Go Creative! Podcast Season 1, Episode 7: Creative Movement, Creative Stillness

In this episode, Orna Ross delves into the dynamic interplay between creative movement and creative stillness for enhanced creative practice, and overall well-being. With insights on how to harness the power of both movement and stillness, it also offers practical tips to integrate conscious motion and tranquility into your daily life.

Read the Transcript to Go Creative! Podcast Season 1, Episode 7: Creative Movement, Creative Stillness

Orna Ross: Hello and thank you for being here. Today, I want to talk about creative movement and creative stillness, and I suppose the dynamic interplay between those two, because stillness and movement are always there and it's how we tap into them.

And of course, in this podcast, all about conscious creativity, we're going to be talking about conscious movement and conscious stillness.

The other thing to say, I'll talk a little bit in a moment about what I specifically mean when I talk about movement and when I talk about stillness from a creative perspective, but one of the most important things to say is that we need to embrace both of them, motion and tranquillity, you might call it.

There are so many different words and so many ways of expressing this for ourselves, but the point here that we're getting at is making movement and stillness in our lives more conscious. So, we're consciously varying the pace of our lives in an engaged way, rather than being swept along by other people's movements and often a lack of core stillness.

There are so many reasons for doing this. Not only does it enhance your creative practice, if you have one, if you're a writer, an artist, or somebody who either wants to, or is already making creative practice their work.

Obviously, an understanding of movement and stillness is very important for you, but for all of us, no matter what, this podcast is all about creating everything in our lives and seeing our lives as a work of unfolding art, and turning up for that, and making that happen for ourselves, and understanding movement and stillness and how they connect, and understanding the importance of pace is something that will contribute to your overall wellbeing at every level, physical, psychological, spiritual, as well as in terms of just increasing creative flow and increasing your availability for creative flow.

This episode will be a mix of my personal insights and ideas around this, but also some practical tips to help you harness the power of both movement and stillness in your creative lives.

So, what do I actually mean when I'm talking about creative movement?

From my experience and observation, movement is best addressed through the body and stillness is best addressed through the mind. So, that's how we will be approaching it.

What I mean by movement is something so basic and so much there for us that we may not even notice it. We often don't, we're often not tapped into it, but essentially life is always in movement. How we know we're alive is things are moving. Our breath is moving, our systems, our blood systems, our endocrine system, our hormonal system, all our systems are in movement, in constant vibration at minimum, but very often flow, which can be easily detected now with medical instruments.

All life is movement, and all life needs to move. That's why when we're creatively blocked, when we feel stuck, it feels so horrible, because we're going against the flow of life. Life wants to keep moving. It doesn't really judge good and bad the way the human mind does, it's either in existence, in flow, in movement, or it's dead. It's stuck. It's not on the move.

So, aligning with our life force, aligning with our creative force means we always need to look at the flow within us. This is why exercise is important, this is why aerobic exercise is particularly important because that is what gets all the system moving and circulating more speedily with the result that when we stop actually exercising, all our systems are still in flow, and we can feel this. We experience it. We feel it in our skin. We feel it internally in our lungs, in our heart. Everything actually feels so much better, feels so much more alive when we're on the move.

Then the other side of this is creative stillness. When I think of creative stillness, I think, and I'm talking about stilling the mind, ancient Eastern wisdoms I think are by far still the most useful body of knowledge we have in terms of understanding both the role of stillness in a good life, in a full life, in a creative life, and ways in which to still the mind, because stilling the mind is actually a challenge, and it's not something we need to do all day, every day. It's more like we tap into it whenever we become conscious of it.

But that tapping in can become impossible if the flow of thought and the flow of busyness around us and in our lives doesn't give us the opportunity to stop and connect. So, stillness is all about developing our awareness of what is actually happening and connecting into that.

Stillness grounds us. It takes the flow of movement that's going on within us and it attaches us to the deep, underground swell of creative energy that's physically embodied in the earth, but also is spiritually there. We can feel it when we think about creative spirit as something that's also on the move within us.

