Creativity can show up in many different ways in our lives. Sometimes we think of creativity exclusively as making a piece of art, music, or writing, but creativity can also show up as a new solution to an old problem, it can be a new perspective on a job or a relationship, or it can be anywhere we use our imagination in our daily lives.
When we tap into our inherent creative power, it allows us to live in a more inspired and meaningful way as we let go of old conditioning and habitual behaviors, and instead create new beliefs and a new vision for our life.
So, what exactly is creativity?
There are dozens of definitions of creativity. One common definition is that creativity is the use of the imagination or having original or novel ideas. In Vedic philosophy, creativity is considered the powerful force that is responsible for the creation of the whole Universe, and is a power that we all have within us. It’s known as Shakti and is described as the creative force of manifestation.
This creative force is constantly flowing around, and within us, and when we tap into it, we have the ability to create and manifest whatever we want. We only need to acknowledge and activate it.
Studies suggest that there are many benefits to living a more creative life, including being more aware of our own inner thoughts, feelings, and imagination, being better able to deal with adversity, being more aware of our interconnection with others, and experiencing more purpose and joy in life.
How do we activate this creative energy?
In Vedic philosophy, creativity doesn’t come from the mind, but from the source of the mind—pure consciousness. Consciousness, also known as pure awareness, or spirit, is the ground state of who we are, and is the source of all our experience, as well as our creativity. In fact, creativity is a quality of consciousness—a quality of spirit.
So, when we connect to spirit, we open ourselves up to our creative nature. We move away from patterned ways of thinking and doing and can have new ideas and perspectives. When we have practices that connect us to our deeper Selves, we unlock all of the qualities of consciousness within us, including creativity, along with joy, peace, and bliss.
Although our nature is consciousness and we embody all of the qualities of consciousness, we may find that in our day-to-day lives, we don’t experience these qualities very often.
We feel disconnected from spirit and from our inner creativity. This can happen when we’re not balanced in the mind or the body, we’re not engaged in self-care, or when we don’t have daily practices that remind us of our true nature. To tap into our creative nature, we need to pay attention to our lifestyle and make choices that allow the body and mind to be balanced so we can experience what lies beyond.
Taking time for our mind-body well-being involves several areas of life. These important ‘pillars of well-being’ include getting natural restorative sleep, moving mindfully every day, managing stress, regulating our emotions, connecting to nature and its rhythms, and eating healthy nutritious food. We also need to engage regularly in activities that bring us joy and connect us to the beauty of nature.
When we approach life from this heart-centered perspective, focused on self-care, creativity is a natural expression.
The Doshas and Creativity
Although we’re all creative by nature, we also have individual differences in how it shows up in our lives. For some, this may come as grand works of art or major innovations, and for others it’s expressed in simple ways through daily interactions, personal hobbies, or in their work.
Ayurveda describes three mind-body types, or doshas, that explain our varying tendencies, including the ease in which we express our creativity and how it may show up.
These doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
According to the Ayurvedic descriptions of the doshas, Vatas, represented by qualities of space and air, are more open in nature, and therefore express creativity more easily and outwardly.
Pittas, represented by qualities of fire and water, tend to express creativity through intellect, therefore perhaps coming up with novel innovations in science, technology, or business.
While Kaphas, represented by water and earth, may express their creativity more closely, within their home, family, or in personal hobbies.
In fact, modern psychology acknowledges certain ‘traits’ that are seen more naturally in some people than others. Some thrive on an openness and receptivity to new ideas and experiences, while others may prefer more routine or familiarity.
It’s important to know, however, that although we may have certain tendencies, we all have the qualities of all three doshas within us, and therefore can tap into the openness and receptivity of the Vata dosha within us, no matter what our dominant type is.
Vatas naturally express creativity with ease, but with their often distractable nature, creative Vatas need healthy daily practices to keep that creativity focused.
When not in balance, Vatas may begin lots of creative projects but have difficulty finishing them, or they may feel scattered and not connected to their creative inner voice.
In order for naturally creative Vatas to stay balanced, having regular routines and practices that support all the pillars of well-being will give the stability needed to express their creativity.
Here are some tips for Vatas to stay balanced and grounded:
- Eat consistent meals throughout the day. This may involve planning ahead and doing meal prep, so you’re not skipping meals throughout the day.
- Slow down and sit down to eat.
- Eat more warm, moist foods to feel nourished.
