Let me start by introducing myself. I’m a woman who believes “reliability and functionality” define a good handbag, I studied science in university, my favourite iPhone app is my Reminder’s checklist, and my friends nicknamed me “The Grid” for my exceptional ability to think in straight lines. Over the years, I certainly have not placed myself on the top of the creative totem pole. In fact, I used to get low grade anxiety whenever someone invited me to a crafting event. (The echo of my subconscious reminding me, “I’m not creative–that’s reserved for that other group of people–the artsy, color-outside-the-lines people”). But recently my yoga practice revealed a new possibility to me, and a whole new perspective of what defines creativity and where I stand in this definition came into colour.
It happened gradually, like the peeling away the layers of an onion; however, recently a big chunk fell off. I was in Cobbler pose–a common pose where you join the soles of your feet and let your knees fall out to the sides. This pose has been in my practice for years, but also one I have never felt satisfied with since my left hip has slowly become less and less flexible (my suspicion is arthritis). I can’t count how many times I’d done Cobbler and pressed down on my knee as if to try to force my left hip to open like the right side–the thought was, if I spend a little more energy and focus on it, it will loosen, it will improve–but it hasn’t. Then one miraculous morning, I accepted it. I sat upright, joined the soles of my feet, and let my knees fall as they would–beautifully asymmetrical and seasoned with age. For the first time, I felt at peace with it, as if to say,” This is who I am right now and there is no need to change or fix anything.” What I realized at that moment was I was finally getting out of my own way. Letting go of the old, or fixed ideas about who I used to be or how my hip should be, and opening to the space of who I am right now.
So how does this relate to creativity you might ask… Well, it was very near after this day I saw the same awareness show up in another aspect of my life. You see, I’d always written the odd poem in my journal and this recent acceptance of “this is who I am right now” gave me a green light to write more poems. I used to think they were just something I did when I needed to vent on paper (more a process of processing, if you will) and my belief that they weren’t any good because I’m not good at writing and I’m not a creative person prevented me from truly engaging in this interest. I realized I’ve been holding this part of myself back out of fixed beliefs and old ideas of self, much like the ideas that made me believe that my left hip and right hip should perform the same. My poems, my writings (interestingly about yoga), are a genuine passion for me, and right now, this is what’s in me that’s calling to be expressed. It’s time for me to let them
exist just as they are, imperfections and all.
More to this revelation of mine. Even though my breakthrough acceptance appears like a sudden epiphany, in reality, to get to this place of resolve–to be able to say my writings and poems have value and deserve to be expressed–took inner work. It took a gradual building of trust and confidence in myself. And my yoga practice was instrumental in this process (and when I say “practice”, a word to the wise, if the yoga class you’re thinking of promotes a beach-body and rock-hard abs, this is not the type of yoga practice I’m referring to).
It required what I like to call introspective yoga to cultivate this psychological growth. What I needed was a safe, slow, and quiet space where the volume of my inner knowing could be turned up. What was revealed to me was a confidence in my inner voice and the value of expressing it. Essentially, I was building trust in following my heart’s desire, and, for the purpose of this blog post, giving me the foundation from which I’d take the next step of sharing my poems. (For those of you who are interested you can read one here).
So here’s the truth I’ve come to realize–creativity evolves out of the recognition of what you do in your life that brings you joy. You need to identify the topics and activities that naturally get you curious and excited (you know, the ones you’d spend all your free time doing just for the fun of it) because this is the place from which creation is born. And no matter the end product, it’s truly special because it’s a product of genuine passion combined with the uniqueness of you. If you’re anything like me, sometimes these inner yearnings get dampened by the “shoulds and should-nots” we carry in our heads, and what’s needed is a platform like yoga to open the space for the wise body and inner voice to be present. Perhaps it’s time to get out of your own way and ask yourself, “What’s in me that’s not being expressed?”
This post was originally published on the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy website’s guest blogs here.