Creativity & the Magic of Mindfulness

March 20, 2020

Written by: Nkechi Deanna Njaka

I believe that our relationship with the present moment is the bridge that connects us to our deepest source of intuition and creativity. 

“Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless.” ~ Julia Cameron, The Artist Way

MINDFULNESS

One of the many benefits of a mindfulness meditation practice is the spaciousness that arrives that makes way for creative flow. 

CREATIVE FLOW

According to the Huffington Post,  Flow has been described as the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task. Flow is a strong contributor to creativity. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating.

As a creative person who identifies as an artist, I have found this to be true in my creative practice as well as in my professional work as an art director. I also find that flow is incorporated in many areas of my life. Even in the creative aspects of being a meditation teacher.

In my years of study, research and practice, I have seen over and over again how creativity plays such a huge role in our day to day lives. It is such a natural part of our survival and well-being. It weaves into our work, our relationships, preparing a meal, how we build our home— the list goes on! 

“Art is born in attention.” ~Julia Cameron, The Artist Way

The practice allows us to meet ourselves, and when we connect to who we are— moment after moment, we begin to meet what is needing our attention.  Maybe what needs our attention is a new way of looking at something, a conversation we need to have with a loved one, rest, space, nourishment. The space of our practice invites us to pay attention.

You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from increased creativity or tapping into a Flow State. You don’t have to identify as a creative in order to increase your creativity or have a desire to reconnect to your creativity. You also don’t have to an art practice to tap into your inner artist or need a reason to. We were all born creative.

We each hold infinite opportunities to replenish our creativity with mindfulness and practices of presence.

Wellness and creativity are inextricably linked for me. I find creativity in my sitting practice, my movement practice and my writing practice. In the ways that I am moved towards meeting myself, I am also moved to healing.

And what happens when I feel stuck? How do we move past our creative blocks and find flow state?

Some of the greatest ways to deal with our blocks or mental paralysis, is to engage in practices like yoga, meditation, and other movement, since they all help to mitigate and alleviate stress and anxiety. Each also inspire a process called neurogenesis — which is the creation of new brain cells.

In her book The Artist Way, Julia Cameron advocates for something called an “artist date,” which is a time to be present and attuned to your creative genius or inner child. Think of it as a once-a-week, sweet, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. It doesn’t have to be “creative” or “artsy,” although it can be!

HERE ARE 10 OF MY FAVORITE:

1. Spend some time outdoors with your journal, sketchbook, craft supplies, etc.

2. Go for a walk, and take your camera with you to document the experience.

3. Go to a free museum.

4. Create a vision board.

5. Dance like no one is watching to your favorite song- bonus points if you sing

6. Plant something

7. Watch the clouds

8. Write a poem and water color an illustration

9. Spend the day naked

10. Have a technology-free day.

These have supported my art practice and have fueled and expand my creativity. 

DEEP LISTENING PRACTICE + MEDITATION:

At your meditation seat, try working with these prompts to investigate what your creativity is revealing to you and how you may be able to find your flow.

What parts of my life need attention? 

What am I present to? What do I notice?

What spaces in the body feel the most lit up and inspired?

Which spaces need more ease?

Where can I create more space for ease in this chaos?

What is one way that I may seek pleasure?

What is my favorite childhood activity?

What do I notice about my thoughts and feelings?

When I am creative, I feel more connected to myself and that which created me.

***

Nkechi Deanna Njaka is an SF mindfulness meditation instructor and the founder of NDN lifestyle studio, co-founder of Sitting Matters, and a 2017 YBCA Truth Fellow. As a neuroscientist, choreographer and meditation teacher, she has spent the majority of her life investigating the relationship between the brain and the body and has always felt the significance of their integration.Through her work as a neuroscientist as well as a professional modern dancer + choreographer, she discovered that mindfulness and creativity are crucial for sustaining individual and global well-being. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, CA where she majored in neuroscience and dance and went on to complete an MSc. in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh.

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