“Yoga is not really about getting your body healthy, though it does that too. Yoga is about gaining the knowledge that can free you.”
Michael A Singer – The Untethered Soul
Michael A Singer encapsulates for me just how much yoga can help us tap into our creative genius. Creativity and the creative process is being in a state of flow, where you feel you live in a world of infinite possibilities, anything is doable and you can create your life and your world on new terms. It’s that feeling we get at the end of a great class, laying on our mat in savasana, feeling open and energized.
Singer, who topped the New York Times bestseller list with The Untethered Soul and the The Surrender Experience, had a deep awakening while working on his doctorate in economics in 1971 and went into seclusion to focus on yoga and meditation.
A few years later he founded the Temple of the Universe, where people of any religion or belief can come together to experiment with inner peace. He also created a successful medical management software package and went on to build a billion-dollar enterprise — all from his lodge in the woods outside of Gainesville, Florida. What Singer explores in both The Untethered Soul and his autobiography, which both remain popular and often-cited, is that each of us must learn how to distance ourselves from our busy minds.
Yoga and meditation help us do this by creating awareness, building strength so that our wavering minds can’t deter us. We learn to sit in a tranquil juxtaposition between surrendering to life and having a clear path.
To get really creative, we have to get comfortable with trying many things and failing at most. Failing as part of the creative process should be celebrated, not blocked. So many of us are fearful of making mistakes that we do things the way they have always been done or keep to a tight structure of how they should be done. How can innovation and creativity ever come from this sort of limited mind-set? Sadly, in the 21st century many organizations don’t allow for mistakes. Even when we are able to gain enough inner confidence to create something new, our mind wanders back into old thought patterns on self-destruction and sabotage.
Yoga and meditation, and the awareness and mindfulness they can bring, allows us to create new ideas from a place of knowing.
This “place of knowing” doesn’t mean we know everything, however. Instead it represents a certainty in our surrender to the process and, most importantly, a knowledge we will be fine with things not going as we planned.
So how can we use yoga to get our creative juices flowing?
Here are some tips and tricks I use during my three favourite styles of yoga to boost the imagination — Bikram, Aroma Yin Yoga and Kundalini.
The Empty Room Simulation in yoga
I learned about this type of visualization practice while at the Mandali Experience workshop in Mandali in northern Italy. While you are doing yoga, imagine you are an empty room with the door and windows wide open. Thoughts, energies and memories come and go, but they don’t stay for long. This allows you to clear away all the thoughts about what is possible and what is not. Keep this thought all through the class and then afterwards brainstorm as many possible solutions you can come up with in relation to challenges you are facing.
(I like to try this at the end of Aroma Yin classes, and my favourites are held at Inspire Yoga in Dubai.)
Creative energy meditation
Sit poised, eyes gently focused ahead.
• Imagine a golden red light glowing inside your root chakra (groin) and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with creative energy”.
• Imagine a golden orange light glowing inside your sacral chakra (belly button) and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with blissful energy”.
• Imagine a golden yellow light glowing inside your sacral chakra (belly button) and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with blissful energy”.
• Imagine a golden green light glowing inside your heart chakra and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with loving energy”.
• Imagine a golden blue light glowing inside your throat chakra and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with pure energy”.
• Imagine a golden navy blue light glowing inside third eye chakra and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with powerful energy”.
• Imagine a golden purple light glowing on the top of your crown and silently yet firmly chant “I am filled with intellect”.
End the session with gratitude all the areas in your life where you have shown all these attributes (creativity, bliss, love, purity, power, intellect), paying close attention to where these attributes have positively impacted others.
(I like to try this during Bikram yoga classes.)
The Forgiveness Technique in yoga
When we feel ourselves being creative, there is a sense of flow; like the tides moving in and out of an estuary. When we hold onto resentment or withhold trust from a person based on past hurt, we stunt our natural creative capacities. Since the feeling of flow is an expression of creativity, it’s only natural that resentment, withholding and mistrust would block it.
Forgiveness is the process of letting go of past hurt so that our creativity can flow unobstructed. The forgiveness (Kundalini style) technique involves lying down with a towel under your hands. Imagine someone that you have had difficulties with and imagine hitting them with your fists as you lightly hit the floor with your fists clenched and then opened — for six minutes.
The exercise is followed by a forgiveness meditation to the target of your anger, chanting “I am sorry you are not as I wanted you to be, I forgive you, I release you.”
When I first tried this, so much pent-up anger and frustration came up. Most of my negativity I had imagined went away and I was able to think more clearly and creatively without the target at the forefront of my mind.
(I like to try this with Kundalini and my some of my favorite classes are held at Eco Sanctuary in Dubai.)
In a nutshell creativity and the creative process depends on our ability to reframe difficult situations so that we can learn, grow and benefit from them. Yoga gives us the space to improve our inner mastery; learning to live with common disappointments and failures of the human experience.
Inner mastery does not mean nothing goes wrong; things still go wrong but we get to the point where we can endure them, seeing them as a lesson and opportunities to transform them. Yoga practiced with the above meditation techniques (among many others) allows us to see that things evolve as they are meant to and that we can rise up more than we sunk in life. This allows us to get creative, to get messy, to put ourselves in uncomfortable places and use our imagination, to make mistakes, knowing that we’ve developed our emotional as well as physical muscles to face whatever comes at us. We are strong and adaptable. We are anti- fragile.
Featured photo: Yannis Papanastasopoulos/Unsplash