creativitycoaching

Nature Inspires Creativity

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When I received the inspiration for the name of my business Creativity Goes Wild I was on a modern day vision quest in an extraordinary canyon in southern Utah that allowed me to really open to the flow of new ideas. Along with the name, I also got that the essence of the work included three different elements: Nature, creativity and the soul which are aspects we can connect to that can really help us live full and authentic lives.

I have long thought of nature as the original artist. If you spend any time in nature and pay close attention, you become aware of the beauty and design and patterns in both small things like the symmetry in pine cones and snowflakes or on a grander scale the patterns in the erosion of mountains or the movement of clouds across the sky.

At first glance nature might look chaotic or random or disordered but the more you observe and learn about the natural world the more you become aware of the elegance of design in every creation. We can draw inspiration for our own creativity from spending time in Nature, the same way we feel inspired by visiting an art exhibit, going to a play or watching a good movie.

Spending time in nature actually slows down our brain waves, taking us from the beta waves where our mind attends to daily activities into alpha waves which offer a naturally meditative state where we access the part of our mind that has new thoughts and ideas, flashes of insight, and more readily makes connections. This can help us with the essence of the creative impulse and process.

Whenever I find myself stuck on a creative project I will go for a walk in nature and it always opens me back up to the flow. Or if I am looking for a place to begin a creative work I will plant the seed in my subconscious mind and then go to nature, not to think about it, but to allow the inspiration to rise to the surface of my mind.

Try it. Whether you like to sit in the garden or go for a walk among the trees, see if you don't find that connecting to nature doesn't open you up to new ideas and possibilities.

Creativity is Essential to Your Well Being

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Creative expression is an essential part of who we are as spirit and soul, and as important to our well being as eating healthy food and getting enough exercise, sleep and sunlight. When we experience creative flow the energy of the universe moves through us, which is why it feels so good. It opens us to new possibilities and awareness which can help us in every area of our lives and in these uncertain times.

The good news is that we are already more creative than we think. There are infinite ways we engage our creative self: teaching a class, planting a garden, creative problem solving at work or in parenting, decorating our home, cooking something new, writing a poem, singing in the shower, doing photography or taking a dance class. The list goes on. To more fully embrace our creativity it helps to understand exactly what creativity is and how it works.

Our rational, linear mind isn’t particularly creative. It can only take things that it already understands and move them around into a different configuration. When we have a brilliant idea or a profound solution to a problem or a flash of inspiration, it comes from beyond the mind. It comes out of our spirit, our heart, the essence of who we are.

People who are accomplished creatives all talk about being a vessel for something greater that flows through them as the source of their work. No matter how long I have worked with my own creativity, every time I tap the flow, there is always a “wow, where did that come from” feeling. Creative people who consistently produce notable work have somehow figured out how to get the mind out of the way and invite things to flow.

To benefit from being creative we do not have to be a great artist. We have only to look to children and the fun and joy they find in playing with imagination and creating something new. We all had that once. If we believe that we have lost it, it is never too late to get it back. In my coaching I’ve work with people, who are frustrated, exhausted, or overwhelmed by life, to begin embracing creativity in even small ways. It always helps. In my own life wherever I find myself in the doldrums even writing a quick draft of a poem lifts my spirit every time.

In being creative we increase our sense of aliveness and open to possibilities our minds never considered. Our mind fears uncertainty. We will always feel a bit uncomfortable trying something new yet we will feel inspired to take action. Even after all these years I feel resistant every time I sit down to create. I’ve learned not to let this stop me. We all can.

Start now. How can you make creativity part of taking care of yourself. Play with this. Be open to the possibilities. You will be glad you did.

Playing with the Imagination

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Albert Einstein

You must give birth to your images.
They are the future waiting to be born . . .
Fear not the strangeness you feel.
The future must enter you
long before it happens.
Just wait for the birth,
for the hour of new clarity

- Rainer Maria Rilke

I often say to my writing and creativity coaching clients that your imagination is smarter than you are; like intuition it gives you a deeper, faster, more expanded means of gaining critical insights and making important connections than the more limited workings of your linear, rational mind. Whether you want to write, engage your creativity more fully or develop an ability for creative problem solving, your imagination is an essential tool. To exercise your imagination try the age old favorite of looking for shapes in the clouds; or go sit outside on a bench to watch people go by and make up stories about their lives; or go to a park and lean against a tree and imagine what it would say to you if it could talk; or lay down on the earth and ask her what simple thing you could do to help the planet. Then be open to the ideas, images or thought that arise in your mind.

