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creativity: ‘To express yourself you have to know yourself...'

‘To express yourself you have to know yourself… What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you and it expands.’ – Ethan Hawkes

Following the ridiculous ad campaigns from the government suggesting those working in the arts should retrain, re-skill and reboot, I thought actually maybe I’ll focus more on my creativity rather than toss it to the side (always the rebel, I know).

Would you consider yourself a creative person? Do you nurture your creative outlets? Is there a time in your life that you think you were more creative? Do you value creativity, and if not why?

There’s really a lot to think about and often a stigma associated with the creative arts. So often we’re told you either have it or you don’t with regards to creativity and producing works of ‘art’. Many people are told they can’t draw, can’t sing, can’t act, can’t design…you get the point.

This idea that we can’t do these creative things is nonsense! Instead of thinking about producing works of art that will be appreciated by others, we should look at our creativity as a form of self-expression. Something we do as a form of therapy or just for the pure enjoyment of it. And who’s to say you’re bad at something anyway? Many of the greatest artist died penniless with no critical acclaim only to be considered one of ‘the greats’ years after their death. These artists weren’t looking for approval, they were trying to express themselves.

So, how can we do this through yoga? In fact, the yoga sutras have an answer for us on this one.

Sutra 2.1 translated is ‘Yoga in the form of action has 3 parts: 1. Training and purifying the senses, 2. Self-study in the context of teachings, 3. Devotion and tapping into the creative source from which we emerged.’ So, the way I like to see this is practice practice practice, observe your practice and tendencies, then with that focus and love of the practice creativity will reveal itself and we just have to be open to seeing it (simple?). This really mirrors something that Steve Jobs once said ‘Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.’ This dedication to a practice, whatever that practice may be, is what opens you up to seeing those creative options; what Jobs called the ‘obvious’.

Now you may think that your first works of ‘art’, whether that be the first yoga flow you created, or your first attempt at pottery or sculpting or poetry, are not exactly what you had in mind, they may not be particularly great, but remember, this is your first go! We need to practice practice practice. After all, creativity is a skill that needs nurturing and if you need proof, many of the great artists and poets of our time didn’t write one great poem or paint one incredible painting and think ‘that’s it, it’s perfect, creativity: check!’ They had thousands and thousands of pieces, some not appreciated by the critics (whoever they may be) but were all crucial in their journey of finding themselves through their chosen form of self-expression and resulting in that ‘masterpiece’.

Now the beauty in this process is that there is no competition. You can practice the same thing as your neighbour over and over and observe your practice, tapping into the creative source, but your expressions will be very different because ‘Although individuals perceive the same objects, these objects are perceived in different ways, because those minds are each unique and beautifully diverse.’ (Sutra 4.15). Which brings us all the way back to that first quote: ‘To express yourself you have to know yourself… What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you and it expands.’ – Ethan Hawkes. And so, the cycle of creativity and getting to know yourself continues to evolve through practice, observing and opening up, not by retraining, re-skilling and rebooting (however catchy that sounds)!

I’d love to see your creative expressions! If you found this helpful and want to tag me on Facebook or Instagram go for it! Or if you fancy joining our TreeHouse Collective this month we’ll be focusing on creativity and actually practicing this in our yoga classes. For more info or to book click here.

Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

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