Unleashing Creative Freedom
Episode #1 of the course Creative mindfulness: Ten ways to chill out and enjoy creativity by K.C. Finn
Welcome to the course!
I’m K.C. Finn, the multi-award-winning and bestselling author of young adult, fantasy, and horror fiction. I use creativity and creative methods every day for work, but I also find that engaging in daily creative practice helps with issues of stress, anxiety, low mood, and general mental health. I’m here to show you how transferring creative skills into the realm of mindfulness can help you too!
Mindfulness is the art of focusing your brain in a relaxed manner and allowing yourself to notice sensory experiences as a means of reaching a state of peace in your own head. This is particularly useful for people who are prone to stress and negative thinking, but not everyone can access mindfulness in the traditional meditative way. This course is designed for people who like to be busy but also recognize that they need to chill out once in a while.
Onto the first lesson! Today, we’ll be looking at the concept of openness, which is the first step to creating mindful practices. We’re going to do this through a creative speaking exercise. It’s an important stage, where we need to learn to permit ourselves room for mindfulness in everyday life and remove any negative stigma that we might feel about our own creativity levels.
There are two elements to today’s exercise: what you say and how you say it.
The theory behind what you say comes from the realms of positivity training and the now old-fashioned idea of a positive mental attitude. Some call it accepting, allowing, or affirmation, but I’ll call it openness for our purposes. The lines that you say during your speaking exercise will have a positive meaning, dispelling any negativity or self-doubt that you might have when you’re starting this process. By saying these affirmations aloud, you will hear the promises that you make to yourself. The more you do this, the easier it is to believe in them.
The importance of doing this speaking exercise out loud may not be apparent at first, but it’s actually your first step toward a mindful activity. The act of speech (as opposed to internal thought) requires you to use your lungs and mouth, as well as your brain. The control of breath and the airflow in and out of our lungs affects the oxygen levels present in our blood, which in turn, strongly affect mood, nerves, and even brain function. Not only can you utilize this activity to help you believe in the course and the activities ahead, but you can also begin your calming journey from those first minutes of the day.
The creative element of today’s activity is an easy one to start you off. Your first step is to take a pen and paper and write two short lists. The first list is a selection of positive things that you’d like to get out of trying creative mindfulness—for example, “To take a peaceful break from my working day,” or, “To try something new.” Then, in the second list, write down doubts or criticisms about mindfulness, either that you believe now or have heard other people say. Try to make five points on each list if you can.
Now, alter your lists. On the positive side, change your wishes into “I will” statements—for example, “I will try something new today.” On the negative side, change those negatives into positives—for example, change “Mindfulness is a waste of my time,” to, “Mindfulness is not a waste of my time.” Once you have your new list, stand or sit up straight so your lungs are able to fully expand. Make each statement once, and be sure to take a big breath in before you say every one of the ten lines. Let the words out slowly, with your breath, and make them loud and clear (even if it frightens the neighbors!).
Once this activity is completed, you will have made a deliberate moment in your day to practice mindfulness, and this could be just the first of many on your journey to a more peaceful way of life. This activity proves that you do actually have time to breathe in your busy life and that even five minutes of thinking about self-care and positivity can make the world of difference.
In the future, you could adapt this technique as a daily startup, perhaps at the bathroom mirror in the morning or while you’re taking a shower. Thinking of the day ahead, you can make “I will” statements for the things you need to accomplish that day, and turn any doubts you have about the events of the day into positive statements instead. Once you’ve allowed yourself the chance to be open to other possibilities than just the first thought that pops into your head, you have much more control over your thoughts and actions.
Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at the first of our art-based methods, so you’ll need paper and anything that you can make marks with (pencils, charcoal, crayons, etc.).
Until then, start thinking about that list!
For further reading on getting yourself into the right state of mind for creative and mindful practices, check out the Art of Mindfulness and their key attitudes list.
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