One exercise I like to work with is asking advice of an imaginary mentor. You think of a question and then write the answer yourself as if you are getting a response from someone you admire. You can ask Einstein, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson or your grandmother. A woman I worked with did this exercise and received what was clearly really good advice. Unaccustomed to using her imagination in this way she asked, "how do I know if I am actually channeling this person or if I'm making it up". It's a great question because when we use our imagination it will feel and seem like we are making it up. And that's exactly how the imagination works.

We have a hard time trusting the information and ideas we get because we live in a culture that dismisses the power of the imagination but saying, "oh, you're just making that up" or we tell our children "it's just your imagination". Imagination is a tool of human consciousness that is underdeveloped in the modern world. Yet the more you engage it and play with it the stronger the connection becomes and you will begin to feel the quiet excitement and joy that comes from expanding this ability, that will give you new ways to looking at problems and solving them.

You can even ask your imagination for suggestions on how best to cultivate it. Sit quietly for five minutes following the flow of your breath and calming your mind. Then be open to what your imagination has to say to you. Try writing without thinking for ten minutes as if you were taking dictation from your imagination. Or you could ask your imagination what it wants from you and then answer the question by writing or drawing or even spontaneous movement where you let the thoughts and feelings flow.

Imagination is one way we access our deeper mind. It is a place where you shed your everyday self, where sparks fly and time stands still. It requires a bit of solitude and idleness. It asks that you slow down and sit still with your mind clear and expectant. It asks that you be willing to play.

Creativity: Being Part of Creation

Well, you're right in the work, you lose your sense of time, you're completely enraptured, you're completely caught up in what you're doing, and you're sort of swayed by the possibilities you see in this work. . . .The idea is to be. . .so saturated with it that there's no future or past, it"s just an extended present in which you're making meaning. - Mark Strand, poet

The thoughts that come to you are more valuable than the ones you seek. - Joubert

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Some years ago I read a wonderful book by Matthew Fox, titled, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet. In this book Fox, a former Catholic priest who had been censured by the Church for putting forth a doctrine of original blessing as opposed to original sin, suggests that when we are creative we become co-creators with creation.

I had been involved with creativity for a long time by the time I read his book; first with dance and photography and then a couple of decades spent writing so I knew immediately the truth of what he was saying. I remember the first time I really got on a roll with my writing and I knew that something good was coming out of my pen, I actually stopped and looked around the room to see where it was coming from because I knew it wasn't exactly coming from me. Since then I've come to the sense that it's Spirit or my Higher Self working through me and I've been able to integrate working with these mysterious forces as I write.

The word Muse has its origins in being intiated into the mysteries. And its important to understand that this connection is available to everyone not just a select few who are somehow born with this special gift. It is also not restricted to the arts.

The gift of creativity is woven deep into our being. Everytime we solve a problem we didn't "think" we could solve we are drawing on this invisible resource. We experience it in cooking, gardening, decorating our homes, raising our children, healing, teaching and business when we get the inspiration to do something in a new and expanded way. When we tap into this ability it feels great, it feels divine.

Regardless of where this creative inspiration comes from I've found that the more I show up to the practice of writing or anything else, the more I have a feel for working with this creative flow. It's like a muscle that gets stronger with use.

Joan King, a neuroscientist who has studied brain activity describes in her book Cellular Wisdom, "While such brainstorming [found in creative flow] is occurring, more and more neurons and neural pathways are being activated in the neural net. Consciousness acts like a spotlight, shining here and there, making connections, illuminating thought and memories, trying out possible solutions. As the process continues, more and more neurons are recruited, activating more of the great intermediate [neural] net." The key here is to stop thinking with your linear mind and let the creative imagination really run. Our linear mind has to get out of the way to let our big mind make its leaps and forge its connections.

Consider all the ways you are already being creative and what it feels like. Is there a sense of excitement and expansion when you exercise your creativity?. What would it takes for you to build more muscle in this area? I think the changes and challenges in the world today are actually calling forth this ability in each of us. They are asking us to embody our creativity in every area of our lives and in our contributions to the world. The beauty is that creation is waiting to help. We just need to show up, let go and step into the flow of being a co-creator. Our willingess is our invitation.


