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The Creative connection: Structure, Self and the Spirit of Creativity.

I’m proud to share this blog from member artist Leah Robinson. The topic is not just at the heart of Leah’s varied work, but the connections between creativity, mind, body and spirit are important to us all. Anna

The Creative connection: Structure, Self and the Spirit of creativity.

I have been making art for as long as I can remember in fact, in my opinion, we all have; In the way we arranged our toys in a way that was meaningful to us as children and painted with our fingers, to what clothes we choose and how we decorate our homes in adulthood. We are all creative beings experiencing our humanness as part of creation itself. We humans exist in relationship to each other and our environment and there has always been a drive within human nature to express this relationship in some way, using materials that we find around us.

Examples of this expression of relationship date back to Sulawesi Cave Art (37,900 BC), El Castillo Cave Paintings (39,000 BC) and even more astonishingly the Bhimbetka and Daraki-Chattan Cupules (290–700,000 BC) which are Petroglyphs or stone carvings.

Ancient humans may not have been aware that they were making ‘art’ exactly, but humans have always used creative capabilities to express a relationship to each other and their environment.

Alongside my work as an artist, I practice and teach yoga and meditation. I see wonderful overlaps between the creative arts, movement and meditation. Each contain elements of discipline and structure along-side the potential for letting go into flow. Whether we record the traces of our activities on paper, canvas, as three- dimensional objects or leave invisible traces in time and space through interactive movement, we are using our bodies and minds together with some sort of creative spirit.

Structure and Flow- When we train as artists, we learn the formal disciplines of measurement, perspective, colour theory etc. Once we have done this, we begin to find our style and our personality comes through. It’s the same with body- based practices like yoga, martial arts or dance. Strength, structure and stamina are needed as a framework upon which to hang one’s own personal flare.

There is something else though, that shows up in the process of making and doing. It is a felt sense. You can’t make it show up, there can be no expectation, but when it’s there you know. I recognise it now as creative spirit.

When structure (shared rules), personality (unique self) and an awareness of ’something other’ are in place, a space opens up for the spirit of creativity to flow. In Yogic terms, we call it Prana, in the Martial arts- Chi or Qi. It is the creative life force that flows through all living things.

When I’m being creative, it is me holding the brush or the pencil and it is my unique relationship to life that shows up in the themes or content of the work, but there is something else present, like a fifth element. It is relationship with the creative spirit of life itself.

Neurology- Creative block & breaking through

Lets bring our attention to the internal communication networks within the physical body.

If we take a look at the brain, we know that there are two hemispheres. The left brain oversees analytical pursuits, mathematical, measured, black and white, rational thinking. It’s sometimes called the digital brain and governs activity on right- hand side of the body. The right brain is responsible for visual and spatial perception and deals with more emotional and social thinking. Right brain coordinates activity on the left- hand side of the body. Creative process draws upon both sides of the brain.

Meditative practices can enhance strong communication between the two hemispheres to enhance our creative practice.

So, when you do stuff, neurological pathways in the body-mind are stimulated. The more you use the same pathway, the more embedded it becomes, like a well- trodden path. This is where the autonomic part of nervous system takes over, our body-mind remembers what it did previously, so we don’t have to think about it over and over again each time we do something similar. It is more energy efficient for us to use the path of least resistance and our body thinks it’s is doing us a favour by not having to think about things. However, this can result in us getting stuck in habitual feedback loops. In terms of physicality, this can lead to lack of flexibility and restriction in the body, potentially leading to a pain response and in terms of creativity, it can lead to feeling stuck and uninspired. Stuck patterns in the mind, can lead to stuck patterns in the body and vice versa.

The great thing about neurological pathways is that they are not fixed, there are gaps between our neurons. With the right stimulation we can connect and create new pathways.

How? Simply through breath and movement, by learning to consciously harness and direct our biological processes. By consciously changing the way in which we breathe and move, we stimulate pathways in the body-mind to bypass habitual loops and access different areas.

Inspiration through the breath- The root of the word breath can be traced back to the Latin ‘Inspirare’ meaning to breathe or to blow on. Many early uses of the word 'inspire' were religious in nature, there being a connection with Spirit, coming from the Latin 'Spiritus', meaning breath. So, if you are looking for inspiration, you can find it in your breath. The yogis say that when we breathe, we inhale oxygen, but also Prana; the creative life force.

In terms of creative practice, moving through a creative block can be done by consciously doing something different. Let go of what you already know; turn it upside down, swap hands, choose a different brush, use a different colour pallet. Take a different route.. literally- Re-route yourself!

Meditation and Creativity- An example from my own practice

As part of my training in Neurobiology, mental health and meditation, I had to complete certain practices on a daily basis and journal my experiences. After practicing one particular meditation for 10 days, which involved mudras (hand gestures), mantra (spoken sounds) and dristi (a gaze point). I noted that I could actually feel sensations in different areas of my brain as I practiced. I could literally feel new pathways being formed.

I went into the studio and began to work. I laid down an acrylic ground to seal my paper, I mixed up some thin oil paint to draw with a brush, I took a graphite stick and reached for my oil pastels, which I never do, messy things, uncontrollable, don’t like them, never use them!

I realised that new things were happening, I was combining materials that I had never put together before. I was curious, confident and connected to flow. And the really astounding thing was that I could feel the same areas in my brain being activated as when I was practicing the meditation! This gave me the perfect experiential understanding of how meditation can enhance creative practice. Examples of these works are below.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram: @ Leah Robinson Art and Soul

I run various workshops; you can find me at The Isbourne centre, Bloom wellbeing and studio and I hold a weekly meditation and yoga nidra class on zoom. Do get in touch if you are interested in finding out more.

Thank you very much, Leah, for sharing this with us. I hope it will resonate and lead to many conversations about the link between art, creativity, mind and body.

Anna Poulton


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