazy leaders that completely lost it, but there will also be opportunities. Some governments will change in the world, there will be revolutions, and we will witness various scandals. Someone will invent something new, and someone will throw in the towel. There will be seasons changing. If we pay attention, more or less the same things happen every year and a large part of these are beyond our control (except climate change, which we are accelerating!). But what you are in charge of, is how responsible you are toward yourself, your creativity and your well-being. When you commit to making sustainable changes that will have a positive impact on your day to day, the world around you will also change and so how much more creative you can get. Promise!
Slowing down is also action!
Our nervous system needs to feel safe before we can introduce the idea (action) of slowing down.
Start with gentle movement, stretching, a little dance, and hug yourself (yeap you read it right!).
Another way is to put a hand in your heart and one in your belly and just take 5 deep breaths, it will immediately slow your heartbeat. Stand up and feel your feet on the ground, feel how they keep you rooted, this will make your feel grounded.
Focus on the sensations of your body, how does your back feel in contact with the chair where you seating? Your clothes on your skin? Look at your hand, and your nails without judgment. Do you feel cold or warm?
Connect to your body to connect with your creativity…
Reconnect with your body. Befriend all the sensations you feel, acknowledge them, (e.g.: hey fear I see and hear you!), show compassion and be gentle, (e.g.: it’s ok to feel scared, overwhelmed.. etc). Take it very slowly, breathe into it and whenever they feel uncomfortable, be kind and do not force yourself, go back the next day.
Once you practised these body exercises for at least a week or two, you have trained your nervous system to accept that it’s ok to relax, it’s ok to feel calm, and there’s no threat. You are now ready to awaken your creativity with other modalities.
Your creative wisdom is always there since you are born. Is not anywhere else, and if your intention this year is to get more of it, try and engage with one or more of the following activities
CONNECT TO NATURE
We are nature. We are of the earth. When we feel disconnected from our creativity most likely we are disconnected from our natural way of being and the best way to reconnect is being with the MASTER creator itself, our teacher, our mother: EARTH.
Connect with all the beauty she created for us to enjoy and to be inspired by; she’s very generous that way and we can access it freely at any time. To me, she’s the perfect manifestation of all creativity. When you look at nature as a manifestation of love and creativity, you are looking at yourself.
If you don’t have a park near you, you can just look at a flower or a house plant. The colours, the perfection of the shapes, the velvety feeling, the smell. Focus on all of the senses. There’s a Universe in a flower. It takes water and soil for it to grow. It takes light and darkness to flourish.
If you can, more than anything else, please spend as much time as you can in nature, it’s the best source of inspiration, it will immediately ground you and reconnect you back to your creative wisdom.
Fun looks like what fun means to you! If you have been worried and very serious for a long time, it’s about time to stop punishing yourself and bring fun back into your life!
I know when tragedies hit life, it is difficult to even think about having fun, but at some point, we really need to decide to make space for it.
Fun is different for everyone, and here are some ideas to start with:
Try doing something different for once and surprise yourself. Learn to inspire yourself first! Be your beacon of light! Write yourself a love letter! Do something that you might consider childish! Go on a slide, play with dough or with dolls! Play pretend with your child or spouse! Dance for yourself (I started doing again it in the morning, my pets are now my audience! It’s really funny!). Watch a cartoon.
What is that lifts you up? Remind yourself of those times you had such a good time and you laughed a lot! What were you doing? Can you bring that feeling back into your life and see if you can do more of it that applies to your current life?
The fun will raise your vibrations making your brain happy, and when your inner frequency is on the high, your creativity will naturally find its way to you!
Mindfulness for me is not just a practice, is a lifestyle choice. Is the art of living in the moment, because all we have is here and now.
We can practice mindful moments everywhere any time of the day, what’s important is that when you doing something you are paying attention to the moment. Of course, sometimes we need to layer time, however, try to carve some moments of mindfulness where you intentionally only do whatever you are doing, one thing at a time.
Here are 3 simple and informal ways how to practice mindful moments in your everyday life:
- when you shower, intentionally think about and feel the power of the water, the sensation that you feel on your skin, is it too hot or too cold? How about the soap? Is it too foamy, or oily? How does it feel on your skin?
- When you are driving: feel your seat, how do you feel about it? How about the steering wheel? How does it feel on your hands? How do you feel in command of your car?
- When you wash your teeth. Pay attention to your movements and all sensations that change inside your mouth. Focus on the toothpaste, the taste, the colour, and the freshwater..
When you live in the moment and you pay attention, your nervous system gets a signal that you are safe rewarding you with a creativity boost.
Journaling won so much attention in recent years because its benefits have been proven to improve our mental health. Journaling is, in fact, an effective tool for giving shape to your ideas, it helps find calm and practice inner listening as well as stimulating your creativity and training it.
There are different ways to journal. Some like prompts, some like stream of consciousness where you just write with no agenda, some like to pull a card from their favourite deck, and others journal on a lyric from a song. There’s no wrong way of doing it and again find a way that works for you!
If you are new to journaling, do not force yourself to write so many pages every day! Perhaps start with a prompt, set your alarm to 5 minutes to start with and if you still have something that you want to download, excellent, otherwise… Excellent!
Then try again tomorrow! To bring consistency, like for anything else make an intentional choice to do it, perhaps set an alarm as a reminder to do it.
Again, if you want it to be sustainable, it doesn’t have to feel like a chore, needs to give you joy, relief, and insight.
Sometimes you will cry your eyes out while writing but it will feel so liberating! If you haven’t tried before and you don’t know where to start, Isabella has a beautiful free guide for beginners where you get plenty of amazing prompts to inspire you and start your journey.
Writing is a beautiful expression that draws from our infinite well of imagination, of our inner creativity. The more you exercise it, the more you can have access to it.
A regular meditative practice will calm your mind which ultimately will work in your favour giving you free access to creativity once you start you will be hooked for life because you will be blown away by how many creative ideas you will get from just sitting still!
Start regulating the nervous system first if you are extremely stressed and overwhelmed, meditation may not be the best tool for you. Start regulating the nervous system first if you are extremely stressed and overwhelmed, meditation may not be the best tool for you.
Be gentle with yourself and do start slowly.
The goal of meditation is not to get good a meditation so you can rave with your spiritual pals there’s no goal to reach, it’s a never-ending journey.
However, one of the many reasons you want to start a meditation practice is quite selfish and is to get better at life, to get your juicy creativity flowing so that you can impress yourself, declutter your brain on demand, clean up your ‘inner house’ when you see those dusty thoughts so that ultimately you can extend your creative gifts to the world without the need of constantly running around grinding and looking elsewhere to be inspired.
Meditation is a very selfish practice because by learning to be more aligned with your inner self and your natural way of being, ultimately your values, you will be embodying your creativity!
It can be challenging to make something when you don’t feel at your best, this is because when something bad happens in our lives the first thing we do is, not do whatever makes us shine and feel better and our creativity suffers.
However, when we create something we are giving our brain the go-ahead to stop protecting us from whatever threat, giving us more of it in return.
If you are a maker of any kind and are not feeling creative lately, try something different. Try a new craft. See if you can enrol on a painting or watercolour class, macrame or any fibre workshops, or clay. Anything that will give your brain a boost of imagination and see life differently. In short: to awaken your creativity, just keep creating!
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