Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nuturing Your Creative Life

Creativity has been spoken of as a muse, which seems to imply a magical being, something outside of everyday life. Creativity, we imagine, is one of those things that you can't predict or force: it simply happens. Or, sometimes, doesn't. Looking at it that way, there doesn't seem to be much that we can do to actively encourage creativity.

And how wrong that would be. In fact, living creatively is a part of living in a fully human way, and just like every other facet of living, it can be encouraged and nurtured. Creativity is just as much about what we do (create art, write, or cook) as it is about how we see. Creativity, therefore, is not just for artists-- it's for everyone. It's the ability to be present and see the possibilities. And that is something we can all nurture.

Yet there's so much that can get in the way of nurturing your creative life. Perhaps the number one thing that blinds us to our creative selves is distraction. Distraction has a way of filling up the spaces in our lives so that we don't turn ideas over fully to find all of their creative potential. There's a reason why both corporations and artists turn to "retreats" to come up with new ideas or new work.

We must remove ourselves periodically from our distractions in order to really be creative. If you feel stuck, ask yourself: Have I been distracting myself lately? Have I been allowing time to turn ideas over (maybe even get a little bored)? Boredom can be a great friend to creativity, as any kid trapped inside on a rainy day could tell you. Without time to ponder and reach for new ideas, we end up treading the same paths over and over again.

What else can help to nurture creativity? Clearing clutter--mental and environmental-- can help us to get in touch with the wellspring of awareness and creative potential within us. A cleaning spree, a re-arranging of our studios or living spaces-- these can help to clear the mind as well.

Meditation, exercise, and simplifying our lives can also bring that clarity that allows new ideas to blossom in the mind. Simplifying our lives cuts down on the excess energy we are spending on maintaining too many projects, ideas, goals, and "what-ifs". That extra energy can then return to us and re-invigorate our awareness-- and creativity.

If distraction and clutter disrupt creativity, what encourages it? Creativity, like any creature, thrives in the right environment. Creativity withers under criticism, and it survives badly when other concerns crowd it out. To allow creativity to come forward means silencing the critical and worried voices in your head-- even if just for a while. Practice making a space for creative exploration where no critical thoughts are allowed. Practice shutting out your internal "editor" for most of the time. There is a time to evaluate ideas critically-- but allow that to come later.

And whatever you do, however you do it, love what you do. Praise yourself -- both to yourself and to others (I know it's hard sometimes!) When your endeavors meet with success-- as measured by others or yourself, honor the awareness and creativity that brought you to where you are. ❉

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