When we still ourselves, we become available to that dimension of the movement within us. So, stillness and movement are really closely connected.

Techniques to actually bring us into stillness, the two most widespread used, the most popular, in other words, two of the most popular methods for stilling the mind are one, mindful breathing. So, just the simple mindful breathing act of following your breath with your mind, just watching your breath enter your body and watching your breath leave your body, and becoming aware of those turning points at which the breath ceases to be on the out movement and begins to be on the in movement, and similarly becoming aware of the turning point from inward, moving again to outward.

It's no coincidence that in the English language we call taking in the breath inspiration, and when we tap into mindfulness around our breath then we are tapping into our own conscious inspiration. It's so simple. It's been practiced by human beings for at least 7,000 years in the written record we know, but I'm quite certain it was handed down through oral traditions for many thousands of years before that.

The miracle of it is we can do this anytime. Anytime we want to, we can take a mindful breath and know that when we do, we are tapping into our own creative flow.

The irony, of course, is that the moment when we most need to do it is the moment when it is most challenging to do. So, the idea of meditation, which is the second most popular method for accessing stillness. When I talk about meditation, I'm talking about the formal practice of sitting on a cushion. Mindful breathing is itself meditation, waking up to the world and seeing and being aware of that is the moment of meditation. So, you don't have to be formally sitting on a cushion to be meditating. Indeed, it's the opposite.

The idea is that by formally practicing in a moment where you can sit on the cushion, become aware of what's going on inside you and outside you, that whole formal sitting properly, maybe cross legged on the floor, but certainly with an erect spine, with the head held in the proper place so that you've got good spinal alignment with the hands relaxed, the limbs relaxed, and the body holding you erect, and in that position doing an actual meditation technique, and of course there are many of them.

Mindful breathing is something you can do in formal practice for hours. Vipassana practitioners do it for days, but there are lots of other meditation practices, and I would really encourage you, if you don't meditate, if you haven't ever gone there, to find a good meditation class near you. There will be one in your town, at least one, there'll be many probably, and to track down a meditation method that suits you.

If you don't want to do it in person, I highly recommend InsightTimer.

I'm going to be putting some of my own meditations for creatives on InsightTimer shortly, but it is jam packed with brilliant teachers.

The thing about Meditation is, it's very personal, and getting the right teacher for you is the most important thing. So, finding somebody who clicks with you where you're at right now, speaks to you, makes your heart glow and you're attracted to how they think about it, the language that they use.

I love Tanis Fishman for Yoga Nidra. I love Jennifer Pearcy for anything to do with sleep and twilight and stillness. They are just two names that jump into my head as I'm speaking, but there are so many great teachers on InsightTimer, and indeed I have playlists there that you can tap into if you wish.

So, the whole point about stillness is that it's easy to overlook, and movement gets more attention. That is the reason that we create a ritual around stillness, sitting on the cushion each morning and maybe even each evening as well, not necessarily for a long time, but just getting used to that act of stilling the mind. It is helpful to do longer sessions once a quarter, to actually do some form of retreat where you spend a whole day, or even better, a whole weekend, better again, a whole week in stillness and in just allowing that.

Because when you do it for a long period, first of all, you're training your mind and we've spoken before about habits, and I'll be speaking about them again without a doubt, and just getting your brain in the habit of stilling itself, when you do it for a long period, you really feel the benefits, you literally feel that rush of creative energy inside. It is so nurturing and so energizing. It both develops the habit within you and also shows you the extraordinary benefits when you really go there.

So, I highly recommend retreats as often as you can and want to, but the daily practice is actually the most important thing. The daily practice and the tapping in on a daily basis, that is what keeps it in your life, makes you aware, keeps you open. There is no point, and I have known people in the past who sit and then that's it for the day. Of course, it's having an effect, but they're losing out on so much by not consciously bringing that into the day.

