Creativity and Mindfulness

Engaging with and focusing on the present moment can be difficult. If you’re like me, your mind tends to wander. Maybe anxiety takes over, and before you know it, you’re racing down a million different directions all at once, and your mind feels like it’s stretched so far, you’re about to lose yourself in the universe.

So what can we do to better connect with the present moment every day? I have found one of the best ways to get out of your head and engage the present moment is to tap into your creativity. I believe we have two very important different spheres we use for understanding the world: head space and creative space. We use our brain to think and reason and process, and that’s crucial to wholeness. But so is accessing the creative space: play, emotion, imagination. When they work together, we achieve a sense of wholeness we don’t have when we get caught up in just our creative space or our head space.

Our head can help us process the past and prepare for the future, but, especially if you have anxiety, it has a hard time focusing on the present. I believe that can be re-trained, and an excellent way to help it along is to use the creative space that already knows how to access and enjoy the present moment. Allow that creative space to teach your head space a new focus for its thoughts.

For example, when I’m drawing or coloring or etching or writing or dancing, I don’t have time for anything but the present moment. But more than just creating a distraction, these activities draw me to be fully present, not less so. Instead of avoiding life, I choose to enjoy it and seize the moment, even if that means just doodling or coloring in a sheet printed from online. Maybe for you it means making up dance moves to your favorite song, practicing yoga or exercising, painting, gardening, or any of a number of activities that draw you fully into the present and keep your body, mind, and emotions engaged.

Most importantly, the creative activity you choose does not have to be something you are good at. It just needs to be something you can enjoy and feel relaxed and happy doing. It could be anything from writing a novel to doodling in a notebook to cleaning to origami, playing the piano, building with Legos, or tug-of-war with the dog.

These activities should not be confused with ones you may use to distract yourself. I often use YouTube to distract myself, but in focusing on a hobby or passion or just something that draws on my creative side and which I find fun, I not only engage the present moment but also engage with myself. It’s as if a fresh vein opens up leading straight to your soul—to who you are when anxiety and fear are not directing the show.

Challenge!: Choose one activity you enjoy doing, and choose to do it for at least 15 minutes every day this week. Make sure the activity is one where you feel fully engaged, as well as connected to yourself. The activity should help you re-connect to what is important, not distract you from your fears. Remember, the activity is not something you need to be good at and can be anything that helps you connect to the present and to yourself. Plus, it should be fun!

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