- Movement that brings a sense of calm and grounding will provide the stability to focus your creative ideas. This can be stretching, restorative yoga or light outdoor hikes.
- Exercise in the morning or later in the afternoon to clear excess energy, rather than at night which can get you too activated before bed.
- Create a good sleep routine with an evening ritual that calms the nervous system. Try no screen at least 1 hour before bed, take a warm shower or bath with calming aromatherapy candles, or try a foot massage with warm oil before bed.
- Let go of thoughts by doing some light journaling and writing about your day and then letting it all go.
- Be in bed by 10 pm.
- Do some slow, deep breathing or body relaxation technique as you drift to sleep.
- Establish a daily meditation practice.
- Set up a sacred space for your meditations and stick to a schedule to stay consistent.
- Recognize your tendency toward anxiety, worry, and overwhelm and be intentional about how much you agree to do in a day.
- Let go of being hard on yourself for not ‘doing enough’ for others and practice self-compassion.
- Connect to nature whenever possible or bring nature indoors with plants and flowers. Connecting to nature’s beauty will connect you to your inner creativity.
Although Pittas naturally align with their creativity to achieve their goals, their extreme focus can sometimes keep them from finding creative solutions. Pittas need healthy daily practices to allow for more flexible expressions of their creativity without being too attached to a particular goal or outcome.
When not in balance, Pittas may find that they can follow through on creative ideas but along the way they may miss out on opportunities to improve upon their ideas and can actually stomp out their natural fire of creativity.
In order for naturally focused Pittas to stay balanced, having regular routines and practices that support all the pillars of well-being will give the flexibility needed to stay aligned with their creativity.
Here are some tips for Pittas to stay balanced and grounded:
- Eat fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables and minimize foods that are spicy or sour.
- Eat regular meals slowly and mindfully to fuel the natural fire.
- Avoid multi-tasking while eating.
- Choose physical activities that are steady and enjoyable. Move with mindful awareness, fully opening your senses. Don’t push yourself too hard.
- Instead of intense competition, find things that require strategy to keep it fun and challenging.
- Create space in the evening to wind down, try lavender aromatherapy to cool down from the day.
- Read something light or inspiring before bed instead of thinking about work or reading nonfiction.
- Try to write down your 'to do' list before bed so you don't take it to bed with you.
- Establish a daily meditation practice; any meditation is better than none, and no meditation is a waste of time. Use this time to clear out stress, cultivate balance, and become more present.
- Notice your tendency toward irritability or anger under stress.
- When things don’t go your way, instead of placing blame on others, or being excessively critical of yourself, tap into your natural creativity to find solutions.
- Schedule down time into each day to cool off and restore.
- Take frequent breaks and avoid overscheduling to create space for creative ideas to flow, add in activities for play amid work tasks to remain inspired.
- Connect to nature whenever possible.
Kaphas naturally use creativity to create stability for themselves and those around them. However even inspired Kaphas need healthy daily practices to activate their inner creativity and turn that creativity into action.
When Kaphas are not in balance, they may find they are stuck in a rut and favor routines that aren’t serving them or others around them. In order for Kaphas to stay inspired and balanced, having regular routines and practices that support all the pillars of well-being will keep their creative juices flowing.
Here are some tips for Kaphas to stay balanced and grounded:
- Eat lighter foods for energy.
- Start the day with warm lemon or ginger water.
- Favor spicier foods to stay energized and avoid using food for comfort.
- Explore activities that spark fun and adventure. Lean into your natural endurance.
- Change up your routine, and don’t let yourself get too busy to move.
- Try a movement practice first thing in the morning to shake off any grogginess.
- Resist the temptation to stay up late and wake up late.
- Do some gratitude journaling before bed by writing down 10 things you're grateful for.
- Establish a daily meditation practice. Mix things up occasionally with different pre-meditation rituals.
- Recognize your tendency to become withdrawn and uninspired under stress.
- Don’t be discouraged by things that drain your energy. Instead, get reinspired by reconnecting to your higher purpose.
- Adjust your routine when needed for energy and stimulation.
- Get outside in the sunshine to lighten up during the day or find a sunny window when you can.
Using these Ayurvedic tools can help you stay connected to your underlying creative nature which can bring new meaning and possibility to life and a deeper sense of well-being.
Discover all the ways creativity can show up in your life and how the doshas guide your creative spirit in Explore Creativity with Ayurveda, a four-part series with Dr. Sheila Patel, available in the Chopra App under For You.