It will spontaneously rise sometimes for you and that's the gift, but we're looking at the opposite side where we bring our effort, and we turn up.

So, movement is exercise. It means moving the body, getting on the move, and mindful movement where you harness awareness and conscious awareness and bring the brain into very live awareness of what the body is doing.

So again, you can focus on your breath during an exercise routine and that makes it something else. It brings both of those things together.

Yoga is a form of exercise obviously that very consciously does this, and there are all sorts of different kinds of yoga practices. Again, I'd really encourage you to find a yoga teacher who matches you. There are loads on InsightTimer and loads of other places online as well.

The wonderful thing about the meditation and yoga community is they're super generous and they're sharing their gift in a very similar way to the way artists and writers share their gifts. So, money need be no object here. You will find wonderful teachers generously just letting it flow towards you.

So yes, do tap into yoga, but running, walking, swimming, any aerobic exercise, dancing is brilliant. Any aerobic exercise can be used consciously to foster your creative flow.

The bringing together the synergy between the two, that's where the magic really happens. So, you practice both separately, but then you can bring them together, and when you bring movement and stillness together in a moment, something very special happens.

So, I think the main thing to take away from this podcast then, as well as bringing more exercise into your life for a creative reason. So, I am exercising for my creative flow. I am meditating for my creative flow.

If creativity is really important to you, it can be really helpful for you to take that on board and understand that. You'll see all sorts of benefits. If you maintain this sort of healthy balance between conscious activity and conscious rest, you're going to see lots of things unfolding in your life.

I suggest a morning ritual where you don't leave the house without first tapping into both creative rest and creative play, sorry, creative movement. Play is very wrapped up in movement, hence the Freudian slip there, and we've talked a lot about creative play before, and the more you move in your creative play sessions, the more energizing and uplifting they often are.

But that morning ritual, where you, first thing in the day just, in a sense, honour your commitment to your own creative energy, your own creative power, by consciously doing some form of rest and some form of movement.

It can be really simple. For me, morning is prime creative time. So, I don't actually want to do a long period of exercise or meditation first thing in the morning. I used to, in a previous routine for many years, actually, I turned first to conscious meditation and conscious free writing and jogging, but I don't do that anymore. All I do now for my routine first thing in the morning is I do two sun salutations takes just a few minutes.

When I say two, two rounds, two on each side. The first one is a sort of warmup, and in the second round I am very much connecting with the breath and letting the breath bring me through the movement. Then I sit on the cushion for just one minute with a smile on my face.

This is something I started to do. I got it from Kenneth Soares, who's another InsightTimer teacher I really love.

The act of smiling, I'll talk about it another time in another context, but actually the act of smiling is the most restful position for your face to take. There is really interesting research now showing that most often something happens that makes us smile, but when we consciously smile, we're actually making something happen within us, which has very similar effects on us hormonally. So, I will talk about that again another time because it's really interesting research, but that is part of my ritual now.

So, my ritual in the mornings now is literally no more than 10 minutes. Often just five, but I am completely present for that very short space of time, and that just gets me off. I go then, do my writing, and write for two 90-minute periods with a break in between, and then I get my exercise and then I do a more concentrated period of meditation post exercise.

So, that's my routine. You'll have yours in the evening.

I do moon salutations before bedtime, and my husband and I sit together as often as we can if we're not out or away or whatever. If he's not there, I sit myself for about 15-20 minutes later on in the evening. So, my more formal unconscious practice is now taking place later in the day than it used to, and you'll find your routine and rituals will change as well.

But the important thing is to have them. They are the anchor. They are what will keep you tied into creative rest and creative play.

So, that's it for this week. I would encourage you to try and incorporate a new movement or stillness practice into your routine this week and just see how you get along with it.

Share your experiences and insights, as ever, on social media using #GoCreative.

Please do subscribe to the podcast or leave a review. If you'd like to become a patron, you can do that at patreon.com/OrnaRoss. So, thank you for being here. I hope you have a wonderful creative week.