“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet” — Thich Nhat Hanh
For many years, my creative spirit was still, like a frozen block lodged inside my body.
I could feel creativity’s presence lingering like a fond memory, calling back to my childhood and young adult years when I sketched, wrote poetry, and danced around the living room with complete abandon.
Still, a job I disliked intensely had pulled me into a multi-year fog where my creativity lay hidden underneath an unfocused, scattered mind.
I sat at work. I commuted and often cried along the way. I sat at home and watched TV. My life stretched out like a bleak ribbon of road, to the point where I found myself thinking, Only 45 more years until I can retire!
I remember feeling shocked that I’d just wished away my entire life, ready for older age and freedom from work. I remember thinking, Surely there’s more for me than this.
SEE ALSO: How Meditation Extends Your Lifespan
A New Direction
A new resolve bloomed in that moment, the feelings of unrest and unease unfolding inside me until they were impossible to ignore. When you reach this point, and the chatter in your mind begs you to change course—when your physical body feels heavily weighted as if to the ground—simply take notice.
I found the most important step was not to push for answers.
Changing course was a slow process. I would write rambling journal entries and walk in the woods. Changing course looked like sketching winter trees in my notebook and browsing beautifully illustrated books. I would face myself in the mirror to pray.
None of these individual activities felt like they were leading me anywhere at the time, but now, I see how each pulled me outside of my overwhelmed mind and into the present for a moment of quiet.
And after months of exploring and tentatively dipping back into activities that made me happy, I had a moment of pure clarity. I no longer wanted to live a life devoid of my creative spirit. I wanted to be an artist.
I remember picking up a paintbrush for the first time in over 12 years. I remember mixing paint and running an experimental stroke across the canvas.
What I experienced in that first moment can only be described as peace, and it was such a beautiful lesson.
By surrendering to a process of discovery that freed me from any expectation or judgment, a process that only asked me to stay focused and open in the present moment, I was led in a direction that my conscious mind simply couldn’t see.
Creativity and Mindfulness
There are so many ways to be creative, and each is so freeing.
To you, creativity might look like cooking or dancing or drawing. You might enjoy having thoughtful conversations or spending time out in nature, painting, playing games, or exercising.
There is no wrong way to be creative, just as there is no wrong way to bring yourself into a state of beautiful awareness.
I love the idea of sitting quietly in meditation for finding space and peace inside the present moment, and yet, for me, my avenue to stillness is painting. I love that when I sit down in my studio, time slows down.
My breathing slows, too, and the muscles in my jaw relax. I am less hard on myself, more compassionate, and more deliberate in my movements.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to bring more peace, awareness, and clarity into your life, try expanding your definition of what will work. Your mind might just surprise you.
Latest posts by Elizabeth McDonnell (see all)
- How To Discover Your Creativity On The Path To Mindful Living - November 30, 2015