Can you proudly tell people you are thriving? Or do you feel powerless to create the life you want? If you sadly identify with the latter, I propose that you start trying a creative activity. Why? Because through engaging with these creative activities, you will be able to connect with your creative power and further propel the change you need in life.
The Magic of Creativity
I believe most of us are searching for the meaning of our existence in the world. We know there is something more to life than clocking in and out of the office and the monthly paycheck. But as we get more used to our mundane daily routines, we forget that we were all creative as kids. We once held the power of creation. Our skills were limited, but our power to create was boundless. That artist child is still inside us, waiting for us to reconnect with them.
In her legendary book The Artist Way, author Julia Cameron argues that “the heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union.” As human beings, we long for connection. We desire to be part of something larger than ourselves. Recovering our ability to create is the first step to reconnecting us with our artist child and reuniting with the world. She assures us that as we reconnect with our creativity, “ many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.”
My story serves as a good testimonial to the magic of creativity.
From Whithering to Thriving
I spent most of my adulthood chasing other people’s dreams, but I never felt alive. I achieved all the milestones I wanted. But deep down, I was dying from the mundane corporate life and its predictable future. I felt empty and disconnected until I started engaging in mind-body awareness practices like lifting and movement.
The courage I gained from lifting further cultivated my confidence to make career changes and pursue other interests that were unfamiliar to me. Particularly, practicing flow movements like Brazilian martial art Capoeria, painting, and writing made me feel most alive because they all shared the same qualities: presence, mystery, and empowerment.
Lost in the Movement Flow of Capoeira
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combined bodyweight strength training, dance-like movement, and music. In Capoeira, there’s a ritual called “roda” (or “circle” in English). In a roda, two people stand in the center of a ring of people who are singing and clapping. These two opponents will start a flow of dance, constantly attacking or dodging each other. Whenever I am in the roda, I need to be in the present moment and stay focused, because one second of distraction might cost two of my front teeth.
Looking straight into the eyes of my opponent as if the whole world has stopped, I can feel my excitement, the warmth of my breath, and the vibration of my fear. I feel completely alone in this world yet intimately connected to myself.
When I am caught under a kick from my opponent, I’m faced with endless ways to escape the attack. But in a millisecond, I will find myself intuitively performing a movement sequence as if an invisible force is guiding my body. Instead of moving “inside” my body, I look at my body moving across the space from outside as if I was part of the cheering crowd. I witness myself creating a mystical flow of movement that is impossible to plan.
Every time the fight ends, I feel empowered. Not only do I know I am capable of performing the movement with finer details, but I also know that my body can express its freedom at its own will.
Painting and Writing
The same presence, mystery, and empowerment can be observed in more static creativity like painting and writing as well.
In painting, I need to be fully present because if I press the brush a little harder, I change the thickness of the line, rendering a different texture for the object I paint. When I move my brush across the paper, I can never fully imagine what the final picture will look like. The lines and circles might not make sense at first, and the idea of giving up springs from time to time. “This looks so distasteful. I should just stop here. It’s not going anywhere.”
But as I add layers over layers of colors, I start to see the whales jumping out from the water in a Mexican sunset appearing in the corner of the paper. Oh! the circle that does not make sense is the pond in the forest in my dream. It’s a mystical process that leads me closer and closer to my mental landscape. And boom! there is the full image splendid with color, light, and hope on the blank paper I once want to toss away. I’m empowered by my trust in the process and mystery.
The same mystery and empowerment can be felt in writing. When I type in the first word on the keyboard, I’m so confident about what I want to say. I’m so sure about my emotions and my arguments. But as I open myself up to my vulnerability, I uncover my deep fears and my secret desires— a new storyline flowing out from my unconscious mind. I create a narrative about who I am, construct a new reality of how the world is, and transform myself into something I could not have become if it were not for the process of creation.
These discoveries can not be planned; They can only happen through me being present and honest with myself. I witness my creations evolve as if they have their life form, and I am merely a medium that translates them into this world.
Reconnect with Your Creative Power Through Curiosity
Through being present and surrendering myself to mystery, I’m able to witness the power of creation that is always within me. This further gives me the courage to face my shadows and guides me through difficult life situations with my inner wisdom.
Ways to reconnect with our creative power can look very different for each person. For me, it’s through Capoeira, painting, and writing. For you, it could be running, playing guitar, or making pottery. It’s ok to not know what are the things that make you most alive. But you can pay attention to what energy or emotion is being evoked in different activities.
Do you feel more energized playing instruments than typing words onto the computer? Try leaning into music more. Do you feel inspired by painting but feel bored with crafting? Experiment with different painting mediums more. Follow your curiosity and lean into what makes you feel more alive. One day, you will surprisingly find yourself exemplifying what it means to be a creative person that lives a thriving life.