In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert begins with a chapter on courage. Twyla Tharp mentions fear by page fifteen in The Creative Habit and Julia Cameron tackles fear in “Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety” in her practical guide for creatives, The Artist’s Way. Fear stifles creativity and each of these authors offer tools and techniques to overcome, befriend and manage fear. Gilbert writes that “creative living is a path for the brave… and we all know that fear is a desolate boneyard where our dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun. This is common knowledge; sometimes we just don’t know what to do about it” (p.13). She guides readers to make space for fear by acknowledging its relationship to creativity – new ideas may then work their way into awareness and allow curiosity to be one’s shepherd toward new creative adventures. With her prescribed approach, she believes that “sometimes, rarely but magnificently, there comes a day when you’re open enough and relaxed enough to actually receive something. Your defenses might slacken and your anxieties might ease, and then the magic can slip through” (p.36).
Because our nervous system is governed by both the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses, we “must employ a sort of trickery in order to create optimal conditions … to manipulate your excitable self into states of sedation”(The Roll Model, p. 363). Using these states of sedation prompted through self-massage, we can allow the magic that Gilbert identifies to skirt around our fear. When we are relaxed, fear can no longer exact its hold on our creativity.
The following technique is simple. (Be sure to have a notebook and pen handy for after your rolling practice!) Using a Coregeous ball, find a place anywhere in your abdomen that feels tender or tight and drape your body face down over the ball. Hang out and breathe; feel your breath as it moves your abdomen. Notice tightness. Does it change? Does it ease?
As Gilbert recommends in Big Magic, follow your curiosity. Roll the ball to the places that intrigue you, interest you or stay still. Practice this for at least ten cycles of your breath or stay for as long as you feel change continuing to occur. When you are finished, roll off the ball, pause for internal observation. If ideas arise, jot them down in your notebook without judging them. Simply write or sketch allowing anything that surfaced to be captured on the page.
Breath. Feel. Create. Tap into what Gilbert calls “your inherent creativity, humming and stirring quietly in its deep reserve” (p.89). Try this tool to wake the reserve and bring your creativity to life!
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I’ve often used the rolling to release stress and negative emotion but have never known the connection of fear and creativity. Thank you for shedding light. Now I know what to do next time I experience writer’s block:)
I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic and how you’ve pointed out how we can also use the Coregeous ball to tap into our creativity. I’ll now enjoy using the Coregeous ball even more now. Thank you!
i might not like what I write after I roll at least now as a beginner with a ball but as its a difficult place to penetrate (to the core issues buried in the core) writing could just be a great adjunct tool to bring the buried secrets to the light of the conscious mind and heart.
Getting on the ball and just breathing is surprisingly harder than you would think!
How very interesting! I’m going to try this one, and see what I can come up with. For certain the breath benefits are magnificent. Let’s see what creativity comes forth! Thanks.
The first time I have done abdominal rolling was in yoga tune up classes offered at my gym and every time it was painful and not very enjoyable so I have not done it often on my own. The connection of abdominal rolling and emotions and especially fear is intriguing. Fear is one of the emotions keeping me from living to my full potential so I will get back on the ball and try your technique.
Kate, I love this! Rolling on the abdomen can be a very emotional experience. This is such a creative way to experience the rolling and the emotions. What a nice way to learn to physically let go of fear that may have been stored throughout the abdomen by writing it out. As an artist I’m excited about this approach and will definitely check out those books too!
Love this idea and technique. Can’t wait to roll the ball on my belly and let the creativity flow! Just thinking about and rubbing my belly reminds me of how much I beat up and criticize my “core stifling my inner wisdom.
I’m at Kripalu Institute right now attending the Level I YTU Instructor training. The book Big Magic was mentioned on the first day, and after reading this post I know I will definitely be getting it. This post resonated with me, as I have tried the Coregeous sequence referenced and had such a strong emotional reaction- most truly a GUT reaction- that I had to stop. That was months ago and I haven’t dared get near the Coregeous ball since. But facing fear is where I’m working now, personally and professionally…so when I get home, I will try it again.
This resonated with me as I have been afraid to really take a step into teaching . Fear is a hard thing to overcome, but I like Gilbert’s take on it. Definitely going to read her book.
The Abdomen holds a great amount of emotion, am definitely adding Big Magic to my must read list.
I love the books referenced and the concept of the twining fear and creativity. Buddhist philosophy sees the connection of all things – sadness and joy, despair and hope, etc. Letting the Coregeous ball sink into the abdomen is like meditation as it requires sitting with distress as the ball melts into areas that never get much of a massage. Great post!
I also like that the coregeous ball will be stirring up some activity in your 2nd and 3rd chakra centers where creativity and ego live.
So true in my experience “When we are relaxed, fear can no longer exact its hold on our creativity.” When bodily tension is released images and ideas seem to come a knocking without invitation and are my most welcome house guest. I also found that more choices are available in all aspects of life, not just the same old reactions to the past we carry in our life long backpack of the school of hard knocks.
Your article is a lovely linking of the ideas found in several texts which seek to address and unravel the stultifying effects of fear on creativity. (How all too well I know that muddy, gunky space). Working with the Corgeous ball has been helpful to me, particularly learning how to breathe when rolling into those “gut wrenching” discoveries, nudging the fearful, protective resistance, and relaxing into easiness. I was shocked to discover how dark and unexplored this area of my body has been and particularly amused because my abdomen has been right right there in front of me my whole life. The practice of rolling on the Corgeous ball (on all of the YTU balls) is itself a deliciously creative act: it encourages a spirit of playful experimentation during which some fear might magically slip away. We should send a Coregeous ball to Elizabeth and Twyla and Julia.
Don’t have a ball, but am using a rolled up towel like we did in the early days of Jill’s classes. I love the digging in, finding those tight, dark, hidden spots and allowing the release and flow of the latent creativity! Thanks for the inspiration, courage is not lack of fear but moving in spite of it.
i just bought a Coregeous ball because my iliacus is very tight, haven’t used it yet and this blog post helped be get over the fear of doing it wrong. Can’t really go wrong-huh?! also like Keiko above I too have very self defeating ideas toward myself and negative self talk. And it makes sense that fear is in the gut, liver is a storehouse for fear, we get “butterflies” in our stomach, diaphragm tightens with fear. Boy do I need to get on my new ball! thank you!
The heartbreaking and self-defeating conviction that I’m not talented or smart enough to create something worthwhile is my biggest shame. Fear does seem to be at the root of it all. Initial attempts at allowing the Corgeous Ball to melt into my abdomen have been surprisingly difficult and painful — perhaps a sign that more time and attention will help address the painful patterns of thought and conviction.