In this episode, I talk about the ideas of mindfulness, mindful movement, and mindful creativity. I share 3 ways to produce a mindful creative experience. Learn how this type of experience reduces stress and anxiety and increases your overall happiness. Use this guide to begin your own mindful creativity today!
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[00:00:00] Welcome. I'm Kristi Backman and this is my podcast Cultivating Creativity. It's about helping you build your creative life. Giving creatives a way to make space for artistic growth, through the insights of an artist, art instructor, and a creativity coach about the creative process and living that crazy creative life!
[00:00:29] In this episode, I talk about the ideas of mindfulness, mindful movement, and mindful creativity. I share three ways to produce a mindful creative experience. How this type of experience reduces stress and anxiety and increases your overall happiness. Use this guide to begin your own mindful creativity practice today.
[00:00:55] So, in order to understand how to incorporate mindful creativity into your life, let's start by breaking down these ideas. First, let's consider mindfulness. The dictionary defines mindfulness as being conscious or aware of something, focusing one's awareness on the present moment.
[00:01:15] Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation. Meditation is a practice that aims to increase awareness of the mind and concentration. The American Psychological Association, the APA defines mindfulness as the awareness of your internal states and surroundings. That gives us a better idea of mindfulness.
[00:01:35] So, how does this work? Honestly, it's very simple. The reality is if we don't actively try to control our thoughts, they default to replaying past negative experiences. Or worrying about the future. Which becomes a never-ending negative spiral, which elevates our stress and our anxiety levels.
[00:01:58] To escape this trap, we need to employ mindfulness. Really mindfulness is an awareness practice. It's the ability to stay grounded in the present. The now. Our whole lives are a series of moments. And the only moment that we truly have any control over is the one that's happening right now. So, do you want to waste your life thinking about things that you can't change?
[00:02:27] Of course not! Mindfulness in the moment allows us to truly experience that moment. To really enjoy it and to live it. By tuning into our surroundings, our senses are heightened, and our emotions are open to that experience. This simple act of being present, opens us up to the enjoyment of the moment, which translates to happiness.
[00:02:53] Typically, mindfulness is linked with meditation and stillness, but you can also achieve mindfulness through movement. There are two basic approaches to mindfulness. The type where you're clearing your mind entirely. Or where you're creating a focus. Consider guided meditation, there is a focus or intention. However, in more traditional meditation, the focus is to clear your mind of all thoughts. Both approaches, remove extraneous thoughts and remove all negative thinking. And you can actually achieve both types of mindfulness with creativity.
[00:03:32] I'm going to talk about three techniques that we can apply to creativity specifically.
[00:03:38] The first one is a mind clearing mindfulness practice. it's when you achieve a Zen state or what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, noted psychologist termed this state, the Flow State. The characteristics of this type of state include.
[00:03:58] One, there are goals every step of the way. So, you have an intention when you approach the work.
[00:04:04] Two, there's immediate feedback to one's actions, meaning you're seeing immediate results.
[00:04:10] Three, there's balance between challenge and skill. So, you're actually focusing on what you're doing and seeing and producing something. That takes some intention and focus.
[00:04:24] Four, action and awareness are merged. You're completely focused and aware of what you are doing in the moment. Focusing on whatever the activity is that you are doing.
[00:04:38] Five, there's no worry of failure. You're not projecting, “oh my gosh, what if this doesn't work?” You are completely in the moment of action.
[00:04:49] Six, self-consciousness disappears. Again, like the last one, you're not worried about failure. You're not worried about; can I do this? Can I not do this? Is this going to turn out well? You're not worried about your ability. You just have a complete confidence that you know what you are doing in this very moment.
[00:05:09] Seven, sense of time is distorted. And in my mind, this is the way you can really tell when you have achieved this Zen state. When you get done, you're like, “oh my gosh, that went really fast” or, a lot more time passed than you thought. Because you get so immersed in the moment that physical time tends to pass more quickly than you perceive.
