After reading and loving Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic, I’m convinced there is a deep connection between freedom in our physical center and our freedom to create. Now, you might already be hovering your hand over your mouse to click onto the next article, thinking, “I’m not much for creativity – I don’t paint, sculpt or sing”. Hang on! As Gilbert illustrates in her book, along with other well-known champions of creativity, we are ALL creative. We ALL have a singular voice that, if left silenced, will be lost from the world never to be replaced. Gilbert refers to this uniqueness as “hidden treasure” that is buried within each of us and I believe that Yoga Tune Up® provides a particularly useful tool of abdominal self-massage to help excavate our own individual gems of creativity.
One of the most common and powerful blocks to creativity and innovation in all fields, from science and education to the arts, is fear. We get so tangled up in the fears of how our work may be perceived that we lose the connection to the source of the creation. Fear, unchecked, silences our creative voice. Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit says, “No one starts a creative endeavor without a certain amount of fear; the key is to learn how to keep free-floating fears from paralyzing you before you’ve begun” (p.22). The ones who learn to work in company with the fear are those who produce new ideas, artwork and concepts to release into the world. It takes courage and courage comes from your core.
Every human knows what fear feels like. We’re born with healthy fear that keeps us alive in dangerous situations, useful for sure in our complicated world. It is the paralyzing form of fear that can stifle us, that can “turn off the spigots of creativity altogether” (Tharp, p. 22). Common expressions about fear describe being crippled, frozen or paralyzed. In each of these examples, there is no movement, no action, no flow and no freedom of ideas. When the sympathetic response is in high gear, adrenaline rushes through our system, blood sprints to the extremities, fear clamps down on our center and shortens our breath. This happens in response to both real and imagined fears and robs our creative minds of expression. I believe this armoring over our center stifles sensation as well as the intuitive knowing that springs from our soft middle, our core. When our guts are held under the heavy armoring of fear, we cannot create, connect or tap into our basic curiosity that fuels new learning.
Therapeutic touch induces a deep state of relaxation and kindles a state of receiving into one’s awareness. Self-massage “elevates your well-being chemistry, boosting endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine” (The Roll Model, p. 370). As Yoga Tune Up® teachers and students, we know that abdominal self-massage with a Coregeous ball opens up a highway of sensation (both pleasant and not so pleasant) and a deep connection to our core. Utilizing abdominal breath and observing sensation with curiosity can reveal a shortcut around the forest of fear Gilbert refers to, especially in the moments after sustaining compression and gently rolling the abdomen.
When rolling off of the Coregeous ball, there is new space for breath, more ease in muscles from pelvic floor to the scalenes, and freedom from tension. In this gap between anxieties, ideas bubble up, connections between topics emerge and that sense of intuition is ignited.
This is a SOMETHING one can do to combat artistic fear, wake internal curiosity, and nurture the courage it takes to walk the path of a creative thinker, whether you are performing an opera, writing a poem or inventing innovative ways to sequence a movement class to best serve your students. Come back later this week for suggestions of how to utilize abdominal rolling as a fire starter for creativity!