I never set out to be a writer thinking it would make me more conscious. In fact, when I first began writing I was as unconscious as they come.
I was continually in my head and thinking up ways to be smart with words—like all those writers I imitated and admired (who were mostly male, and dead). I thought if only I could write something really clever then people would read it and think “wow she’s smart”!
Of course my ego-driven agenda in pursuit of high art was bound to crash and burn.
Looking back I see that this low point in my life taught me a valuable life lesson—that creative works are divinely motivated. Call it God or call it the Universe. Either way you look at it, there’s magic and mystery in listening to our own creative murmurings and plugging into a creative power that is all around us if only we are open and willing to access it.
Yet before I learned this powerful lesson I became ill with an autoimmune disorder, was forced to leave my job in government, and begin a lengthy process of healing. During this period I had a story that would visit me, in my dreams, in the street or while on the bus. The story wanted me to give birth to it and wouldn’t let me go until I eventually found a publisher for it.
At the same time this was happening, I had moved on from a lengthy dysfunctional relationship and was seeing a craniosacral therapist that gradually—after years of neglect—brought me back to my body.
During these therapy sessions my mind and my body fought wildly with each other for supremacy. I wasn’t yet a fully integrated human being as my head was cut off from the rest of me. Though, as I settled more deeply into the process of emotional, psychological and psychic re-stitching and well being, I began to see what I thought was my precious mind, actually played a relatively small part in creating. I realized that for years I had been forcing my writing, trying to make it look a certain way–when really, it was simply asking me to witness its unfolding.
Finally, I stopped living in thinking mode and embraced living in being mode.
Many ancient cultures believe creativity begins in the body.
For example, in Hindu metaphysical traditions, the second chakra resides two inches below the navel and is rooted in the spine. Sexuality, creativity, intuition, and self-worth come from this place. So when we approach creativity solely as a mind-based activity we undermine its breadth. We also deny ourselves the pleasure of accessing sensory details that enable us to write and create from a truly visceral and experiential place.
Through our imaginations and openness we can create whatever we desire. Sadly many of us don’t act on this intuition due to fear or lack of confidence in our abilities or resources.
As children our worlds pulse with sensual awareness; we’re little inventors making up fantastical possibilities and worlds in our heads—traveling through imagined landscapes and time periods as freely as we might turn the pages of a book. Yet as we grow up, we often suppress those qualities that make us unique—that make us feel truly alive.
Locked inside each of us is boundless creative energy that’s wholly ours to explore. The more we get out of our heads and grounded in our bodies, the more we can learn to cultivate our imagination and free ourselves.
Take some time to review the seven tips below and discover how they might help you integrate a daily creative practice into your life.
1. Be Committed. Think about a creative activity you enjoy and commit 30 minutes during one day to it starting this week or the next. Tell those you live with that you’ve committed to it. If you have small children then work out with your partner or a friend when they can help out so that you have the time freed up beforehand. Schedule it into your calendar or weekly diary so you don’t forget. It’s not easy showing up. Voices in your head may try to tell you that what you’re doing isn’t important or worthwhile. Accept this as part of the process of creating and stick to your scheduled commitment.
2. Create an Inspirational Space. Choose a spot in your home where you can create freely; a quiet place that feels safe for you to play and connect. If you live with others then you may wish to talk to them, as they may have some ideas you hadn’t thought of. Place items in your space that inspire you, such as a Buddha statue, vase of flowers or an uplifting photo of nature.
3. Acknowledge Your Doubts. As you begin to create, acknowledge any doubts or judgements that may come up about yourself, as this will give them less power over you. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls resistance a “universal force” that wants to keep things as they are. Its sole purpose is to stop creation from flowing. Keep this in mind when self-sabotaging thoughts visit you. The voices aren’t you but rather a negative force that doesn’t want you to grow into your fullness.
4. Be Aware of Negative Thoughts. Notice any questions that come up, such as, “What if I fail, or succeed?” or “Why should I even bother?” As you continue to create, the voices may grow in strength. Stay the course! Recognize them as not being who you are. Remember that all creators go through this, even the most celebrated ones. Try not to take it personally, but rather as a sign that you’re on the right path.
5. Be Open. Go into those little known places that call to you. Writing and any art or creative practice allows us to experience profound moments of awakening, but also to encounter the darker places, the parts of us that we don’t always wish to see. Shine your creative light on them. When you do this you’ll see that they may not be as frightening as you had imagined.
6. Allow Growth. Perfection kills creativity and so when we strive for it, our work suffers and we come up short. The ego wants things to be a certain way and causes us pain as a result. True growth comes from letting go, being open to the unknown, and continuing to explore creatively even if our ego may judge us as a failure. When we feel the ego judging, just acknowledge it yet don’t ‘buy into’ it.
7. Commit to Creating. Give yourself over to it fully. Play. Make mistakes. Failure is part of making. Practice radical self-love by commending yourself on your progress at each step of the way. This practice will help to temper the voices. Enjoy the process. Then repeat!
So how will you show up creatively for yourself? Today, tomorrow and the next day?
Creativity is your divine birthright.
My deep-felt hope for you is that you will recognize creativity not as a “nice-to-have” but as a vital part of your journey—a way to truly connect to what you are and who you were meant to become.
Author: Lissa M. Cowan
Assistant Editor: Tammy Novak / Editor: Renée Picard
Image Credit: Brad Zylman, DeviantArt.com