Creativity is a topic close to my heart, and one that I’ve recently felt called to delve into more deeply - both in my own practice and in my workshops. Before we dive in, let me ask you two questions…
Do you consider yourself to be a creative person?
Do you feel like your ability to be creative is limited to a couple of forms of expression - maybe you can write and cook, but you ‘can’t’ draw or dance?
As children we are unabashedly creative, but somewhere along the road to adulthood, most of us decide we’re either a creative person, or we’re not. Maybe your beliefs around your creative capacity were solidified in a singular moment - the time your classmates teased you because your drawing was unrealistic, or your brother told you that you couldn’t sing. Sometimes, one comment is all it takes for us to close off a creative avenue for good. For others, it’s a string of moments over time that reinforce our limiting beliefs.
We become mired in fears and limiting beliefs that stop us exploring our innate creativity: maybe you’re afraid you have no talent, that you’ll be criticised, or that you’ll never produce anything of value. Maybe you’ve always been praised for how logical and practical you are, so you doubt that creativity is something you possess at all.
Those limiting beliefs keep us small, but they aren’t the truth. We create barriers to our own creativity, which are simply our own projections. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, ‘If you’re alive, you are a creative person.’ Creativity is not a gene that you either have or don’t. It is not a switch that can be turned on or off.
Creativity is an energy that can be nourished and cultivated through practice.
Cultivating creativity requires remembering how to play - and that’s something that can feel really unfamiliar and intimidating for adults. We’ve internalised the the message that work is more important than play. We’re conditioned to value what Tami Lynn Kent calls ‘visible markers of achievement.’ Some examples of these visible markers could be: How far did I run? How high is my salary? How many projects did I complete this week? How many blog posts have I written this month?
To act from a place of greater alignment, we can prioritise holistic markers of success like: How present am I?’ Am I honouring my creativity? Am I making this choice out of love?’ Am I spending my energy on things that matter to me?
Honouring your creativity is not about producing a polished final product that’s worthy of being shared on Instagram (we’ve all been there!). It’s about cultivating creative energy with presence, curiosity and playfulness. Instead of attaching success to the results of your creativity, I invite you to reframe success by asking questions such as:
How present can I be?
Can I approach this with curiosity and a child-like playfulness?
Can I trust that my creative expression doesn’t have to be perfect, or change the world… it simply has to be my own?
There’s a term I learned at yoga teacher training which I love… Spanda (a Sanskrit term) is the subtle creative pulse of the universe as it manifests into form. It is the primordial vibration of the universe and of our being, which manifests in our ability to live from the heart and awaken to a state of wonderment. When you tune into this vibration, you tap into the creative energy that is an innate part of your being. Everything you create is an expression of spanda, this universal vibration that permeates your being. Tuning into this energy could be as simple as placing your hands on your heart and taking three expansive breaths, before moving into your creative play.
In my workshops, I offer the practice of making mandalas as a form of mindful self-expression. But your creative play doesn’t have to take the form of painting or drawing if that doesn’t excite you!
Creativity could look like rearranging your living room, wearing a beautiful outfit to work, cooking a meal for your loved ones, learning how to make latte art, collecting and arranging flowers, writing a letter, organising a birthday or baby shower, taking photos of your neighbourhood, having a one song dance party or planting a garden. The options are endless!
I invite you to carve out some time (it could be just a few minutes) to nurture your creative energy. Consider it an act of self-care. Take a moment to tune in and connect with the primordial energy of spanda with a few deep breaths, and then express your creativity (whatever that is for you) with curiosity and presence. Let me know how you go! Remember, success isn't defined by what you have to show for your efforts.