Are you looking for new ways to spark your creativity and open your mind? Have you tried meditation before but found it too difficult and couldn’t access the benefits? Do you have no idea how meditation and yoga can benefit your creativity but want to find out?
Join me in this episode where I’ll be talking about how we can open our minds up to a whole new world of possibilities through these ancient practices. I’ll share how I use meditation 90% of the time and it doesn’t involve sitting cross-legged chanting ‘om’ at all! Find out how you can start a yogic or meditation practice that will do so much more than reduce your stress but open up your creativity to a whole new level.
Links to Yoga and Meditation App Resources I mentioned in this episode:
Yoga Download: https://www.yogadownload.com/
Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/
Got a burning question you’d love me? Send me a voice message and I’ll answer in a future episode at https://www.speakpipe.com/CreativePower
To find out how to work with me visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower
For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/
Welcome to Creative Power! In the last few episodes, we’ve been exploring how to support ourselves and all the emotional blocks that may be coming up at the moment.
With spring there are lots of new ideas peeking their head above the surface and this can lead to impostor syndrome as I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself. I’ve talked about how working with our inner child and playfulness can be really beneficial for helping us move through those spaces.
And today I want to bring some new tools to the table that can really help you open up your creative mind to possibilities. Sometimes when new ideas surface, not only are there all these fears of who are we to bring them to life but there’s also this question of HOW can we bring these ideas to life?
As creators, we spend a lot of time making connections and juxtapositions to all sorts of things. We find meaning everywhere and translate it into something others can understand. But sometimes you know what… ideas don’t flow so easily. Sometimes we can see the glimmer of something amazing in the corner of our eye but don’t know how to flesh it out into something more solid.
It’s a tendency I’ve observed in lots of creative people, we are collectors. And some of us know how to assemble these pieces into something we can use better than others. But sometimes our own stuff gets in the way of us seeing things clearly.
Enter yoga and meditation to open up and clarify the creative mind. And I’m bringing both of these to the discussion, not just meditation because at the core of both is mindfulness. And mindfulness is where magic can happen.
Way back in episode 5 – we’re now on episode 20, wow! But way back in episode 5 I talked about mindfulness and the benefits it has on creativity. Everyone knows mindfulness is great for mental well-being, all things from emotional and behavioural regulation to reductions in anxiety and depression. And in that episode, I talked through how you can combine mindfulness with creative activities so it’s well worth checking out if you’d like to try some REALLY simple creative mindful practices.
However, today I want to talk about how these practices of yoga, meditation and even things like tai chi can support your creative mind.
So let’s start with yoga. Yoga is all about bringing balance to the body and mind, expanding your consciousness and awareness of yourself. There are numerous health benefits to it that I’m not getting into today but just know this; yoga is an ancient practice. Our ancestors knew what wisdom was to behold from bringing ourselves into alignment across the board in this way so naturally, it’s going to have a positive effect on our creativity too.
And as you do yoga, you work with a meditative, mindful state too. But unlike meditation, you’re also working with the physical body too so actually I think it’s a great starting point for anyone who wants to practice being more mindful but is struggling with meditation. In fact, it’s how my journey started with both practices.
I did yoga a lot in my late teens/early twenties. And back then the body was much more willing so I found it easier to spend more time implementing the meditation and mindfulness aspects and focus on my breathing and being really present in the moment.
How did that help my creativity? Well for a start, I was much less stressed when I did yoga regularly. And I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again for those at the back, creativity is the first thing that stalls when we’re stressed. Why? It’s not essential to survival mode which is what we slip into when we get stressed.
So in short, less stress = more room for creativity.
But more than that, yoga enhanced my focus and concentration. When you are consistently bringing yourself back to the present moment and focusing on that breathing while you are in a pose, you learn to let go of all the other noise in your mind. And this has a knock on effect in the rest of your life too. You may not be consciously being mindful but you have been rewiring neural pathways in your brain in your yoga practice that will activate in other parts of your life too.
There’s even been studies that indicate yogic breathing increased alpha brain waves. These alpha brain wave patterns are associated with not only lower levels of stress but greater creativity levels. It is your alpha brain waves that bring those eureka moments. It’s also when you get into your flow state. And when you flow… so does your creativity.
Yoga also encourages us to move our bodies. Now, this won’t be the same for every creative practice but by and large, most of them are fairly sedentary. We sit at the desk designing on the computer, at the easel to paint or at the piano to play.
Getting out of our heads and into our bodies by moving in ways we normally wouldn’t and activating muscles that don’t get used much in daily life can only be beneficial. Moving in new ways, and building that self-awareness can encourage our minds to think in new ways too. And isn’t that what creativity is all about anyway?
And over the last few episodes as we’ve been talking about dealing with clearing emotional blocks stopping us from reaching our creative potential… yoga can help do that too. Because it is all about bringing the mind and body into balance, it helps energy flow and moves within us.
There’s a 20 minute chakra clearing meditation I like to use from Yoga Download – each pose has been chosen specifically to unblock one of the seven chakras in the body and is also presented with a sound and affirmation for you to do while in the pose and it really does open you up mentally and physically. It’s one of my favourite routines to do whenever I start to feel myself blocked or stalling creativity. Because sometimes we don’t have to go digging for some emotional memory to clean. Sometimes we can move through and release something in a different way as long as we’re open to it.
That’s the whole point I’m trying to make with this episode really, isn’t it? Try something new. Open your mind up to the possibility that it will have benefits beyond just making you feel good with a rush of endorphins. Set the intention when you go to your yoga mat or you start your tai chi opening movements that it will help you get out of your head or improve your creativity.
