“Creativity is your birthright”, says Julia Cameron author of The Artist’s Way and lifelong devotee to un-blocking creativity in everyone.
Yoga says creativity is even more fundamental than a birth right. You had it beforeyou were born. It is the very essence of what it is to be human. In Sanskrit the phrase is Aham Bramahsmi: I am the creative principle. We are creating ourselves and our lives every day. Whether we are making breakfast, making plans, making love, making cookies, making a sweater, making poetry or making whoopee, were are makers, every day of our lives. And for so much of it, we don’t recognise that as a creative process.
Creativity can be a word used to rope off the artistic from the rest of us. I’m using artistic in traditional terms, meaning a person who is artistic because some independent arbiter has labelled them so. “She’s artistic – she had an exhibition at the local gallery and several of the works sold” is very different from “she’s artistic, she’s got her own water colours all over the wall of the lounge room.” That lift of the eyebrow tells you our narrator does not believe the water colourist is a genuine artist. But she is – she’s alive and she’s creating her stuff and putting it out there.
We can let the purists hang onto their definitions. But let’s not let them take away our essential creativity.
The art we make does not have to be admired by the world, all it has to do is interest and intrigue us – and provide us some pleasure in the making process. Following our interests, our creative impulse to dance or sing or play an instrument or crochet a rug is part of what keeps us engaged in life and finding new things to fascinate us.
It’s easy to let life be shaped entirely by the ordinary: trips to the doctor, regular coffee with the same friends, a holiday every year, dinner at our favourite restaurant where there are no surprises and few decisions to make. Each ordinary day, however, can be made extraordinary by paying conscious attention to all its varied detail. And it doesn’t take much to shake things up a little, either. Go see a foreign language film that looks interesting. Take a class in something you know nothing about. Join a group with nobody you know. Do stuff by yourself instead of only going when a friend goes with you. Getting out of your own ordinary way is sure way to trigger a more creative state of mind.
Curiosity is the heartbeat of creativity. What happens when? What if I went the other direction? What can I make with that? Who could tell me more about this?
Yoga practice will trigger curiosity from the beginning. What does it mean to “externally rotate the femur?” How does it feel to “lift from the inner ribs” or “press both feet evenly into the ground?” The experience of getting into our bodies, down underneath the skin where it’s dark, is a creative act in itself. It takes using your mind – something that is much more than just the brain inside your skull – in a different way. It means feeling first, and labelling later. Experiencing, before categorizing and narrating the experience.
This is yoga’s gift to the creative spirit: it opens us to the many subtle layers of our internal experience, making more of ourselvesavailable to our art.