12 Moves to make to recharge creative energy (yoga sequence inside)
Have you ever felt yourself falling into a deep, cavernous creative black hole where it felt like you would never feel creative again?
There was a time when I worked in the belly of the basement of a clothing store. I was a stock manager there and I was responsible for unloading the towering boxes of new clothes that came into the store every day. There were no windows in the basement and only dingy overhead lighting to see by. Days went by where I would hardly see the light of day. I would get home feeling dull, uninspired and unmotivated to do anything creative, even though I had always loved painting and art making. I knew that I really wanted to get back to my creative, thriving self once more, but, I felt so far from my creative spark, that I wasn’t even really sure where to start.
Creative Energy is Always Present
Through my own practice as an artist, my yoga practice and my studies in the field of creativity and healing, I’ve come to believe that even when you are feeling totally + utterly unmotivated and uninspired to be creative, creative energy is still present within you.
It’s there in that tiny, subtle pull to create. To even be aware of the fact that you are feeling uninspired, is to be aware that your creative energy exists. So even though I was feeling unmotivated to be creative when I got home from that life-sucking basement job, the urge to get my creative spark back was an urge coming from the creative energy alive in me somewhere.
How do you recognize the creative energy within you even when it feels like it’s hardly there?
- the urge to be creative (even if you feel like you are not)
- is creativity working it’s way through in ways you may not have considered? Making a meal, humming a song under your breath, making love, doodling in the margins of your notebooks, day and night dreaming are all examples of small creative acts
- Look at the bigger picture of your own life. What kinds of things have you created for yourself (think relationships, family, your home, your career, etc.). Recognize that these too are things that you created!
Recognizing that creative energy is always present within you (even it’s just a tiny, barely attainable drip of energy) is the first step to understanding how to work within the creative process.
Because ultimately, the creative process is about learning to work with the creative energy that is within you, no matter how strong it's current.
Creative Energy Works in Pulsation
I’ll talk a lot about Creative Energy here on the blog. But I should also tell you that from from my yogic studies and exploration of Tantra, I’ve come to understand that Creative Energy is one and the same as Shakti, Divine Feminine Energy:
- In his book Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy Georg Feurstein describes Shakti as “the principle of creativity.”
- Sally Kempton writes in her book, Awakening Shakti, that “The Tantric sages...intuited the feminine as pure creative Eros, the life-force behind all evolution and all change…”
- Teri Deglar, in The Divine Feminine Fire says that “[When] you understand that the [creative] yearning you feel is the voice of Shakti, you can begin to see your longing for creative expression as an integral part of your spiritual path.”
All of this leads me to believe that the main purpose of our creativity is to help us to awaken to ourselves, to help us understand, bit by bit, more of who we are.
What is so facinating to me is that bit by bit part. Shakti’s movements are vibrations. Daniel Odier translation of the Tantric text, The Yoga Spandakarika describes these vibrations as a “sacred tremor.”
The very first stanza of the text says,
“(Shakti) source of energy, opens her eyes and the universe is reabsorbed in pure consciousness; she closes them and the universe is manifested within her.”
I love this image of Shaki opening and closing her eyes. To me, that is often how my creative energy feels. It’s there, open wide, conscious and awake. Then it slowly blinks closed, back into a quiet, covered state.
If creative energy is the same as Shakti and Shakti moves in vibratory tremors, then this could help us to understand why sometimes we feel full and bursting with creative energy and why sometimes we feel all dried up.
Creative energy is always present, but it works in pulsation. Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don’t.
You can even begin to identify your own creative energy working like this! Over the past week, I decided to start tracking my own creative energy. I rated it on a scale of low to high, and although not super scientific, around the same time everyday, I would simply close my eyes and feel into my creative energy and ask myself "Where does it feel like my creative energy is today?"
Here’s what that looked like over the course of the week:
By tracking my creative energy, I recognized that it is not the same day in and day out. If it feels lower one day (or even for many days), I try to remember that it’s always in flux, that it’s always moving (even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.)
So, if you are not feeling creatively motivated or inspired, try tracking your own creative energy and see if you notice a pulsation to it!
Once you discover your own unique rhythm, you too will be able to see a particularly low time of creative energy, is just a passing phase of your creative cycle.
(I also created you a Creative Energy Calendar template for you to use to track your creative energy over the course of a month! You can find it in the Workbook, along with a yoga sequence for reflection at the end of this post!)
The Germination Phase
I like to think of the low creative energy part of the cycle as the “Germination phase.”
And while it may feel uninspired and you may feel unmotivated and stuck, it’s really an important part of your creative energy’s rhythm.