[00:05:34] Eight, activity is an end unto itself. You're not worried about making this for a show or an event or a gift or whatever you're end all intention may be. You're focused on the making, the moment of creation. That's what the focus is.
[00:05:54] And so the amazing thing about this state is, it feels both like total focus and a clear mind at the same time. And this experience is truly an amazing feeling and I'm confident that if you haven't experienced this yet. As you continue to work and focus and try to set up this type of environment, that you will experience this. But this isn't, like all forms of mindfulness, something that you can force. It's something that you need to guide into. But you'll know it when you feel it.
[00:06:30] Now, for those with busy minds. This can be challenging to kind of let go of thoughts. And oftentimes when you're starting say a meditation practice, trying to clear your mind is like trying to herd cats, it just is very, very challenging. And so oftentimes, it's recommended to start with a guided meditation. Which will lead you into that state, but it allows your mind something to focus on.
[00:06:57] And for many of this may be a preferred approach. My next two techniques use this type of focus mindset. The second overall technique focuses on the elements of the specific activity being present in the moment. You want to focus on the mechanics of your body. Think about, I am holding this paintbrush. I am dipping it into the paint. You are thinking about your step-by-step actions and activity in the moment.
[00:07:28] Your senses are going to become a lot more acute. You might be focusing on say the color of the brush strokes. Or the feel of the clay. The smell of the materials. The sounds of the quiet movements you're making and your breath. And perhaps the flavor of your favorite beverage as you work.
[00:07:49] Honestly, this gives you something to intentionally focus on if you have a busy mind. However, this may take you to the same exact state we just talked about previously. But it's a great way to start creating focus, really thinking about what you are doing, in a very deliberate way.
[00:08:11] The third technique, is a type of focus, mindfulness. Where you create a piece of art about a specific intention for your life. Focusing on a specific idea and creating a piece based on that idea is really a wonderful way to manifest that concept into reality. Because you've already made this idea a real thing, your art.
[00:08:38] And the focus and positive attention that you put into making the art will help you approach this issue in a whole new way in your life. The art you created becomes a representation of the idea and it's a real thing, it's tangible at this point.
[00:08:56] It helps you understand how it's more of a journey and a process, and it's less than a pass or fail. So many is times in life as we try to make sustainable change and our life, we grade ourselves on a pass or fail. Like, oh, I messed up in this moment and then we just feel like we failed. But the reality is cumulative. You need to think about the process. Trying to make this change, where have you made positive steps? Where have you worked towards that goal? And yes, we are going to take some wrong steps. We're going to fall down. We're going to move backwards, however that looks for your particular intention.
[00:09:35] That is human nature. We're rarely perfect. And if you expect perfection, you're just going to be disappointed. So, I feel like creating the artwork because it's a process that involves mistakes. It involves experimentation. It mimics the actual journey in a lot of ways. It works as a metaphor and helps us remember that. Even if something doesn't work out, we have to push through it. We have to keep going, and that will achieve what we're wanting to achieve.
[00:10:08] In my previous podcast, I talked about What Creativity Looks Like. And I discussed a lot of different ways that it manifests. If you miss that, definitely check that one out. My point in mentioning that is I typically approach creativity from a visual arts perspective. That's just my background. That's my passion. But you can take this mindful movement approach and apply it to any creative activity.
[00:10:33] According to a recent study, practicing mindfulness while engaged In movement-based behaviors like walking or creating can decrease stress, anxiety and depression and was associated with lessened negative states. And this makes sense. You're tuning into your present experience and you're doing something enjoyable. And honestly, it's as complex and as simple as that!
[00:10:59] I hope you found this helpful that it brought some new insight to how you consider mindfulness and guides your own mindful creativity practice. For more information I have several Live Workshops that focus on Mindful Creativity. Check out my website for more information.
[00:11:16] If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to my podcast. You can also follow me on social. Until next time!