"You do the postures and then you learn to breathe."
This quote came from one of my favorite yogis and has stuck with me ever since. The postures are the vehicle, the means. They are not the end. They are not the reward. What you learn along the way is the best part. What has become clear to me in recent months is that yoga, breath, and meditation have offered not only physical and emotional support but have also been a catalyst for greater creativity. Sometimes it feels like I have magic.
But, it's not a secret and I want to share it with you. Here are three ways my practice has bolstered my creative endeavors:
1. Yoga emphasizes the process over the outcome.
Knowing there is no "winning" in my practice and that competition is a myth strips away the notion of good, better, best. I'm instead rooted in the awareness that each practice is simply a slice a life. When I dive deep into the process of practice I don't have to search for the details. Instead, the nuance of breath, body and mind are all ever-present. I am keenly in tune with the subtle adjustments necessary to stay in the pose. I am not rushing to a finish line. I am focused on how I get there and aware of what happens along the way. Best of all, even with the most earnest attempt, sometimes I fly and sometimes I flop. But, either way, I have created something new and tomorrow's experience will be just as surprising.
The emphasis on practice over perfect - process over outcome - helps me approach my creative endeavors with an appreciation for longevity. I'm at peace with the notion that my abilities may ebb-and-flow with time and I know that I will need to make adjustments. But in the real world, I also have to deliver real results consistently over time. I've become more confident in what I produce on a daily basis because of my dedicated practice. I've learned to temper my expectation that every effort needs to be the end-all-be-all of creative perfection. Every day doesn't have to be my Everest. What's important is that I show up and do the work.
2. Mindfulness provides clarity in the midst of distraction.
With constant noise filling up the world it's hard to know if a thought is actually mine or if it's been implanted by the distraction that surrounds me. Some days I swear 'Inception' may have been based on a true story! Mindfulness is my own personal 'kick' back to me. By tuning into exercises to stay present and embracing the challenge of meditation I now have tools to quiet the frazzled nature of mind despite the world around me.
Once I enter a mindset of stillness and presence I can slow down enough to make sense of circling thoughts and zero in on what's truly my best work. I can't say that my ideas are always better, more ambitious, or touched with superior intellect. But, that's not really the point. There is less junk clogging up the pipeline and I can tap into what true for me and the best use of my energy.
3. Breath & movement help me cope with the fear of rejection
I came to yoga with crippling anxiety and tormenting self-doubt. Many days I still struggle with ghosts of those old foes. But for the most part, I attribute my ability to get out of bed and function on a daily basis to my yoga practice. As a creative person, the fear of rejection, of being misunderstood, or worst-of-all feeling incapable of making an impact often stalled my projects, or I would abandon them all together. But then I discovered 'flow'.
My yoga practice teaches me how to breathe. And, when I flow linking breath with movement, I've discovered that remarkable things happen. Being partnered with my breath now feels like a super power. When anxiety wells up, I use flow to redirect nervous energy towards something positive and useful.
Breath and movement are also signals that I am alive and capable. As long as I'm breathing I'm going to be o.k. I might as well put myself, and my work, out there to share with the world. If I'm rejected, who cares? I still have two lungs that breathe and a body that moves.
Try this on for yourself. Let practice, breath and meditation support your well-being as you create. I hope you jump all-in to your passions and talents. Know that your practice is there to help you along the way. Encourage others to jump all-in too, and cheer them on. Yoga is about union. Union with oneself and union with others. Go easy on yourself; believe in your talent. And, don't forget to extend the same grace to others. This world needs us all to use our creative super powers for good. #PracticeEverywhere