Getting in tune with your body can be a powerful tool in accessing your creativity.
Feeling uninspired, or just looking for your next big idea? You could get quite the creativity boost by trying these three practices.
Look to your own sky.
Rashmi Bismark, M.D., a preventative medicine physician and Yoga Medicine instructor, noted that there have been a slew of studies touting the health benefits of meditation on health, but few about its effects on creativity.
A small 2012 study found that open-monitoring style of meditation—when you have a receptive, open awareness compared to focusing on an item or thought—was better at improving creativity.
Bismark recommends a form of open-monitoring meditation known as The Sky of Awareness. To do it, settle into a comfortable seated posture and imagine your mind as expansive as the sky. Take in environmental sounds and sensations in your body. When it comes to thoughts, emotions and images, remember that they change like weather patterns.
“Instead of ignoring them or pushing them aside, see if it is possible to open attention to all of them coming and going, along with sounds and sensations,” she says. “Allow for the unfolding of life just as it is, remembering the breath is always available as an anchor when you need it.”
Kate Kerr, a Canada-based mindfulness consultant, said mindfulness is key to cultivating creativity.
“Mindfulness is about having a curious, open attitude to your present moment experiences, whatever they are,” she said. If we can cultivate a beginner’s mind—seeing things from a new perspective—it can increase our skill in seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes and innovative thinking.”
Not only is Nadi Shodhara Breathing (also known as alternate nostril breathing) a great way to literally clear your head of congestion, but it helps people calm down to reach a state of creativity.
To begin, close your eyes and fold down your index and middle fingers of your right hand. Put your thumb on your right nostril and other fingers gently resting on your left nostril or just relaxed. Breathe in through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril using your ring and pinky finger and release the right nostril, exhaling through it. Inhale through your right nostril. Close your right nostril and release closure of your left. Exhale through your left nostril, and then inhale from it to begin a new round. Breathe normally afterward.
“You can use this breath for several minutes or until you feel relaxed,” says Crystal M. Hill, a yoga teacher and coach at Pura Vida Yoga in Wisconsin.
Send Love to Your Second Chakra
Got some time to move around? In her Yoga for Creativity course, Mary Beth LaRue focuses on activating the body’s second chakra because it governs creativity. Located near our hips and sacrum, having this energy in balance can free our minds for optimal creativity. Poses such as Low Lunge, Half Monkey god and Reclining Bound Angle can loosen up the hips.
Whether it’s a breathing exercise, repeating a mantra or practicing mindfulness, it looks like those types of activities are key to cultivating creativity. After all, don’t your best creative moments occur when you’re not forcing your mind to be creative? Sometimes, making space for creativity to occur is all we need.
“When we intentionally pay attention to present moment experience with kind curiosity and patience, we create the space to connect with our innate strengths, including creativity,” Bismark says. “When we can bring a loving mindful presence to whatever it is we are doing, we naturally create the conditions necessary for creativity to flow through us.”
Kristen Fischer is the author of Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids (SoundsTrue, 2017).