Melanie Pinto @thefreedomfactorytoronto 16/04/20
It's lockdown 2020. The extroverts have had their wings clipped, confining them to their quarters. The introverts have been invaded as the rest of world, hungry for interaction, calls their cell phones, sends Zoom invites and never leaves the damn house. We have all been evicted from the comfort zone. Regardless of your current position on the social distancing spectrum, it's certain to shift over the coming weeks.
So while we live through another episode of Groundhog Day, creatives must find ways to stay inspired and in a creative flow. While some days the urge to put paint to canvas or pen to paper is strong and it's exciting to have uninterrupted time; other days turn into a chip eating, binge watching, pajama marathon. We believe that balance is attainable and offer you some tools to help you thrive through lockdown 2020.
The impact of Covid 19 varies greatly from person to person and understandably, some are coping with greater loss than others. The majority of us are dealing with a range emotions including uncertainty, boredom, fear, insecurity, anticipation loneliness, love and the list goes on. Give yourself permission to experience whatever comes up. Without judgement explore the feelings. Notice how you feel when you wake up and throughout the day? Is there a shift mid morning? Notice what was happening prior to the shift. How do these emotions affect your desire to create. How does each emotion translate creatively? What, if anything, does it inspire you to create? Leave a notebook handy or use your phone to make short observations about your what you've experienced. Many creatives use emotion as fuel for their work already, but these unprecedented times have the potential to reveal fresh perspectives.
Of course we would be remiss if we didn't remind you that it's important to talk to someone or reach out for professional help should your negative feelings be overpowering or prolonged. We may be on lockdown but we have a powerful network of support behind us.
Live In The Moment
While this is a always a mantra to live by, it's a lifeline to creativity in times like these. Hopefully, we will not face a challenge such as this again in our lifetime, but we're here now. Slow down and experience it. Unless you're independently wealthy, working on an artist stipend or on vacation, when was the last time that you could stay home and create at will? Consider this a gift of time and actively connect to it. Move through your day with intention maintaining focus on each activity. Create a list, either the night before or in the morning, of things that need/want to accomplish and a rough timeline. This will reassure your mind, allowing the little mental alarms to fade.
Start your morning feeling the warm sheets against your skin. Feel your body slowly wake and welcome the day with a gentle stretch. Breathe and smile and actually say good morning out loud. If you're lucky enough to have wild children or a pet that wakes you with kisses or jumping on your head, embrace the innocence. Play with the water temperature in your shower and notice how your body reacts to the changes. Treat yourself to that avocado face mask that you've been talking about since December. Let the dog lead the way on its walk and notice where it chooses. Notice the world around, no matter how small it seems at the moment. As you move with intention, what do you notice? How does your body feel? Notice elements of the activity that you may have overlooked in the past.
While kinesthetic memory, or the ability to complete tasks with little or no conscious focus, is essential, we can stimulate creative flow by slowing these processes when we are relaxed and it's appropriate to do so. As you walk across a room feel each part of your body engage. Notice all of the bones in your feet touch the floor. Can you attach a colour or pattern to the movement? Imagine the muscles in your legs contract and extend. Choose a few favourite moments of each day and translate them into a creative expression in some way. Sketch it, sculpt it or simply do a voice recording describing the moment.
Engage Your Senses
We are gifted with numerous feelers which connect us to the world around us yet they are often so over stimulated that we miss much of their story. Play with these incredible tools. Perhaps set time aside to experiment with a specific sense or simply tune in the what's available, as you move through the day. Cooking a simple meal is a sensory journey. Enjoy the colours of each vegetable, appreciating the striation. Smell and taste the herbs; experience the crunch of a carrot. Find words or imagery to describe the sound of onions sautéing in a pan. If you have been wearing fuzzy pants for the past week, get dressed up. See yourself differently and notice how the clothes feel on your body. Stimulating our senses takes us out of the prefrontal cortex, or the "thinking brain" and allows free creative flow, stirs memories and boosts mood. Explore your space in a whole new way and see what this sparks creatively!
Dance... Stretch... Jump... Do yoga...
Your body is a creative tool box ready to be plugged in and charged up. Free uninhibited movement and careful practiced actions are all necessary in order to balance the energetic flow in the mind and body. Not only does exercise release endorphins to reduce stress and elevate mood it affects sections of that brain that regulate problem solving, memories, imagining new ideas and encourages more decisive thinking. These are a few of the ways creative flow benefits from you finding a new playlist and dancing like a superstar. Take a new class. Build your yoga practice with online instruction. Jump and play with your family members and housemates. You'll be amazed at how many creative solutions or ideas appear mid workout.
While the gift of time is quite remarkable and we want to use it wisely, there is a risk of us filling it with long "to do" lists and high expectations. Amidst all that we are coping with and all that we can accomplish its essential that we remember to rest. There is a stressful energy worldwide and we are at our best when we honour our own needs. Sleep, feed your body and mind and enjoy some slow days without a schedule. Explore meditation allowing the nervous system to restore. Claim some quiet time for yourself and check in on friends. Rest is not laziness; rest is healing and self care that you deserve.
Creative flow, like a body of water, has its natural ebb and flow. We hope that these tools inspire an your once in a lifetime series of work.