I just returned from a retreat at The Chi Center in Galisteo, New Mexico where I had the privilege of learning the art of energy healing, Qigong. We gathered together each morning at 7am in the Kiva, an underground chamber Pueblo Indians used for religious rites. There, Master Mingtong Gu, a world-renowned Qigong Master, led us through the foundational elements of Qigong practice.
The practice involves a combination of breathing, guided meditation, and very slow and deliberate movement. Simple poses and movements become great challenges as your body begins to ache and rebel against the fatigue. Even though I am very physically active, as we began the practice, I felt like the Tin Man with soldered joints! It took a couple of days for my mind and body to settle in and begin to release what felt like chunks of concrete in my body.
My stuck, disconnected energy gave way to more fluid movement and less pain as my practice continued and matured. I began to feel energy flowing in my body in ways it had never done previously — a sweet life force that filled me with light, joy, and deep connection within myself as well as to others.
I learned that Qigong is not about releasing emotion or energy; rather, it is about transmuting certain emotions into better states of being and achieving more deeply-connected energy. In particular, I was fascinated to learn that the energy of fear — when transformed — becomes creativity.
The art of Qigong also holds clues for expanding and enhancing our creativity. When you approach a creative project, are you feeling at all like the Tin Man? Have you hit chunks of concrete in your creative flow? Has your creating become stilted, sludgy, and/or stuck?
Is Fear riding shotgun and preventing you from doing your work?
In order to transmute my stuck state to a better creative flow, I use what I call the 4 M’s each day: Meditation, Morning Pages, Movement, and Making Something.
Meditation. Before your Lizard Brain goes into full-on gallop mode, barking that YOU CANNOT MEDITATE, I can offer you some easy suggestions. Start with 5 minutes of simply sitting quietly. Even if all kinds of thoughts pop to the surface, just let them come and notice them. You do not have to stop having thoughts; just don’t try to force them away (the more resistance, the more they persist). There are also myriad options online for free, guided meditations. Try a few of those, and see what you think. Eventually, you can work up to 20 minutes or more each morning. I do a variety of different meditations — some guided, some not. Explore a bit and find your own fit.
Morning Pages, the brainchild of Julia Cameron, are simply 3 pages written in long hand each day (and, as their name suggests, they are done in the morning). They are your private depository of all the crazy-making thoughts you have — a collection of a daily brain dump onto the page. They are wonderful and wicked because they are so effective!!! Getting all of the mumbo jumbo out of your brain — all the whining, rants, fears, frustrations, and celebrations — truly helps to free your mind for creating.
Movement, for me, is generally an hour of physical exercise (swimming, hiking with my golden retriever, Qigong, etc.). I need to get my movement in during the morning hours, or I find the day just runs away (and I do not get this done). Contrary to Morning Pages, you can do your movement any time during the day. Experiment with time of day to see what works best for you.
Making Something is a straightforward as it sounds. Keep some markers, color pencils, paints, and paper handy. Doodle, sketch, color, paint, or play with collage. This can be a 10-minute creative meditation or as long as you like. I find that when I begin my day with even just a few minutes in a state of creative play, the dominoes of the day tend to fall as I intend without so much efforting required on my part.
On the other side of stuck energy lie flow and freedom. On the other side of fear lies creativity. You can become a powerful alchemist within your own body and when facing the blank page, transmuting your darkest moments and pain into creative gold.