My friend Pauline was trying Zentangles—doodling exercises that promise to pull your concentration into drawing in a way that frees the rest of your mind to come up with creative ideas. Since I’d been stuck in a creative block for months, I decided to follow her lead.
As I waited for my workbook to show up, I thought about how creative longtime practitioners of Buddhism tend to be.
I wouldn't exactly call depression a gift, but I’ve come to accept the restless emptiness and nagging sadness as signals from my soul instead of merely the symptoms of an illness to be excised.
Before Eat, Pray, Love was a movie and a travel tour, it was a memoir by the award-winning writer Elizabeth Gilbert, whose story of losing and finding herself resonates with just about every woman who looks in the mirror. With Eat, Pray, Love and its follow-up, Committed, Gilbert’s connection to readers has been immediate and enduring. What woman hasn’t sobbed in secret on the bathroom floor, after all?
Four years ago, Elizabeth Duvivier had a high-powered job in product development. She had watched her company grow from a small, single-owner entity to a corporate behemoth and wasn’t sure she had grown in the same way. She felt that the creativity and intuition she used to possess was slowly draining away. Drawing inspiration from local art festivals, she then had a vision for a creativity retreat at some rustic cabins on the beautiful shores of Squam Lake in New Hampshire.
I've been practicing yoga on and off since I was 12 years old, but when I really, deeply started to get into it, it was during my Master's degree in English Literature. See, I can be a bit of a workaholic, and yoga gave me a loophole for taking a break from my work to practice. It was this: Yoga made me smarter, more focused, and more efficient. Not only was the work done faster, it was better. It was more creative, more expansive, and more fun to do. I found creative ways to write the most technical essays, and I understood the poetry on levels that I hadn't before thought possible. Yoga time folded so neatly into work time that I never had to feel guilty for taking time off writing to practice!
Unfortunately for my academic career, I found the yoga so fascinating that it swept me up, and now instead of teaching student conferences on literary theory, I get groups of people together to move and flow and listen to poetry and write and sometimes even cry. In a nice way, though.
Actually, in a pretty magical way. This past weekend, I taught another Creative Flow workshop (at Highgate YYOGA) where we explore the intersections between yoga and creativity through writing.
We go on a journey that starts with a good soak in poetry. These two poems, for example, set the tone for our practice:
24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians and Actors from America's Foremost Creativity Coach
By Eric Maisel
You may be mistaking “imagination” for “imaginary.” Imaginary points to something that doesn’t exist; imagination points to our capacity to envision what might be brought into existence.
Don't give up on corporate America. Breakthrough research in creativity points away from the superstar CEO and toward a selfless, spiritual enterprise we might call Innovators R Us.
Over the years I have discovered a simple and powerful pattern followed by people who (1) enjoy life the most, (2) regularly express vitality and creativity, and (3) constantly create good news for and with others.