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!
Interesting link between the core and creativity. So many people claim they’re not creative, and introducing abdominal rolling can also be met with a similar resistance of not even wanting to try. I never really thought of it as fear-based resistance, but your article has got me re-visiting some situations in my head that are starting to make a lot more sense!
Thanks for talking about fear. Even when you know, that you know something and you have to do it fear gets in your way. Like this week , in class we had to do presentations , l guess doing something for the first time so many questions come up and you don’t know if what you are doing is right. I did not use the courageous ball but remembered my breathe and l went through the presentation . So next time l will use my courageous ball.
Interesting. Fear may be the one reason, while it might be the lack of the experience of changing perspectives… I will explore the idea. Thank you.
Curious approach to untap our creative self. Thanks.
I LOVE the YTU therapy balls because I can explain to people that this is a way they can be control of their own relaxation. They can be in private or doing their own thing, they can move as much or as little as they want. Learn THEMSELVES. So crucial.
Very nice article, sometimes we think that all in our lives is appart, but then we realize that everything is connected. Start to massage our core with the coregeous could be the start to get deep in to us and release all kind of emotions that we keep in that area and block our creativity.
I love your article
Thank you so much for sharing this! It wasn’t until last year where I experienced my first real emotional release with the courageous ball. The connection between our emotions and our bodies is stronger than we think and I too believe that fears inhibits creativity. I believe thats why the courageous ball is also key, it allows and encourages you to stay curious about what is going on in your body and more particularly in you’re belly. Letting go of the tension, pain and tightness both physically and emotionally in the belly will maybe open up the opportunity to go more with your gut 🙂
I have never thought of myself as “creative” since it is not a natural flow for me. Too logical and linear but it is in there somewhere. I loved your article about how to tap into it and am looking foward to putting it into action. I need to tap into that part of my brain and now have a trailmap as to how to start.
Ca donne vraiment envie d’utiliser le ballon et de lire Big magic!
Thank you for this compelling article. I am glad there is a SOMETHING I already have the tools for, my body and the coregeous ball! Excited to go find and dig up some, “Hidden treasure.”
I keep getting drawn to info re: use of Coregeous ball. Your input as it relates to creativity and fear encourage further exploration of this tool. Twyla Tharps comment also is an excellent reminder step off the ledge and not let fear freeze your dreams. Thank you!
Thanks. I need to hear this.
I do believe creativity is blocked by fear. And fear certainly manifests in my body in the gut — tightness, pain, digestive issues. Investigating this fear with a friendly curiosity and gentle incursions with the corgeous ball excercises gradually builds back the strength and confidence. Pacing is really important though and can’t be rushed.
I am fascinated with anything that goes into the connection between our emotions and our bodies, they are so deeply connected. Its adds a different perspective for the more anatomical mind to keep classes informative and opening the mind body connection on a deeper level.
Ah yes. Fear I know it well, unfortunately. I doubt myself often, and am aware of the “gut” reactions knotting and cramping my belly. I create classes weekly and start with insecurity, now I’ll give it a try & pull out my Coregeous ball and book to unlock this contracted place within. Tomorrow morning my ball and I will do this experiment as a preliminary session to prepare my creative expansion. My students will thank you.
Thanks for the article Kate. Feeling connected and centered in our bodies we’re more likely to develop the confidence needed to pursue creative endeavors. Practicing Yoga promotes that connection and balance. With it comes the strength and courage to move forward and play!
Kate- I love this!!! As a science nerd, I know it is hard to measure… but it is real! When I was a Grad student in California I taught various types of aquatic fitness all over Sonoma County. Water fitness also has a “massage” component, which provides a tactile sensation of water “touching ” all over the body Plus the hydro-static pressure provides automatic compression massage with immersion. Vertical water fitness (including aerobics) when well taught, honors the biomechanical potential for 3D strengthening against resistance, by including good cueing for body alignment and uses of all planes of movement (and I proved this in my thesis project!). My most consistent view of students long-term benefits, besides my 8 week research project, was in a semester-long class format for the University where I learned what Elizabeth Gilbert writes about… Upon end of each (of 4) semester/s, students filled out an optional questionnaire from me. The Top comment I received (besides “I lost a pants size”) was related to starting out the semester feeling fearful, shy, or emotionally weaker but ending the semester finding more inner strength, confidence and power!! They were stronger in their CORE!!! Also anecdotally, I also had a 3 year long private-coaching client whom I knew very well, with a rigid personality and NO lateral flexibility in his body. As an athlete, somehow he only had movement in his sagittal plane (forward/backward). Over the period I worked with him, he became able to move in lateral directions of movement – and his personality became much more flexible!!! True story! I have been compiling some stories since the 90s, so hats off to Jill Miller and those attempting to measure and write about it….