Go Creative! Podcast: Season 1, Episode 6: Finding Creative Flow: An Activation

Orna Ross explores the internal dynamics of creative resistance, emphasizing that the creative flow is an ever-present force, though we often disconnect from it through conflicted thoughts and feelings. And she offers a powerful activation process for finding creative flow through internal dialogue.

Read the Transcript to Go Creative! Podcast Season 1, Episode 6: Finding Creative Flow: An Activation

Orna Ross: Hello, creatives and creativists. Today, I want to look at the internal dynamics of creative resistance.

As I'm always saying on the podcast, creative flow is always there for us. It's like an underground river flowing through life. We often disconnect from it though, through conflicted thoughts and feelings mostly.

So, in this episode, what I want to do is offer you the activation that I use myself for finding creative flow whenever it's not easily accessed, particularly in moments of high creative resistance.

This process I find intensely powerful because there are all sorts of voices within us. Creativity isn't about relentlessly moving forward towards our goals. It's actually, as we discussed last week, it's all about enabling us to grow and be a more expansive and a bigger, and you might want to say better human being, and that's why we choose this way of being because it's the best way to live.

So, we know that in so choosing, what comes with this is resistance. We're always a throwing that ball out and then running after it, and then in between where we are and where we want to go, there is this gap and it gets filled with thoughts and emotions from the small to the large, about why we shouldn't be doing this, or why we shouldn't be doing it this way, or why it's not the right time, or why we haven't got time, or why we're too busy, or too much else going on in our lives, or we're no good anyway, we never were, and we never will be, and blah, blah, blah. So many thoughts, so many ways of looking at things.

At the same time, there are all these other parts of us that are pushing us forward, that want us to expand, that want the growth to happen.

The thing is that between all the voices, we can be stuck. So, we're doing a lot of thinking, we're doing a lot of feeling, but we're not doing a lot of doing. And of course, fundamental core identifier of going creative is action, not thought, not feeling, but action. So, integrating thought, feeling, and action all together so that they all work as one.

What I want to do is to say that first of all, that dynamic is never going to go away. Everyone who ever makes anything worthwhile feels this creative conflict, and the writers and artists among you will know exactly what I'm talking about. There's this expansive attraction, this thing you really want to do, deeply want to do, and then the attendant contraction.

It's not even that simple. It's not even that polarised. It's not even that dual. We can have loads of different things, several parts of ourselves, reacting against each other.

I find that the bigger the challenge, the bigger the creative challenge we present ourselves or that life presents to us, then the more parts of ourselves that can be talking to each other, arguing against each other, squashing each other, suppressing each other, trying to put each other down, trying to express ourselves, and it can all feel quite painful, and certainly very chaotic.

Resistance has loads of faces. It doesn't just have one face. We talk about the internal critic a lot in creative circles, but the critic is just one of our many faces, and if genuine, and this is the whole point of this finding flow activation, if genuine creative expansion is going to happen, then we have to understand and integrate all of the voices within us.

So, I think before we get into the actual activation itself, it's really important to realize that suppressing a voice or pushing ourselves onwards, harder, overlaying internal objections with positive affirmations, what you might call forced positivity and suppression or oppression of ourselves. This all just exacerbates our internal conflict and this all uses a tremendous amount of creative energy that could be used in creative action.

So, while all of this is going on, we've got this kind of leeching of our creative energy, and the suppression and the forced positivity can actually intensify the conflict.

You can't expand by cutting a bit of yourself off. There may be parts of yourself that you'd rather not engage with; they're too petty, they're too whiny, they're too broken, they're too sad. Whatever it might be, we don't want to go there, but by cutting that away, we're actually making ourselves smaller because that's what cutting part of yourself away will do and creativity is always about making ourselves larger. It's about expansion.

So, for true creative expansion to happen for you in whatever creative process you're project you're taking on board, whatever it is you want to create in the world, whether it's a better relationship, a new home, or do up part of your home or garden, or a work development, whatever it is, it doesn't matter what the project is. The expansion requires you to acknowledge and integrate all the facets of your creative energies, including resistance, the resistant parts. So, that's acknowledge, accommodate, and integrate the different aspects of your creative energy.

Then with both creative resistance and creative intention integrated into each other, that's when creative flow happens. Flow then will spontaneously rise. You can't chase flow, you can't make it happen, can't force it to happen. It arises in you and bears you forward, lifts you like the wave of a sea, and that happens when you integrate the different voices inside you. So, that's what this finding flow process actually aims to do.

