I bought my first Moleskine journal freshman year of college. The hard cover and smooth pages gave this organization-loving Virgo a jolt of excitement. I tucked that notebook under my arm everywhere I went and would often post up in a coffee shop or late-night diner filling its once-blank pages with collegiate musings and big dreams. This was the first of dozens of notebooks I'd come to fill, collaging photos cut from magazines or scrap postcards found at secondhand shops. The time I spent writing and creating brought me home to myself.
But as the year went on, writing began to feel like a chore. As a journalism major, I spent more time typing and far less scribbling. Dreaming gave way to researching. I didn't know it then, but my creativity was slowly being stifled and, in turn, I felt less nourished.
Fast forward, post college. I got a desk job as an online editor in Washington, DC---by all measures a success, but there was disease in my body, and my mind was sluggish. I felt stuck. On a walk in my new city, I passed a yoga studio nestled in a row house and decided to sign up for a class. As I sat in the final meditation and took deep breaths---my first in months---I felt something ignite inside of me, something already there but forgotten. That first class felt like a homecoming in every possible way.
Meditation has since become a mainstay in my life, particularly now that we're relentlessly tethered to technology via smartphones and email inboxes. It's vital to step away. If we're always consuming someone else's ideas or social media feed, how can we ever possibly feel creative?
After all, creativity itself is a meditation. It doesn't have to be expressed in painting, drawing, or even writing; instead, our creativity is, or is not, reflected in how we choose to live.
As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic, "The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust---and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible."
For me, living creatively means living from a place of intention rather than habit or knee-jerk reactions. Even with a rambunctious two-year-old, I have the choice between sitting with my cup of coffee and taking a few deep breaths or moving immediately into reaction mode.
Study with Mary Beth: For a mind-body journey into imagination, join her online Yoga for Creativity course: yogajournal.com/yogaforcreativity. DIMA_SIDELNIKOV/ISTOCK
Creativity offers us a way to get unstuck. This meditation explores our connection to an inventive life, focusing on the second chakra, the svadhisthana chakra, also known as the seat of the Self. Svadhisthana teaches us that we can be our true Selves. In this space, we connect with a sense of fluidity, sexuality, and imagination.
Get comfortable. Begin your meditation practice lying on your back with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Place your hands below your belly button, over your svadhisthana chakra. Take a moment to observe your breath as it moves in and out of your nose with ease.
Welcome sensation. As you breathe, notice what you're feeling through the soles of your feet, the back of your body, even through your belly and heart. Use this awareness and that of your breath to anchor yourself here.
Cultivate intention. Focus on what you'd like to create for yourself, whether it's a tangible goal or simply more space to dream. Continuing to breathe deeply, allow your intention to infuse your breath.
Visualize. The color orange is associated with the second chakra and represents fascination, happiness, creativity, attraction, and success. Visualize this hue below your navel to connect more deeply to all that's rooted there.
Get unstuck. Our own limiting stories about ourselves can prevent us from moving forward or tapping into creativity. Loosen your grip on those blocks by breathing into them. Release one with each exhalation. Remember: You are perfect, you are whole, you are inherently creative.
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