November 25, 2018
The Core Value of Creativity
~ Zen Master Seng-Tsan
Creativity, Intuition, Adaptability, Innovation, Fluidity, Flexibility, Insight, Movement, Optimism, Originality, Progressiveness, Imagination
Part VII: Creativity
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved art. And, for as long as I can remember I’ve confused art with creativity. This week we’ll bust the myth of creativity by looking at how this value can be re-imagined and re-envisioned to play a stimulating and invigorating role in your life.
My Uncle Bill was like a magical grandfather and fairy godmother all wrapped into one white mustached package. Together with my father and Paul, my Uncle’s partner of nearly 50 years, we made regular visits to museums, symphonies, plays, ballets, and anything that might instill a felt-sense of human potential into our lives. We traveled the Greek Islands when I was twelve years old and he regaled me with the mythology of ancient Greece, tales of Greek gods, and the history of the theatre. My uncle was a masterful storyteller. A skill that never faded even as Alzheimer’s cruelly stole his memory, and his life, away. I have always loved all forms of art: theatre, music, poetry, storytelling, and the innate human desire to share and inspire. Humans are incredible. I am mesmerized by what we are capable of imagining. Across the planet and across all of time we share an inherent drive to express ourselves. But creativity is often misunderstood.
Creativity is embedded in your very being. You are adaptable, insightful, and most of all, innovative. You were created into a human body and by that reality alone, you are instinctually creative. Maybe you create exquisite spreadsheets! Maybe you create a loving home for yourself and your family. Whether you are “left-brained” or “right-brained,” a linear thinker or someone who thinks outside of the lines, you contribute daily to the creation of life. Do not underestimate your own inherent creativity. If the word “creativity” doesn’t land for you try choosing one of the words from the list above and replace it.
One definition states, “creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, and interpretations.” Tesla? Creativity transcending the traditional ideas and rules. Bird scooters? Same…although sometimes frustrating in their poor sidewalk placement and often terrifying when flying past your car in the dark of night. If you don’t live in Los Angeles, stay tuned, Birds are probably headed your way next! Now, you might not be the next Elon Musk but here are some things to consider:
You waking up to your potential, getting out of the job, relationship, or living situation that no longer aligns with the vision you hold for your life is creativity in action. You learning something new, reading a book, taking a course, listening to a podcast, trying a new yoga pose, or otherwise challenging yourself to acquire a new skill is creativity coming to life through your choices. You taking the time to write out your goals, establish clear action steps to achieving them, and sharing them with others to help hold yourself accountable is creativity at work in the world. Take a moment right now and look at your life. Can you see all of the places where you have underestimated how creativity is already at play? Acknowledge yourself and acknowledge how this value is already permeating your life.
Creative Growing Pains
Have you ever been jealous of someone who achieved a goal you once imagined for yourself? Never. Right? With a stream of stunning social media images filling your days, comparison is at an all-time cultural high. It’s unhealthy, unhelpful, and untrue. Let’s clarify one thing: jealousy and ambition are two very different emotions and my guess is that you often feel ambitious, not jealous, so it can be helpful to differentiate the two.
Jealousy has a tone of resentment and rivalry. Jealousy communicates fear, uneasiness, or vigilance. Ambition on the other hand says, “Wow! That’s an amazing achievement, idea, or opportunity. I would love to reach that pinnacle too.” When I see women I admire publishing books, enjoying speaking opportunities, or teaching across the world, I feel SO proud of them! When I see their potential coming to life in the world, it helps me awaken to MY potential. I can want something similar, feel into my own goals and vision, and simultaneously be so happy for them. This is ambition at work, not jealousy. In Buddhism we call this Mudita or sympathetic joy. It is the opposite of jealousy. The next time you feel “jealous” of someone else’s achievements, take a moment and consider: What about this do I admire? How would a similar achievement align with my personal goals and vision? What steps can I start taking now to achieve my own, unique version of this?