So, what is it? And get ready to do it here now as you are listening to the podcast, and you will learn how to do it, again, if you do it a number of times, eventually you'll be able to do it spontaneously.

So, I now find that, when something comes up for me where I find that I'm not feeling good, that's how I know resistance is happening. I'm not feeling good. So, what's that all about? And getting in there, I can do this finding flow activation very quickly now and move through. There are four stages of it. I can move through those four stages really quickly, but when you begin, when you start out, you do them slowly. Take your time. Give yourself the time for the voices to actually sound themselves and say what it is they want to say.

It's a four-part internal process. You're going to turn your attention inwards, and it's a process of dialogue and conversation. So, it's going to be an internal dialogue conversation, and conversation and dialogue means listening, so the most important thing here is to allow listening to happen.

Then when all of that happens, you get creative alignment and integration.

So, I would say to you, if this is your first time to do this, if you're feeling a little bit sceptical in particular, if you're not used to doing this sort of creative exercise, I would say to you, and even if you are, go with this. Go with it. Allow whatever happens to happen, if weird images, strange feelings, are surfacing in you, just let them be.

Behind all of the surface stuff that's happening and the lower, beneath the surface thing that's happening, at the deepest and widest level, there is the observer, and that's what you're activating here. You are activating your internal observer.

So, you're going to see all the things that are going on inside you. You're going to allow all the things that are going on inside you. You're going to hear and listen to all the things that are going on inside you, and then just let them have their own dialogue, their own conversation.

There may be many voices, so it won't be a dialogue. It'll be a multilogue. So, let that happen. Just allow it to be. Don't question it. Don't shut it off. Don't close it down. Just allow it to be whatever it is.

So, the first part then is acknowledgement, and instead of trying to overcome your resistance to whatever it is you're wanting to make, turn towards it. Instead of wanting it to go away, actually give it permission to be.

Now, with your eyes closed, lie down, close your eyes, relax, turn off the phone, close the doors, tell people you're not available, and make sure you're doing this activation at a time when you won't be disturbed. Come back and play it then if there are people around you or you're listening to this out and about, this is not the time. You need space and you need silence, and you need aloneness to do it.

So, relax in your space. Begin with a breath, a conscious breath, just breathing in and watching your breath go in and breathing out, and watching your breath go out.

Then turning towards that resistance, actually inviting it to come forward, allowing it to be stronger, recognizing that it is part of you. If you want, you might give it a name. You might want to call it, say, Resistant You. You can call it any name you want, or don't bother calling it a name, but see it, feel it. Feel how it feels.

You might want to name it by the energy that arises in you, however it is you're feeling. Maybe there's a colour associated with it. Maybe there's a sound associated with it. Activate your senses internally around this resistance. What does it look like? What does it feel like to you?

Now speak to it, again, internally in your mind's voice. Just acknowledge resistance, and say hello, and you are welcome, and acknowledge that you haven't been treating it well. That maybe you've been ignoring it, or wishing it would go away, or wanting it to dissolve, wanting it to die.

Identify the particular way that you have treated resistance, and then acknowledge that, and assure it that, even though you haven't been open before, you are now. You're here now and you're open.

So, number two is listening. You've acknowledged that the resistance exists, you called forward, listen now to what it has to say.

So, tell your resistance you're interested in its perspective. You want to know now how it thinks and feels. Tell it can trust you now not to cut it off.

Identify its energy, what's going on for it as it speaks to you. Is there anger there, fear, shame, guilt, something else? Name the energy that you're feeling from the resistance.

Ask it to name itself. Ask it to tell you what's going on. What does it care about? What's it afraid of? What's it trying to prevent you from experiencing? Listen without judgment. What's it trying to do for you?

Encourage it to share its logic.

As you listen, look for ways in which resistance is looking out for you, caring for you.

It's not sabotaging you for no reason. It has a motive. It wants you to hold back a bit for a reason. What is that reason?

If you're not getting answers in this part of the process, it's because resistant you is not yet feeling safe enough to express, and that's possibly very logical, particularly if you are the type of person that's squashing resistance and getting on with things, not allowing resistance to get in your way, afraid of resistance, afraid that if you give in to it, nothing will happen.

So, your job here now is to make resistant you feel safe. So, to put aside your own fear of resistance and actually build the strongest feeling of safety for the resistant part of you.

If it feels right, only if you mean it, only if you can truly mean it, you could apologize to resistance for trying to cut it off, for trying to kill it, basically, for going to war with it at any rate.

However, if you're still fearful, if you don't feel sorry, if you're annoyed with resistance for coming up, then don't lie. Don't say you're sorry if you're not sorry. But if you are, that's very powerful.

