Saturday, July 24, 2021

Breathing is an Art Form

 I'll start this post by letting my creativity workshop group know that I realize I forgot to do the "What is it?" exercise I had in mind, so we'll start with that when we meet next month! 

As a creative exercise in between now and then, I invite you to try drawing the negative space. This is an approach that artists use  - they draw the part that isn't there! Even if drawing isn't your creative realm, it can be a valuable exercise for stimulating the imagination, seeing beyond the obvious, and loosening the constraints of perfectionism. 

Try it with something that has simple lines and shape, like this jar. Just start sketching in the space around the jar....

Our class this month focused on identifying the blockages that arose for us as we tried to move forward with creative pursuits. Our yoga practices focused on reinvigorating our voices - literal and figurative voices - with confidence and authenticity, through physical movement, breath, and chant.

I think we tend to think that famous creative people are different from us - that they don't experience the same obstacles we do. So I was blown away by this quote from Georgia O'Keefe. Turns out that she experienced having her voice shut down in a variety of ways, but ultimately used that frustration to fuel the fire of her authentic artistic voice:

"I found myself saying to myself...I can't live where I want to...I can't go where I want to...I can't do what I want to. I can't even say what I wanted to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to...that seemed to be the only thing I could do that didn't concern anybody but myself."                                                                                                     ~Georgia O'Keefe

With regard to ways of dealing with barriers that arose, a wealth of helpful insight and wisdom was shared by students. Here are just two examples, with thanks to all participants for their courage and honesty in sharing their experiences and learnings:.

"Breathing is an art form. Give yourself the time and space for what you need." 

"This pandemic has caused me to realize that I need to redesign a whole new way of living, which reminded me that life itself is a creative process."

Here's a list of the common obstacles to creativity that we identified. Feel free to add your own!

  • Time (lack of)
  • Energy (lack of)
  • Difficulty balancing responsibilities with creative pursuits
  • Too many good ideas! In ability to focus in on one thing.
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of being silenced
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of failure
  • Perfectionism
  • Forgetting that everything we do can be a creative endeavor!
  • The tyranny of "should" and "ought to"
  • Getting started

And some of our practices to move past, through, over, under and around those obstacles!

  • Find even just a little bit of quiet time to just let things be
  • Try mind quieting techniques like meditation and focusing on the breath
  • Distract yourself - do something else for a while
  • Do what you're afraid to do (like getting feedback! Like sitting down at the desk or easel!)
  • Do something creative that has nothing to do with your primary creative goals. Try a new recipe, dance, draw if you write, write if you draw, rearrange the pillows!
  • Give yourself credit for being creative with the small things of daily life
It helps to remember that creativity doesn't have to be BIG and that sometimes it's okay (and necessary) not to be creative at all! I'll end with this quote that speaks to just that:

"One must also accept that one has "uncreative" moments. The more honestly one can accept that, the quicker these moments will pass." ~ Etty Hillesum

So, to reiterate the wisdom of one of our participants: Breathing is an art form. Give yourself the space you need.


  1. Drawing the 'negative' space - or even just facing the negativity full on, are fascinating concepts. Thank you.

    1. It's a cool concept and easier than I thought!

  2. I related to your description of how old fears of being silenced could hold you back - even though those fears are not appropriate for the person you have become. My fears centered around being emotionally or physically vulnerable. Here's how I accepted that it was time to let those fears go.

    Fear of my vulnerability had been in the driver’s seat all along. It was way past time to let go of choices based on that fear for a very simple reason: Fear creates a desire to control (whether outcomes or approval). Such control is illusionary and necessarily results in an inability to live in the present moment. As my fortune cookie once stated, "Fear is interest on a debt you may no longer owe."

  3. There is so much wisdom in what you shared! I'm glad you've been able to have these insights and make changes for yourself. That last quote is wonderful.


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