Nicole Thomas Knits

Cultivating Creativity for Mindful Living

Children play, create and imagine with reckless abandon; as we grow and become adults many of us begin to lose touch with our creative side. I would be willing to wager that most adults have uttered the phrase, I am not creative.

While yes, there is a lot of creativity in traditional art forms such as writing, sculpting or painting, the truth is, there is creativity in everything we do. Whether it is at home or at work, the very fact that we survive and thrive day to day as modern humans, is a feat in creativity. That report you wrote for your boss; the spreadsheet you developed to track expenses or calculate profit margins; the impossible problem you solved when there seemed to be no options; organizing your family schedule with the million afterschool activities, appointments, playdates, lunches, dinners that seem to go along with our insanely busy lives these days; these are all amazing creations and accomplishments.

There is a false belief being perpetuated that if we aren’t a fine artist, that we are not a creative person. And, even more troublesome, that doing something creative is an after thought – something to do when all other things in life are complete and calm. Life is busy, especially if there are kids and work and a home to keep clean. But taking time to do something creative, something just for ourselves, makes managing all those other things so much easier. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Having a creative outlet, in any expression, helps fill that cup. It is a form of self-care, just as having a facial, taking a bath or going to yoga class is self-care. Creating is about the journey, not the final product. So what if our painting, blog post, or sewing is messy and unusable? We turned inward and connected to ourselves, disconnected from our outside world for even just a few minutes, and refilled that cup.

So, what does this have to do with yoga and mindfulness?

There are many aspects of yogic philosophy that encourage this connection within. Yoga means union – a mind-body connection; a connection of the individual soul with the divinity around us; finding that balance of calm and presence in a world that celebrates busy. As with expressing ourselves creatively, yoga is about our individual journey, not the end state. Yes, we want to get fit, relieve stress, or heal old wounds but the path to wellness, balance divinity, is ongoing; once we reach that state of bliss, we begin to work toward the next. We are constantly building upon what we have learned in yoga – when we first start out, we cannot touch our toes in a forward fold but after some time, it gets easier and easier. As the saying goes, its not about reaching the ground, but what we learn on the way down.

For me, yoga itself is a form of creative expression. As a yoga teacher, coming up with class plans and flows based on themes or particular areas of the body, is a way to express myself. I love learning about the Chakras and find ways to incorporate my learning into my classes to help my students learn and grow spiritually. I love learning about the anatomy of the body and how we can keep ourselves mobile and agile as we age; again this is something I artfully weave into my classes so my students are learning the why behind everything we do (a key element of adult learning and retention) so that they can keep their bodies fit and healthy. When I lead my students through a guided meditation, I choose my words careful to help them create the world I am describing in their own minds, so they can feel the grass or smell the ocean right from their yoga mat.

The more we as students (of life and of yoga), find ways to tap into our own inner creativity, the easier our yoga practice will become. When we let go of our self-judgement of how our painting looks and just appreciate the effort we have made, the easier it will be to let go of that same judgement when we are struggling to balance in tree pose. When we stop comparing our outcomes to our neighbours, whether its in the real or virtual world, we will stop comparing ourselves to the person on the mat next to us when their variation of a pose looks different from ours.

Just like we take the time to schedule yoga class into our weekly schedule, I encourage you to schedule time to do something creative. Tap into those ideas floating around your head that are being put aside for when you have more time and paint that painting, draw that picture, knit that scaf, plant that garden, write that book, develop that app, play that instrument, start that blog, play that game.  Don’t know how – take a class, watch a YouTube video, ask a friend.

As the brilliant Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” And with that in mind I say, let’s get using that creativity that is within us all, create more in the world around us and change the narrative around what it means to be truly creative.

What is one thing you can do creatively this week? What’s one thing you already do that you can recognize the creative side to? Let me know in the comments below.

And join me on Saturday, July 13th 2019 at Radiant Joy Yoga in Uxbridge, Ontario for Creativity Flows – a Mindful Art & Yoga Workshop! Click here for more details.

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