"I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?" - Zhuangzi
We are innately creative beings, but living in a state of flow when it comes to inspiration and creative output is difficult for many of us. Life has its ups and downs, and everyday stressors and to-do’s can block us from accessing our creative potential. Practices like pranayama, meditation, and yoga can be incredibly helpful in shifting energy and clearing our minds to help us tap back into our creative nature.
Blank computer screen in front of me, a canvas waiting for the whoosh of ideas in my brain to come together and flow into my fingers, forming words that I tap-tap-tap on the keyboard. Something from nothing. Project complete.
As human beings, creativity is one of the most powerful energies we can tap into. After all, it is a natural part of who we are — which is why those who carve out time for creation often compare the process to meditation. “As we tune into our creativity, we are transpired to that transcendent space, the present moment, and that is where the magic happens,” says Sarah Bick, an artist and therapist who helps people through creative blockages. “Dwelling in the present moment is meditation, and a creative practice can feed the soul in the same way,” she adds.
As we begin to enjoy warmer, longer days in the northern hemisphere, we are also entering the season of fresh produce in abundance. One of my favorites since childhood is cucumber. As I sat down to plan a luncheon for my family, I was inspired to include cucumber in a soup. Typically, we have always included cucumber for salads, which is delicious, but I wanted to try a new approach and combination of flavors. This recipe turned out delightful and makes for a lovely light meal this summer.
On the surface, the world may appear to have many challenges and it’s easy to get distracted or even overwhelmed by them. However, whenever we allow ourselves to play, we slip beyond everyday limitations and into a realm of infinite possibilities, joy and love. Play should be an essential part of everyone’s life, because the real reason that we’re here is to play. Let’s go back in time. Actually, let’s go back to before time, before space, before everything.
Some people appear to be plugged into an endless supply of creative power while others struggle to light a small spark of imagination. If you fall into the latter category, you may have been told that creativity is a fixed trait and that you were allotted a specific, unchangeable amount at birth. Fortunately, those outdated notions have been disproven and current research reveals that imaginative ability is akin to a muscle that can be strengthened with proper use.
From the ancient Yoga Sutras by Patañjali, the sutra sthira sukham asanam can be translated into English as “may the posture be steady and full of ease (or joy).” For anyone new to yoga, it might seem obvious to aim for steadiness and strength. Therefore, it is the prominence of sukham — signifying the eternal sense of joy, bliss, or ease within us — that may come as a surprise.
When we’re growing up, we are full of wonderment because every experience we have is something brand new to us. We are always in the space of discovering something for the very first time. As we grow up in the world and settle into adulthood, we tend to fall into various routines and structures that limit our ability to freely explore. The wonder we once had as children begins to dissolve, and we trade in our creative, unrestricted play for regimented structure.
Being allowed to play makes children happy, but growing up changes this and not for the better. Children play, but adults work. That’s the prevailing view, as it has been for centuries, so let’s see where the playfulness of life went and why it needs to come back. The ideal, in fact, is to infuse your whole life with play, including your spiritual life.