Are You Embracing Joy or Chasing Happiness

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We can spend so much of our lives in the pursuit of happiness that we often neglect to savor or even notice our moments of joy. Happiness feels more a long term goal, something we can be ever in search of. Joy is more an in the moment experience that has the quality of deep satisfaction.

There are certain experiences that universally ignite joy in a person. The sight of a rainbow or a hummingbird or a dolphin or cherry blossoms. A single flower has the capacity to fill us with joy if we let it. Joy is our reward for following what feeds our heart and soul. Our joy drives us toward what feels good to us.

Creativity can be a great source of joy. The act of being creative whether we finish anything or make anything that we consider good has at its core a sense of joyful satisfaction. As a writer with decades of experience it is that pleasure in the process that has sustained me over the years. 

Recently I’ve started working with watercolors having been drawn to purchase a wonderful little instruction kit. My mind thinks I’m not very good but my creative spirit is having fun just playing and learning something new. 

The joy at the heart of creativity is the deep soul satisfaction that comes from creating anything new. We open to the flow of something greater than ourselves and find ourselves fully present in the moment where we seem to have all the time in the world.

Embracing joy is like taking time out to appreciate being alive. Consider for yourself what brings you joy and intentionally increase that presence in your world. What else can you do to feed your creative soul? As we regularly embrace what brings us joy we may just find our happiness.

Creating with All Your Heart

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If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing. - Marc Chagall

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I recently saw a short film tribute to Chuck Berry, the undisputed father of rock and roll, with comments from John Lennon of the Beatles and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones both saying how much they admired Berry and tried to emulate his guitar work. Berry himself said that his secret was that he felt the music. Berry played with all his heart.

In my own creative work, especially with my writing, I have long been aware of the importance of connecting to the heart; both in the context of finding subjects and themes that make our hearts sing but also creating from the feeling place of the heart, from what we love and care about.

As Robert Frost said, “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” I always know that if I am moved in my own heart by a piece of my writing then it will genuinely touch other people.

For whatever you want to create, imagine dropping down into your heart and drawing on that feeling place for your inspiration and guidance. One of my clients envisions a wooden staircase leading from her mind to her heart and sees herself walking down them and when she reaches the bottom she immediately feels the clarity and expansiveness her heart has to offer.

Centering in our heart gives us access to our connection to all of creation which inspires and informs the highest expression of our creative self. It allows us to live and create from the place of expanded possibilities.



How Getting Creative Can Help Our World

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I just watched a video of a 42 year old neurosurgeon from California who dances for his patients to cheer them up during their check ups. He gets them dancing too, including a young woman in a wheelchair seen waving her arms and shimmying her chair. I love that this doctor had found such a creative way to tend his patients spirits as well as their bodies. I imagine it’s a great help to their healing.

It has me thinking more about how being creative can help heal our world. Creativity allows us to access new ways of looking at a problem and find fresh solutions. We touch expanded capacities and find ourselves capable of more we think. We connect more to our heart and spirit. We are often surprised and delighted by the unexpected inspirations that arrive. We can learn to bring the creative process into every area of our lives to help ourselves, each other and the world.

The simplest way to work with this process is to ask a question like “how can I help the world today” or “how can I bring more creativity into my life” or "how can this problem I am having in my life", and then let it go. Don’t try to figure out the answer with your mind. Rather let the response drop in as an awareness or intuition, a flash of insight or an ah..ha moment where you sense you are on to something.

I do this all the time, especially when I don’t know what to do. Like with this newsletter. Three days before the first of the month I had no idea what to write about. I felt completely uninspired. So I silently asked the question “what’s my topic this month?”. The next day I saw the video about the dancing doctor. That inspired the subject of how to work with creativity to help each other and the world.

When faced with the events in the world today and the constant bombardment of information we can easily feel overwhelmed and helpless to affect change. Knowing that our creative self is eager to assist us can help. So ask a question on an issue concerning you, someone or something you care about or the world at large, and see what comes. Then take some kind of action on the awareness, no matter how small. See where it takes you.

Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. That’s part of being creative. We expand beyond who we think we are into more of who we really are. The rewards are many including an increased sense of empowerment and happiness. Play with this. The world, as you know, needs our gifts and inspirations now more than ever.