“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” – Brené Brown
People often approach creativity as a flow. That if we just put our mind to it, the energy will “just flow.” But often it is exactly that – the mind – that blocks us from tapping into our imagination. The mind takes over, we begin to stress, over-analyze, and self-doubt creeps in. We are taught that creativity should come naturally, but creativity takes courage. Courage to step out of your “box,” to be vulnerable, and to take risks. And as Ken Robinson said, “if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Here are 5 strategies that I have found help expand my imagination and move past the fear of failure:
Write every day
Begin writing in a journal every day. A few minutes in the morning can be a tool for self-discovery. We’re too tired for distractions or to filter our thoughts. Use this time of stream of consciousness writing to identify goals and fears, dreams, and new ideas. It also means that you’re not diving right into technology. Elena Brower, author of Practice You: A Journal, says that “writing with your hand means you’re spending a few minutes connecting with your own heart, and away from your technology, which is beneficial for your mood and your overall well-being.” (Read our full interview with Elena here.)
One of the best things that has reignited my creativity is the The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. The author guides you through a 12 week program, which includes “morning pages,” where you must write 3 pages every morning. You can write the same sentence for 3 pages, but you must write. Doing this every day, along with the other exercises, has helped me face a lot of creative fears and blocks.
Visualize during meditation. When we close our eyes and omit our external surroundings, we can tap into the subconscious mind. Choose a mantra, quote, or image to focus on. For example, try the following exercise: As you inhale repeat the mantra, I am creative. As you exhale, repeat I release all expectations. Try this 5-Minute Guided Meditation for Visualization from Amanda Kriebel.
Make a vision board. In her essay on the Law of Attraction, as Ashley Wood explains, is “the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.” One way she is visualizing positive outcomes and allowing her creativity to flow is through a vision board. “When making your vision board, choose photos and images that align with the feeling you have and the feeling you attach to the goals you’re working to achieve.”
Visualize in the shower. Some of the best ideas come through in the shower because we’re so relaxed. Close your eyes. Feel the warm water and listen to the white noise it makes. Allow your mind to travel and explore.
Rethink your space
Dana Claudat, of Tao of Dana, has a simple exercise for removing creative blocks: Grab some bowls of sea salt and put them in spaces where you don’t want to be. Whether it’s by your desk, in dark corners or in the more cluttered areas of your home. Picture the salt absorbing all the stagnation and dullness, purifying the air. Add some inspiration to the area. Be simple and stick some flowers in your favorite color there, or try inspiring art or posters. Dump your salt after a few days into the trash and carry it out to the trash bin. The bad or stifled energy should now be gone and you are free to use this space for your writing exercises, creating a mood board, meditating, etc. (Also check out the rice experiment, which is a game changer!)
Visit an inspiring place
Go to a museum, an art gallery, or visit the ocean. I’ve always found spending time in nature, especially near water helps to settle my nerves and expand the mind. Breathing in the fresh air, listening to the waves or sounds of the forest, opens my mind up to wandering. If you can’t get way, try gardening or spending an afternoon in your local park. Take your shoes off and touch the ground. Close your eyes, listen to the sounds, and let your mind drift off. Take a journal with you so you can record whatever comes to mind. You can also listen to music made by plants. Yes, really! Listen here.
If you’ve been reading our website for any amount of time you know the importance of self-care is for your longevity and happiness in this lifetime. I find soaking in a hot bath will release the stress of the day and if anything, will allow me a good night’s sleep. I recently discovered Moon Nectar Apothecary’s creativity bath salt, which I add to my baths when I need to clear my mind or cultivate my imagination. It contains herbs to promote imagination, creative visions, dreamwork, and awakening. I often add citrine gem essence to a bath or to my sacral chakra, which is located below the navel in the lower abdomen. It is the center of reproduction, creativity, intuition, and emotion.
Whether you follow one of these strategies or not, I challenge you to try something new. Go outside of your daily routine in some way. Think about how you feel after these experiences and write about how you felt before and after.
• Take a dance class
• Experiment with a set of paints (the dollar store has water colors and paper – no need to invest a lot of money)
• Read a book in a new genre
• Find a new hiking spot
• Go to a networking event alone
• Try a completely new-to-you type of food
• Take your camera with you for the day. See what the world looks like through the lens.
• Buy yourself flowers and create a bouquet (visit your local flower mart or Trader Joe’s for inexpensive blooms)
We are raised to be goal oriented and to judge ourselves by the final product. This view dismisses the long path it may take to get there and the changes we make along the way. When we allow ourselves to be unafraid to test new ideas, we open ourselves up to anything our minds can imagine.
I would love to hear your experiences with creativity and how you expand your mind. Share your stories in the comments below.