To have the courage to act on your creativity means you must be willing to take risks, and be equally willing to fail. Ugh. I know. A collective groan. Those of us recovering perfectionists find this to be the most challenging and scary aspect to acting on our creative vision. But as the saying goes, “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.” Every single time I have failed I have learned an equally valuable lesson. Every single time I have failed I have grown exponentially. Staying in my comfort zone has never led me to new opportunities but, reaching beyond my perceived limitations has thwarted me into greater professional, spiritual, and personal evolution. Every. Single. Time.
A Light Dose of Science
Some people might have a genetic predisposition toward creativity, but studies continue to demonstrate that creativity can be nurtured, practiced, and trained. Robert Epstein PhD says, “There’s not really any evidence that one person is inherently more creative than another.” It’s helpful to make creativity a habit by learning new skills, taking on challenges, and pursuing new information. And no matter who you are, every industry and line of work depends on creativity – scientists envisioning the next breakthrough, entrepreneurs imagining the next phase for their business, householders coming up with next week’s dinner menus! Set the intention to make creativity a habit in your life. Personally I do this every week by cooking something new, listening to podcasts, reading, and continuing to study with inspiring teachers. Albert Einstein probably said it best, “once you stop learning, you start dying.” So, not to put any pressure on you, but what are you learning? If you’re not learning something new right now, what steps are you ready to take to re-start the process?
Reducing stress expands your creativity. The American Psychological Association says stress is a well-known creativity killer. As are time constraints. Carve out one place in your schedule each week for creative expression. Make this a nonnegotiable. You need space in your life so that you can imagine, plan, and create a life of purpose, possibility, and potential. Imagination needs space. If you’re on the go all of the time or if you live the mantra “there’s not enough time,” you will strangle newness out of your life. Because I hold creativity so near and dear to my heart, it means I often say “no” to certain opportunities or events with friends in order to ensure the time I’ve designated for creativity is not sacrificed.
This is why I believe making space for personal retreats is so critical to mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. By stepping away from the frenetic pace of life you gain a renewed perspective on what is most important to you and where you most want to be placing your time and energy. Each time I take a personal retreat I experience a huge breakthrough. Often these “personal retreats” mean taking just a few days off from my daily routine to get out into nature, journal, read, and have meaningful conversations about the trajectory of my life. You might not be in the position to take an international trip but you can create a personal retreat for yourself at home. Allocate a few days as we head into the new year to explore this value in-depth with the questions, suggestions, and ideas posed above and throughout this Values Igniting Possibility series.
No matter your life experience, perceived talents, or long-held judgements you are creative in your own, unique way. Taking time to explore the value of Creativity will evoke your personal interpretation of how creativity plays a role in your life, unlocking your potential. At first you might feel resistant to something new but, over time inhibition and restrictions will fall away revealing a deeper sense of freedom and newfound imagination. This week’s core value is an invitation into playfulness, an invitation to break-out of physical and mental rigidity. After Stability and Integrity, this week like a child at play, Creativity encourages you to move, live, and explore life in a limitless, liberated way.
You can follow the outlined practice below or visit Inner Dimension Media and enjoy Day #7 of my program Journey to Yoga for a video of this practice. When you register for IDM TV you’ll also enjoy a free 10-day trial so you can experience the entire program for free!
Read this invocation as you begin. An invocation sets the tone for your practice and establishes intentionality.
