A creative impulse exists in all of us as a part of being human. Yet many of us feel that whatever creativity we may have had as children (and we were creative, yes!) was tucked away long ago beneath responsibilities, blocks, and insecurities. It's as though the artist within us has been sleeping for many years and then, as we begin to live more mindfully and grow in awareness, this inner artist begins to stir. But how to wake from such a deep slumber?
Have you ever had trouble waking up in the morning? A quick internet search will pop up many lists of helpful tips for the groggy so clearly this is an experience shared by many. The first list I encountered when I googled "tips for waking up" (from Jeff Goins' blog, Goins. Writer) is pasted below:
Here's eight tips to help you win the fight and wake up early:
- Take the first steps. The toughest part of the morning is simply getting out of bed.
- Cultivate a mental environment.
- Develop a "get to" attitude.
- Create some accountability.
- Sleep well.
- Never snooze.
- Stick to your wake time.
- Build momentum.
1. Take the first steps. The toughest part of returning to a creative life is simply deciding to do so and acting on our decision. It's not about rushing out to the art supply store and going in debt to load up with the best paints on the market. It's as simple as taking a moment in our otherwise hectic day, everyday. Stop. Observe. And really let ourselves see some small thing we've not fully noticed before.
2. Cultivate a mental environment. Listen to podcasts related to creativity or read about artists and other creative people who inspire us. If we "fill the cracks in your day with inspiration" about creativity, then the mental environment we create will be much more welcoming for our inner artist. We'll begin to believe we are indeed creative.
3. Develop a "get to" attitude. As opposed to a "have to" attitude—which can makes us dull or crabby—a "get to" attitude aligns us with gratitude and abundance. What tasks can we relish and approach with joy? What opportunities for problem-solving await? What can we arrange with aesthetic care in our home? What is it to simply breathe in and breathe out. Creativity comes to life in these moments.
4. Create some accountability. Take a class or join a group, either specifically art-related or anything we're hoping to expand within ourselves. This is creative work and it helps to have others witness our progress, cheer for our successes, and empathize with our struggles.
5. Sleep well. Which also means eating well and getting enough exercise. Attending to our physical well-being isn't separate from our creative life. We don't have a body, we live our lives through our bodies. Our creative ideas are expressed through our bodies and we nourish our inner artist through physical self-care. Take a walk. Take a nap. Create and share a meal. Ride a bike. Get a massage. Feeling rested and invigorated means we can apply more creative solutions to difficult situations and respond with more equanimity and compassion. This is living creatively!
6. Never Snooze. Don't put it off. It's time to give attention to our creativity, so just do it! Don't wait until you're perfect or the conditions are perfect. Don't pass up that Karaoke invitation because you haven't practiced a song. Don't skip the dance party because you've gained a few pounds. Our inner artist wants to play now, not later. The world needs our new ideas and bold approaches now, not later.
7. Stick to your wake time. Develop the routines that will nurture creativity and make them routine. Awakening our inner artist is a practice. Keep a journal. Commit to a regular meditation group. Determine to watch the natural world instead of an electronic screen during your work breaks. Listening to what our body, mind, and spirit needs to feel alive and engaged is the artist's work.
8. Build momentum. Don't get too comfortable in the early stages of waking up. This takes courage! Get something on the calendar, even if it's out of your comfort zone. A little adrenaline can fuel the focus and attention we need to see and feel the world more clearly, more critically, more subtly, more miraculously, more through the eyes and heart of our awakened inner artist.
At The Center for Mindful Living, we believe that living mindfully with growing awareness and compassion challenges the hectic, commercialized, disconnected status quo of our culture. And challenging the status quo, as Seth Godin points out, is what artists do. So if your inner artist is having trouble waking up, I hope you'll try these tips. Experience the "bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness" that you truly are and the world sorely needs.