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Art and Creativity Coaching Articles

Creativity as soul food

Creativity as soul food

“Bliss in Chaos” – felted painting by Mav Kuhn

When looking at health from a holistic perspective, we think in terms of two types of nourishment: the food we put in our mouths that nourishes our body with micro- and macro-nutrients; and the things that nourish our minds, hearts and souls, such as spirituality, career, relationships and exercise. One thing that is often neglected as an important factor to living a healthy and fulfilled life is CREATIVITY.

One thing that is often neglected as an important factor to living a healthy and fulfilled life is CREATIVITY.

“Art” as a word may seem too highfalutin with expectations of academic standards, theory and techniques, and producing something of a particular quality. In order to avoid such associations, which may discourage rather than inspire, I have settled on the word “creative”. We can be creative in the way we match throws to cushions, or arrange a vase of flowers; creative can be potato printing with your kids, sketching or a full-out painting with oils on canvas in your own self-made garret. Creativity is about pulling feelings and ideas from inside and expressing them in some form outside of the self – tangibly through a tactile art form or otherwise through music and dance, for example.

The process of channelling our inner thoughts, feelings, visions and ideas to the outside is a form of emotional hygiene.

The process of channelling our inner thoughts, feelings, visions and ideas to the outside is a form of emotional hygiene. Creativity is key to exercising our imaginations, pouring out our hearts and mind, purging the inside, illuminating the shadows and expressing our emotions and ideas. This through-flow of creative energy is what keeps us emotionally healthy; our emotions find expression AND resolution through being creative. Consider creativity to be like water flushing through your body, hydrating it and carrying unwanted toxins out. Creativity does this for the mind and heart. Externalising our inner world can help us to contextualise catastrophic thinking and to gain mastery over negative or anxious thoughts. It can also be a place of relaxation where we play freely, putting aside all burdensome worries, creating a kind of substitute for formal meditation. It gives us a break from the wearisome litany of distractive thoughts that we can all be plagued with, especially in times of stress. I have often found that some stressed individuals are too wired and jittery to settle to breath-based or focus-based traditional meditation. This is when meditation-in-action must be applied: for some, moving meditation such as Tai Chi or Qi-Gong can work wonderfully, but for others, creativity is something that can make them feel productive and relaxed, busy yet calm.

Creativity is about the process, not the result…

The important thing about creativity is to silence the censors and the critics – both internal and external. Creativity is about the process, not the result – there is no wrong way to be creative. Sure, it’s great to have a creative piece at the end that is attractive to the eye, and which other people compliment us on. But if you focus too much on the outcome, then creating could become an additional stress, yet another standard to meet and box to tick.

“The joy is in the doing, not in the outcome.”

Many years ago I heard about women in India who used spices and flower petals to create intricate mandalas on the grounds in front of a Temple. They would spend the entire day hunched over these creative meditations; then the evening winds would come with dusk and blow the mandalas away. An interviewer asked the women if they weren’t disheartened or annoyed that all their effort had been for nothing as their art was destroyed every evening. They replied, “The joy is in the doing, not in the outcome.” The aim of being creative is to enjoy the moment, relish in the doing. The result is almost irrelevant because the value is in expression and in allowing yourself to flow freely from inside to outside, flushing through your mind with the cleansing power of creativity.

Criticism is as useful to creativity as a football is to a snake!

As a thinking and feeling human being, you have the ability to tap into the creative process and flow. It may feel unusual or uncomfortable at first, especially if you are not used to it or allow the inner critic its voice. Don’t. Criticism is as useful to creativity as a football is to a snake! Focus on the moment, on the action, whatever it is you are doing – create harmony, create dissonance, create something you think is beautiful, create something deliberately ugly or grotesque or ridiculous. Or do all of that in one piece. The choice is yours and the boundaries are only what you allow them to be. Your heart and mind will thank you, and you will be greatly nourished by this wonderful soul food: creativity!

©Mav Kühn 2016

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3 comments on “Creativity as soul food

  1. messyideals
    March 13, 2016

    Beautiful

    Like

  2. Pingback: Self-care: the importance and joy of the solo-hobby! | Mav Kuhn

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