Begin seated with your hands at your heart. Bow your chin and close your eyes. Breathe into your inherent creativity – the creative force of your body and breath. Breathe into the freedom you are lucky enough to experience in your life, the boundlessness that exists inside. Today, honor the power of innovation and wholeheartedly step into the child-like sense of liberation your imaginations bring forth. Drop preconceived notions of yoga poses, relinquish the “should’s” and the “have to’s” and invite your body to move freely without inhibition or restriction, allowing aliveness and openness to thrive. On an inhale circle your arms to the sky and to the sound of Om return the hands to the heart 3 times
Seated Rib Wheel Circles, a.k.a. Sufi Grinding
Child’s Pose: Crawl Chest & Arms to the Right – Crawl Chest & Arms to the Left – Return to Center
Moon Salute Variation: 3 Full Rounds
- Begin in Child’s Pose
- Inhale: Rise to Kneeling on Your Heels
- Exhale: Hands to Your Heart
- Inhale: Arms to the Sky
- Exhale: Lay the Belly to the Floor
- Inhale: Cobra
- Exhale: Downward Facing Dog
- Inhale: Lift the Right Leg
- Exhale: Step Through to a Low Lunge
- Inhale: Circle Arms to the Sky
- Exhale: Place the Hands on the Mat
- Inhale: Lift the Back Knee
- Exhale: Step Forward into a Forward Fold
- Inhale: Flat Back
- Exhale: Forward Fold
- Inhale: Circle Arms to the Sky
- Exhale: Forward Fold
- Inhale: Flat Back
- Exhale: Forward Fold & Step the Right Toes to the Back of the Mat
- Inhale: Low Lunge, Circling Arms to the Sky
- Exhale: Plant the Hands, Step Back to Downdog, & Lower Back to Child’s Pose
Flow Series: 3 Full Rounds
- Begin in Chair Pose: Sweep Your Arms to the Right, Sweep Your Arms to the Left, Return to Chair at Center and Vinyasa
- Inhale: Crescent
- Exhale: Shiva Mudra Side Stretch
- Inhale: Crescent
- Exhale: Chest to Thigh
- Inhale: Crescent
- Exhale: Warrior II
- Inhale: Reverse Warrior
- Exhale: Vinyasa and repeat on the Left Side
Downward Facing Dog Spinal Roll to Plank: Repeat 3 times
Low Lunge Cat/Cow
Quad stretch (hold 5 breaths)
Warrior II (hold 5 breaths)
Straighten Front Leg & Pull the Elbows to the Ribs on a Lion’s Breath: Repeat 3 times
Temple Pose w/Shiva Arms (hold 5 breaths)
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold with Hands Interlaced at Low Back (hold 5 breaths)
Forearm Plank (hold 5 breaths)
Forearm Side Plank (hold 5 breaths)
Repeat Sequence on 2nd side
Single Pigeon to Fallen Triangle (hold 8-10 breaths, both sides)
Seated Forward Fold: Hook Big Toes & Inhale to Lengthen, Exhale to fold Repeat 3 times
Roll to Back & Hug Knees to Chest
Happy Baby (hold 8-10 breaths)
Hook Big Toes & Straighten Both Legs (hold 8-10 breaths)
Hug Knees to Chest
Find a comfortable seat. Close your eyes. Place one hand over your heart and one hand over your belly. Take three slow, long, deep breaths. Release your hands to your needs and turn your palms up to face the sky, a gesture of openness and receptivity. Allow your breath to be even and unhurried. Rest here for several minutes as you center, settle, and arrive.
Internally and silently, ask yourself, “what does my creativity need to be fully expressed?” Again, “what does my creativity need to be fully expressed?” As you pose this question, rest for several minutes as you allow your intuition to respond. “What does my creativity need to be fully expressed?” You may see your answers in images, hear them as words or phrases, or simply feel the responses in your body. Continue to ask the question, “what does my creativity need to be fully expressed?”
Allow any images or phrases that may be in your mind to slowly fade. Rest again in your center.
Internally and silently repeat, “I am creative, free, and boundless…I am creative, free, and boundless…I am creative, free, and boundless.” Allow your repetition to be slow and unhurried. At the end of each cycle take a few breaths and begin again as you’re ready. Continue this affirmation for 5 minutes.
Allow the phrases to fall away. Take three long, deep breaths exhaling out of your mouth. As you’re ready, slowly open your eyes, and turn to this week’s journaling exercise.
- Create a vision board. Call on your intentions, goals, personal core values, and aspirations. What does your heart most desire? What does living your life’s purpose look and feel like? Use clippings from a magazine, draw pictures, write words, or even create a vision board online using a platform such as Pinterest. Let your inner child play! Pull out glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils…let yourself be messy and imperfect. It doesn’t need to be big or impressive. In fact a smaller sized vision board can live in your journal or somewhere you can see it daily. When you’re done, share a photo of your vision board in the comments below and share your vision with our community!
- Repeat your affirmation from the first Core Value, Intention, three times a day and continue to implement your goals from our second Core Value, Growth. If you’re new to my Values Igniting Possibility blog series,click here to read each post in the entire series.