The Creative Machine on the Yoga Mat - by Teri Harman

 

This week I present you with some awesome insights on the benefits of yoga and mediation for artists from my sister Teri Harman. Teri is a writer who does yoga. She’s also a certified instructor (RYT-200, YogaFit I). She has three published novels: Blood Moon, Black Moon, and Storm Moon. Teri writes a book column for ksl.com and contributes book segments to Utah’s #1 lifestyle show, Studio 5 with Brooke Walker. In other words, she is way legit and I'm really excited to share some of her work with you here. Also, this post includes info on upcoming workshops Teri will be giving on writing and yoga that you should definitely check out. I got to attend her last workshop and had a great time doing some yoga, mediating and writing!

The Creativity Machine on a Yoga Mat

I have a love/hate relationship with creativity. I don’t mean that in the causal way most people say they have a love/hate with . . . Wal-Mart or fake nacho cheese. There are days when I’m deeply passionate about my creativity and other days I wish to slash it Psycho-style out of my life.

True creativity—the kind that writes novels, paints landscapes, and composes symphonies—is a machine, intricately complicated and multi-faceted. It is “a revolutionary, non-pollution-ary mechanical wonder!” (Proudly quoting 1970’s Willy Wonka.)

For many years, I didn’t think much about it, didn’t even realize there was a machine. Writing was just something I loved to do. But then I tried to do it professionally and, lo and behold, my writing wasn’t so great out there on the stage where people throw tomatoes.

As I began to uncover the machine, to see all the parts, all the cogs that must turn in order for me to produce a publishable novel, I realized just how thorny it is to be an artist.

Creativity is a whole person endeavor; it is a process of the mind, body, and spirit. It’s not, as common belief holds, merely an intellectual thing. The act of creating something meaningful requires a synergy of who we are—past, present, and future—and strenuous, sustained effort.

In professional creativity there is the beauty of creating and the ugliness of selling. Dealing with stress, deadlines, expectations, rejections, reviews, sales/no sales, etc.

Oh, the many parts of this machine!

So what’s the maintenance plan? How do we make this machine work for us, not against?

We need a system that treats the mind, body, and spirit. Techniques that manage stress, recuperate optimism, and cultivate inspiration. Something that keeps things moving efficiently, keeps all the chaos in perspective.

David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book, “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking,” wrote, “Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself.”

That system, the way to find nourishment, is yoga and meditation.

Since the Internet loves a good list, here are . . .

The Top 10 Reasons Artists Should Practice Yoga and Meditation

1. Stimulate imagination

Build a Sherlock-worthy mind palace, loaded with ideas and inspiration.

2. Focus Energy

Whatever your art, yoga and meditation help direct energy to what you love/need/want.

3. Meaningful Mind Wandering

Clear the clutter and let the mind wander around, like a two-year-old at the park, to find all the little things that really matter.

4. Solitude

Being alone is an artist’s haven. It’s not bad, it’s blissful. Eric Sean Nelson said, “Solitude is a condition not of escaping the world but of encountering it.”

5. Improve Focus

Teach yourself to NOT get distracted by the million things that are distracting. Improve focus and concentration, and watch your output skyrocket.  

6. Create healthy habits

We can be more productive when we are healthy. Whole person health is a marvelous thing.

7. Mindfulness

Inspiration is a choice. When we start to pay attention, to truly live in the moment, a whole continent of ideas is suddenly right in front of us.

8. Promote Gratitude and Empathy

Emotional maturity is not only healthy personally, but a huge facilitator to creating art that speaks to humanity.

9. Provide Techniques to Deal with Stress

Yoga and meditation are called restorative, which means they help our whole selves battle all the bad.

10. Promote clear, calm thinking

Who doesn’t want that?

Practicing yoga and meditation is not only a great way to live your life, but a tremendous boon to a creative profession. If you’d like to give it a try and learn more, I offer workshops (most for free). Details below.

Otherwise, try some YouTube yoga classes. I recommend Lesley Fightmaster’s channel. Take 10-20 minutes every day to sit comfortably still, close your eyes, and focus on breathing in and out through the nose. As you focus on your breath, allow your mind to quiet. So simple, yet so amazing.

Beloved Yoga master Yogananda said, “Focus your attention within. You will experience new power, new strength, and new peace of body, mind, and spirit. All bonds that limited you will be removed.”

Namaste and happy art making,

Teri

Free Writers Do Yoga Workshops

Thursday, May 19, 2016
7-8:30pm
Provo City Library
550 N University Ave, Provo, UT 84601, Bullock Room

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
7-8:30pm
Gale Center
1600 W. Towne Center Dr. (10610 S.), South Jordan, Utah

For more info and to sign up for Teri's Newsletter visit her site teriharman.com.

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