Because intention is everything, it really does carry you forward with these things. You may not have the perfect form or be able to do every pose with ease (I know I can’t anymore!) but trying with the intention that it will be beneficial regardless of how well you do it is massive.
So often we are afraid of trying in case we’re not good at it but then we lose out on the benefits altogether. And we prevent ourselves from getting any better if we don’t start or giving ourselves the opportunity to discover anything new about ourselves or the activity in the process.
On that note, let me tell you about my meditation practice. I don’t meditate in the traditional sense of the word about 90% of the time and I think my life and creativity are all the better for it.
Meditation came to my attention in 2017. By this point me doing yoga was a distant memory and I’d evidently become stressed out to the max. I was working as a wedding photographer and long story short, had a panic attack at a wedding that led to regular panic attacks. Admittedly my nan had died earlier that year really unexpectedly and I’d been the strong one in the family for everyone else so I was carrying… a lot and then I cracked.
I dabbled with meditation and combined with retreating safely back into my comfort zone of graphic design, the panic attacks subsided. Until a couple of years later when our neighbours decided to embark on a campaign of harassment against us. It was awful.
Aside note, the neighbours have recently moved so it’s all over but at the time, it was stressful and downright scary at times. I went to the doctor and they said they’d rather not medicate me if they could help it, would I be willing to try meditation instead first?
I went home and downloaded the Headspace app on their recommendation and followed the basics in the app for about a year. And to some degree, it did help. I learnt the basic principles of clearing my mind, focusing on my breath etc.
Buuuut I don’t think I’m cut out for a completely empty head like that for long. In fact, I don’t think it’s an easy space for any creative to get to because we’re just so full and busy in our heads, right?
So I decided to start exploring some other meditation apps. Insight Timer was a great one which is free so go download it and give it a whirl. What I loved about it though and this is where it really works for us creative people is it wasn’t just meditation in the traditional sense. There’s guided visualisations and meditations galore on there. You can find something to suit everyone.
These guided meditations play right into creators as primarily visual people. They transport us to other places. They help us conjure up worlds to explore and then within these worlds, that’s where the mindfulness and wisdom comes in, you can learn something about yourself in that world.
My friend uses a meditation that takes her into a crystal cave and a goddess will appear giving her advice on whatever questions she asks and I love that way of using meditation.
And it’s really important to explore what works for you. For some people, the silence and emptiness of their mind is really what they need. That’s where they gain the insight, the inner peace, the new ideas. For other people, guided meditations in various otherworldly settings is exactly what they need to help spark off something within them and solve problems.
I eventually settled on using an app called Synctuition which starts with a few minutes setting up the theme of the meditation and guiding you into a more relaxed state. Then, you’re left with 3D sounds for the remainder to explore and see what comes up. So you’ve been given a frame, context for that particular meditation and then are free to roam the wilds of your mind.
I love that. It’s when I get my best ideas because it allows for any and all possibilities to arise. Sometimes there’ll be memories or people from my life to speak to, sometimes I’ll go in with a question that needs answering and 9 times out of 10, it’s usually a character from a TV show or film I love that shows up to bring their nugget of wisdom that helps me out.
Sometimes I really do go there for peace and quiet. But unlike the empty thoughts approach, I’ll envisage myself and conjure up an image of say, being on a hammock by the beach and just take a break. Whatever I need, I can create in my meditative state.
But in that state, way down those alpha brain waves, we’re less in control. We’re more relaxed and in flow and this allows for completely unexpected things to pop up. The amount of times I’ve gone deep into a meditation and been accosted by Yoda wanting to give me some advice or knowledge, well… unreal, it is. I’m not sorry for that joke.
And of course, it could all be seen as a metaphor, an imagining, made up from our own minds. What if it is? The deepest wisdom is often within ourselves and most struggle to access it so if this helps open us up to it, does it matter?
I think what I’m really trying to say is, meditation isn’t all about sitting cross-legged saying ‘om’ a lot, speaking in riddles and having a mind totally void of thoughts. That’s one way to do it and if it works for you, great.
But if it doesn’t, don’t dismiss it off the bat. Give yourself a chance to try and find a way to make it work for you. Explore different sounds to meditate too, try different apps, different visualisations, different voices guiding you through the relaxation to find what you need.
Because one thing I know about meditation is when it works for you, wow does it open up the mind. It’s given me access to so many creative ideas that I don’t think I would have come to otherwise. It’s helped me solve problems that felt way beyond my conscious reach. It’s opened up my playfulness and creativity because how can you not have a whale of a time running round with characters from your favourite shows for 20 minutes.
If nothing else, it’s a fun escape from the doldrums of daily life. For me, meditation did much, much more than help me manage my stress and anxiety. It sounds cliché but it really did open my mind up to a whole new world of possibilities.
So give it a try, or yoga or tai chi. See what they spark within you. At the very least, the sense of inner peace will allow your conscious creativity to flow more. But allow for the possibility that it broadens your horizons to so much more as well. Be open to anything and everything, it’s all there if you want it.
And if you do go onto a journey into wonderland exploring meditation, I’d love to hear about it and what it’s done for your creativity. Don’t forget you can always leave me a voice message on Speakpipe to tell me what results you get. And I will be sure to leave plenty of links in the show notes to some of the apps and resources I’ve mentioned today.
But for now, good luck with your meditation journey, I hope you find it as enlightening as I did!