Imagine if you were going out and partying every single night of the week for months. You would be exhausted and probably feel pretty drained. Just like you, your creativity needs rest too. It needs time to withdraw, reflect, and get quiet in order to gain back the energy and the momentum for the next full swing of creative partying.
This time of reflection and rest is perfect for planting the seeds of your ideas, for germinating the tiny inklings you have for projects, paintings, and plans.
It’s a time to let go of all the pre-conceived notions of what you think it means to be creatively productive and to relax and recharge and reflect instead.
If you are a doer like me, you might be wondering what do you actually need to do when you find yourself in this part of your creative energy’s cycle? Well, as promised, here are 12 ideas, 12 moves to make to help you recharge your creative energy.
Most mornings, I spend 10 or 20 minutes writing Morning Pages in my journal. I like to think of it as clearing out the junk in my mind. I write about what I’m thinking, what I’d like to do that day or just stream of consciousness writing. It’s a very soothing process and it is a perfect activity to do when the creative energy is low because you write with no expectations and no agenda. You don’t have to do this in the morning, just find a time that works for you and write out whatever is on your mind.
2. Art journal
This is sort of the visual version of the morning pages. Take out your journal or a sketchbook or even a scrap piece of paper would work! Use pencils or markers or paints or whatever is calling you and simply scribble, doodle, make angry marks or happy ones, whatever you are feeling. Like the morning pages, there is no need to create anything in particular. You are simply drawing or painting out whatever is in your brain space.
3. Day dream
Instead of trying to push yourself through your creative endeavors when you really aren’t feeling it, press the pause button instead. Stare out the window and let your mind wander. Take a breather. Close your eyes and let your mind go wherever it wants to. Where does it go?
4. Go to a museum or shop you’ve never been to before
Get out of the house and out of whatever your normal routine consists of and go someplace new and interesting. Like a museum! Have you ever been to your town’s history museum? Or if you don’t have any museums, maybe a shop you’ve never been into before. Go in and look around. Changes of scenery do wonders for our creative energy and our general wellbeing.
5. Get outside for a hike/ski/bike/walk/[fill in your favorite outdoor activity of choice here]
There is nothing like fresh air and movement to do a body, and your creative energy, a world of good. Breath in the sunshine or snow and engage in an activity that gets your heart going and limbs swaying. Energy. Automatically. Lifted.
6. Meditate and allow yourself to accept where you are in the cycle
Take a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Find your breath and stay with it for a few minutes. Inhale acceptance for where you are right now. Breath out any expectations that you be somewhere different than where you are right now.
7. Find stillness in nature
This one is an iteration of #5, except that instead of engaging in an activity outdoors, see if you can just be still and take in the world around you. Notice the tempature on your skin, the sounds and smells that surround you. Feel your feet grounded in the earth below and the sky wide and expansive above you. This will awaken your senses, which in turn can help you better attune to your creative energy.
8. Learn something new.
Take a class or read a book about a completely new to you subject matter. Salsa dancing. Spanish. Photography. These are my own "things to learn" wish list. What are some of yours? Go forth and strike one off the list! Learning new things opens up new pathways in your brain and that can get the creative energy re-flowing as well.
9. Do a yoga class.
Probably you aren't surprised to see this one on the list! But it's on here for good reason: Yoga helps open you up to your creative energy. It helps you bring awareness and acceptance to where you are with it and it moves you more deeply into the creative flow.
I also created a workbook for you that includes a short yoga sequence for inner reflection:
10. De-clutter a closet in your house
I’ve been into decluttering and ditching things that don’t bring me joy lately (inspired by my Feng Shui friend and this New York Bestseller book). When you aren’t feeling creatively inspired to do anything else, why not tackle one of the places in your home that pulls your energy down every time you look at it?
11. Read something you love
When your creative energy is in a slump, it’s a perfect time to indulge in those guilty pleasures like reading a trashy romance or fantasy (my favorite). Instead of pushing yourself to create when you aren’t into it, let it go. Do something else that you love, like reading!
12. Get enough sleep.
I need to take more of my own advice on this one, but if you aren’t feeling good and rested, there is no way that your creative energy will be either. So catch up on those beautiful zzzz’s. Take a 10 minute power nap. Go to bed early. Take the time you need to rest your body, mind and creative energy.
These are just a few suggestions to remind you that a creative lull is the perfect time to go inward, to reflect and recharge.
Go with the flow of your creative energy rather than resisting it or struggling against it.
Like the Mary Oliver quote says,
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Let all the rest go. There will be a time, very soon perhaps, when you’re creative energy will be totally recharged once again.
So tell me, what will you do to kick back, let yourself love what you love and recharge your creative energy?