Stuck in a creativity rut or feeling a little flat at work? Try this simple exercise from How to be Creative by Liz Dean in order to shut out distractions and awaken your senses. It's bound to get your creative ideas flowing and if you're new to mindfulness, then you might find it is an easy way to introduce in-the-moment thinking too.
Walking is something we do every day, often without awareness. Walking with the intention of being mindful of your thoughts, sensations, and the environment can help you to feel calmer and reconnect with your creative self as you pay attention to where you are.
Leading mindfulness educator Dr. Patrizia Collard, author of Journey into Mindfulness (2013), invited me to join her mindful meditation students for a stroll around the park at the top of her yard. We began with a short mediation in Patrizia’s family room before setting out from the back of the house and heading into the park. Walking without a watch or a cell phone, 15 minutes felt like an hour—in fact, after five minutes I decided time was probably up. I studied the bark on a tree, touched it, and felt its graininess. I began to remember nature walks we’d had as children, touching snowdrops in the park, when we were smaller and closer to the earth. In all, I realized I was beginning to feel calmer, and more interested in little details on the walk—the intricate ironwork on a bench, the faint chirrup of a bird—as if my sight and hearing were becoming more acute. On returning to Patrizia’s house, I felt I had experienced a kind of time expansion, a quiet zone in which nothing had felt rushed or urgent.
Try the exercise
Decide where you’d like to walk. Set the intention that your walking will be mindful, and leave your cell phone at home.
Begin to walk by really sensing your feet on the ground as you plant them with each step. Generate the feeling that you are connecting with the earth. How does this feel? Become aware of your body’s movement—your arms swinging gently, the position of your head. What can you see and sense?
Focus on your breathing. In meditation practice, becoming aware of your breathing is a technique that is used to help you be in the moment. If you feel distracted at any point or begin to overthink, simply invite yourself to return to the breath.
After your walk, you might like to write down your impressions in a Creativity Journal or notebook.
Why this works
Mindfulness helps to awaken your senses when repetitive activities may leave you feeling shut down and “flat.” Giving yourself this type of “slow” time feeds the creative self; it also helps to decrease stress and overthinking, allowing the mind to open up to new possibilities.