We all know how good it feels when we are in the flow of creative pursuits. It feels euphoric and takes us to a place closest to our spiritual source. Time and space do not exist.
However, what happens when stress comes up in our life?
Many of the creative people I coach experience blocks in creativity when personal stress comes up in their lives.
For myself, I have experienced family tragedies that have come up while I was working on a project or performing in a show. At the time, these experiences made it very difficult for me to see the relevance or meaning in continuing to be a performer.
Based on these experiences, I can empathize with artists that struggle to be creative during times of great stress, grief or loss in their personal life.
Life is constantly moving forward and there will always be personal issues that come up that can alter creative projects or performances. Eventually, no matter how difficult this is, one must decide for themselves if their creativity matters enough to put the effort in and keep moving forward.
So, how do we stay connected to the spirit of creativity and navigate our lives?
To help, I came up with this exercise. I am using the acronym ACTIVATE.
- A- Awareness and Attention
Firstly, all artists need to come to the awareness that they need to do the work for themselves. I know this sounds like tough love. I also believe whether you have support or not, no one is going to care more about your project than you will. Once you accept this reality, you must train your mind to give your art the attention it deserves. Remember, being in the flow of creativity is connection to your spirit and a way to share your love with the world.
- C- Calm down and Communicate
I know it is difficult to create during stressful times so learning to channel the stress and calm down is essential. I recommend physical exercise to get the energy moving out of the body for a few minutes or longer if you have the time. Once you have moved the energy sit down, close your eyes, take some full, deep breaths and live in the present moment. Now that you are calm, communicate through your chosen art form (monologue, song, dance, writing, sculpture).
- T- Time
Schedule time daily for your creative habit and commit to it. Write it into your schedule and show up and do the work.
- I- Invigorating Improvisation
Whenever I have felt stuck on a character or blocked when writing a song lyric I improvise. Improvisation can help you loosen up and break out of old patterns. Improvisation can be highly invigorating because you can discover things that you did not think of due to over analyzing a script or struggling to come up with the right lyric. Improvisation also means a willingness to write without judgement and exploring out of the box acting choices.
- V- Visualize and Visibility
Visualizing the career you desire, the creative project you want to complete, and the necessary steps needed to get there can help clarify your goals. Once you can see and believe that you can do the things you visualize yourself doing, making your work visible is the next step. The decision to Be Visible and share your work with the world is powerful.
- A- Action
Take action steps daily to accomplish your creative project.
- T- Truth
Be true to yourself and your art and courageously get down to the raw naked truth.
- E- Everyday
Do your creative work everyday.
- It is ideal to practice in a clean, clutter-free and quiet room. It also helps to have the room dimly lit.
- Sit in a comfortable seated position with your spine held erect. If you choose to sit on the floor using a cushion or pillow will add comfort. You may also sit in a chair. The key point is comfort so that you feel good in your body.
- Breathing through the nose at a rate that is calm is essential during meditation. If nose breathing is challenging, simply breathe slowly and consciously to help relax the body.
- Choose a specific time and duration for your practice. If possible, try to meditate at the same time each day to build consistency. Start with shorter durations, 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase your time spent during each sitting.
- Live in present moment awareness. During meditation, it is common for people to experience a myriad of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Include these things in your practice without trying to suppress or engage them. Let them come and go.
- It is also common for people to drift off into sleep. If you find yourself drifting off, bring your awareness back to your body, your breath, and your sitting posture.
- Lastly, some students may find it helpful to incorporate a focusing tool. Here are a few suggestions:
- A simple technique would be to follow the rhythm of your breath, focusing on the inhalation and exhalation.
- You may try silently repeating a short, positive affirmation, prayer, or mantra.
- Focus on a specific area of your body, Chakra or Marma Point.
- You may also try listening to soft, soothing background music that aids in relaxation and can also help you focus. Listen and focus on the vibration of the music and how it resonates in your body. Feel how your breath and the vibration of the music flow and intersect throughout your body.
It is most important that you find a technique that adds grace and ease to your meditation practice. Explore different techniques and remember there is no right or wrong. Each individual will have a unique experience. Each meditation practice offers an opportunity to explore ourselves without expectations, to quietly witness the subtle dimensions of our inner self, and to be open to what is present.
Here is a link to my guided meditation CD; Illumine , for you to practice at home.
Optimal health and wellness is achieved through healthy lifestyle choices. How we think, feel, eat, and move are all important factors that affect our well-being. Taking care of our physical bodies through exercise is one of the best ways to promote health and keep the structure and function of our bodies performing at an optimal level.
I believe in a holistic, mind and body approach to fitness and wellness that focuses on safe, alignment based exercises that emphasize whole body movement and proper biomechanics. My method incorporates the five components of physical activity: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition as well as stress reduction techniques and meditation to calm the mind. Each exercise routine has a unique rhythm and flow which creates many options to keep your workout interesting and fun. Cardio dance provides a high energy rhythm that invigorates your soul. The Barre method and Resistance training offers and intense rhythm that creates long, lean, toned muscles. Pilates and Yoga offer a slow, flowing rhythm that develops a deep connection to the core of your body as well as increasing strength, flexibility, and aiding in relaxation.
HELPFUL FACTS ABOUT FITNESS
Cardiorespiratory endurance training relates to the ability to perform large muscle, repetitive, moderate to high intensity exercise for an extended period of time. Cardiorespiratory training benefits the body by enhancing the body’s ability to deliver and utilize oxygen for metabolic processes. Other benefits include: a decrease in risk of developing heart disease, decrease risk for type 2 diabetes, decrease risk of osteoporosis, increase in maximal oxygen uptake, and lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Cardiorespiratory Prescription: For healthy adults, participating in aerobic training 3-5 days per week for 20-60 minutes a session will help to receive all the health benefits.
Muscular fitness is composed of strength and endurance resistance training combined with flexibility training. As we age, we slowly lose muscle mass and flexibility which can lead to losses in strength and contribute to injury. Resistance training programs can help by maintaining muscular strength and endurance throughout life. Equally important is flexibility training to enhance normal ranges of motion. Ideally, healthy joints have a balance of muscular stability and mobility.
Resistance and flexibility training have many benefits including: improving bone health, improving blood glucose levels, and improving insulin sensitivity.
Strength and Endurance Resistance Training Prescription: For healthy adults, participate in a resistance training program 2 days per week performing 8-10 exercises for all major muscle groups executing 8-12 repetitions of each exercise.
Flexibility Prescription: For healthy adults, stretch all major muscle groups 2-3 days per week. Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds and perform 2-6 repetitions.
Body composition is defined by the amount and proportion of lean mass and fat mass. Excessive body fat contributes to multiple health problems. The most effective approach to gaining lean mass and losing fat mass, in addition to an exercise program, is consuming more whole plant foods and less processed and high fat animal based foods. In truth, current evidence concludes that exercise alone is ineffective for weight loss. Basically, it is highly difficult to out train a nutrient deficient diet that contains high amounts of fats, sodium, and cholesterol.
Lean Body Nutrition Tip: When planning your meals aim to fill at least half your plate with fresh vegetables and fruits. Choose whole grain products and lean plant based protein like beans and legumes to fill out the rest of the plate.
All of these components play an integral part in the design and effectiveness of a safe and enjoyable exercise prescription. Following these basic principles will lead you down the path to health and wellness.
- 1 ½ cup Water or Almond Milk
- 1 ½ cups Kale
- 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds or Hemp Seeds
- 1 Banana
- 2 Tablespoons Cacao Powder or Cacao Nibs
Blend all ingredients and Enjoy!