But what's more powerful is honesty. Truth is always core to creativity.

So, see that part of yourself, the part of yourself that is fearful of resistance, the part of yourself that's annoyed with it, fearful of it, and observe the observer. See how the observer sees all of this.

Now take another step back, observe the observer, and observe the observed.

While you watch, keep encouraging the dialogue. Everything one part says to another, everything they would like to say. Is there another voice, another part who would like to be included in the conversation? Go through the same process there. Open yourself up to listening and to hearing.

So, the third part is in this, already begun, this dialoguing, this speaking of one part to another. Once resistance, the resistant you, feels safe and has expressed, you can then bring attention back to creative view. The part of you that wants to grow, the part of you that has a particular project in mind, a goal that wants to achieve, something you want to succeed at.

Now, what does this expansive part of you think about what resistant part has had to say? Allow the two of them to speak to each other.

Keep a spirit of respectful listening going if you can, but things might get heated. Sometimes they do, and if they do, just step back. You're the observer, watch what's being said.

Give one part the stage and allow it to fully express itself. Then it comes down off the stage and the other part gets up and fully expresses and then comes down.

When somebody is actually expressing, the other part listens.

Have each part want to know more, want to understand better, want to clarify what's going on, and also have them all explain what they're doing, why they want what they want, why that's for the best.

Underneath all the emotions that are in there, is love in each part.

Keep going with this dialogue until you feel that, until the observer can see that is what's happening.

Now, this may take some time, and you may want to bring your free writing notebook into this process. It may be happening just fine for you as you listen, but you may need to do more, in which case, step out when you feel comfortable, look at the transcript from this podcast. Use the transcript as a guide to go again with the process, keeping going until you get to that point where you can clearly see where each part is coming from, and you can clearly see the care and the love that underlies what looks like anger, frustration, annoyance, sabotage, bitterness, whatever; whatever emotion is being expressed. Beneath that, there is fear and love.

So, when the observer is able to feel that love that's underneath, and you know when that's happened, parts will integrate, you'll experience it as an insight. You'll get a sense of relief. You'll get a sense of relaxation, lightness, maybe even a burst of joy.

Keep going with it, letting the dialogue emerge, taking a break as necessary, bringing people back again together to have the discussion, until that time.

That's the fourth part of the process: flow.

When you reach that understanding between creative you and resistant you and the various voices that each of those parts bring, the different parts within the part, if you like, when that understanding arises, observe how it aligns with your overall desires for yourself and your life.

Share the creative intention between the different parts and see how they all contribute to it.

You may find lots of other voices have popped into the conversation along the way, that's not unusual.

Walt Whitman said it best, ‘we are large, we contain multitudes.'

That's all good. Get responses and feedback from all sides until you feel flow rising in you. Once that flow feeling comes, you can begin to end the communication.

So, just ask resistant you one more time if there's anything it needs from creative you and then vice versa. Thank both parts of yourself for being open, despite the fact that there was initial rejection and conflict.

Appreciate the wish of all parts to protect you and do what's best for you, and note how resistant you continued to do that even when you were giving it a really hard time.

Again, if apologies feel appropriate or any other emotion, anything else that you want to offer to either parts of yourself, now is the time to do that. You might want to work out how you'll come together for communication next time because this will happen again and again.

Again, activate the observer to see how all the parts of you work better when they work collaboratively for the best outcome.

Then end the communication in whatever way feels best to all parts. Hugs may be required, maybe not, handshakes, whatever feels appropriate, allow that to happen.

So, that is the finding flow activation. In the process, what is actually happening is that you in this moment are finding flow, and flow is finding you, and often that happens spontaneously. Flow finds you, just rises in you, up it comes. But you can also go to find it and allow it to be by opening up in these ways.

If you are somebody who resists this kind of exercise and thinks, you just want to get on with things, I just invite you to try it once. Just try it and see how it feels, and I'd love to know, I'd love to hear from you. So, when you have tried the finding flow process, and particularly if you're running into any problems or difficulties, please share your experience on social media with the #GoCreative on Instagram or Facebook, and I'll hop in and answer any questions you might have, or I would love to just read about your experiences.

If you found this useful in any way, please do subscribe to the podcast because there's lots more of this kind of thing coming on the podcast, and I'd love if it was of benefit to you. If you would like to leave a review, particularly if some good things happened for you in this, and as always, do submit your creative challenges if you would like them to be included in a future episode. You can write to me at orna@ornaross.com.

Until next time, have a great week and don't forget to go creative.