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How The Emerging Practice Of Mindful Creativity Is Setting Out A Pathway For Self-care In 2022

Mindful Creativity, a practice that combines aspects of mindfulness with creative tasks, is emerging as a way for New Zealanders to find a sense of calm in an ongoing sea of challenge and uncertainty, states Kāpiti Coast artist and creative practitioner Jordan Harcourt-Hughes. ‘The summer break and the optimism that comes with the new year is a positive thing for many of us’, says Jordan. ‘It’s a great time to integrate new practices that help us stay grounded, positive and relaxed as we make our way into 2022, a year that will certainly keep us guessing.’

Jordan offers five Mindful Creativity tips to help New Zealanders to thrive in the year ahead:

1. Focusing on simple creative task can bring your attention and awareness back from the global stage to your own sense of self

It’s often hard to ‘dial down’ the worrisome conversations that go on around us without stopping. For the last few years, most of us have been, one way or another, on alert and plugged into pandemic numbers, the national dialogue and the politics of the day. This can be more taxing on us than we might even realise. It doesn’t matter what creative task you choose; try something visual such as sketching, doodling, taking photos. Or get out your pen and try a writing-based activity such as journaling or trying your hand at writing short stories. Or find something more active such as cooking, gardening, building, making craft. Put on some music, close the doors and focus on the task at hand. If you can grab five minutes, great; if you can take an hour even better. If you can do it a few times a week, then perfect. Engaging in simple creative activities enable our minds to rest and also to wander – this can be both restorative and nourishing, and let us do some ‘mental processing’ in the background, which can also help to reduce our sense of overwhelm.

2. Creative play can be a helpful reminder that there’s joy to be found in the doing, not the outcome. 

Outcomes in 2022 are going to be iffy, hard to predict and possibly not always the ones we would like. Mindful Creativity builds our ‘enjoying the moment’ muscles. They key thing to remember is that mindful creativity is about enjoying the process of creative work. It’s not focused on the outcome, such as creating something new or beautiful. It’s not about creating something for anyone else. Rather, it’s about creating a space for us to enjoy the process of creativity itself, and enjoy the benefits of what happens when we engage with creative work. These benefits can include a deeper state of relaxation, and a feeling of joy that comes from the simple act of play. And if we can find ways to enjoy, notice or find meaning in the journey, one moment at a time, we feel less pressured to control the outcome or to determine the final destination.

3. Creativity can ‘wake up the stuff within us’, and return us from a sense of ongoing bewilderment to a sense of purpose.

Creative work gets all kinds of neurons firing. And that applies to everyone. We don’t need to be an artist. We don’t even need to think of ourselves as being creative. Creativity is part of our inherent human DNA – and it allows us to withdraw slowly from of our logical, rational ‘thinking’ brain. As we write, doodle, bake or work our magic in the garden, to ‘melt’ into a slower, more restive, meditative, state. In this state we’re better able to tap into the knowledge we have inside of us, and to retrieve the nuggets of insight, awareness, wisdom and self-understanding that we’ve accumulated over time – but which perhaps have not yet fully registered in our awareness.

4. Mindful Creativity can help us feel more optimistic and ready to face the future.

Tina Seelig, author of the book inGENIUS: says, creativity produces ways of thinking that are focused on what’s possible rather than what is. “With enhanced creativity, instead of problems we see potential, instead of obstacles we see opportunities, and instead of challenges we see a chance to create solutions.’ Combining creativity with active mindfulness, such as breath work, journaling, gratitude practice and being present in the moment, can then help us to then connect that sense of optimism to our own lives and what’s meaningful to us. It creates the mental space to ready ourselves for the days and weeks ahead and forge a path that’s considerate of our own needs.

5. Mindful Creativity is a great antidote to ‘busy-ness’.

Our periods of Covid lockdown actually did one helpful thing - without the ability to race around being exceptionally busy, we had extra time for reflection. The result? Things like The Great Resignation are occurring, as people decide how to live a more meaningful and purposeful life. More time for reflection, on a more regular basis, may mean that we don’t need another lock-down to benefit from having more time with our own thoughts. Simple creative work can leave us time to dream, imagine, think about nothing or everything, and gain back a sense of wonder. To dip into our imagination and start the process of thinking, ‘What if…?’

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