from Meditations, by Shakti Gawain.

Excerpted from Meditations by Shakti Gawain. Copyright © 2002 by Shakti Gawain. All rights reserved.

Expressing Your Creativity

Many people think theyíre not creative. I hear this all the time in my workshops; people say to me, "Iím not creative." I donít believe it. Iíve found from working with many people that, after we get through our limited ideas and our blocks and our fears, we are all creative beings. I donít know what more proof we need of our creativity than to look at our lives and realize that, on a metaphysical level, we have created them. Granted, theyíre not perfect, but they are nevertheless a powerful manifestation of our creativity. We need to acknowledge how incredible our lives really are and therefore how incredible we are. We have all created an enormous amount of powerful, interesting, even amazing experiences and people in our lives. And those are all mirrors of our creativity.

We create our own reality every moment, whether or not weíre conscious of it. If weíre not conscious, we create it out of habit and old patterns. As we become more and more conscious, we are more able to create what we truly desire.

I find that the idea that we are not creative usually comes from some type of early programming or conditioning that weíve received. Somebody along the way told us we werenít creative, and we believed it. Or maybe we got so much criticism or disapproval or not enough encouragement and support to express our natural creativity, that we came to the conclusion that we werenít creative.

Many people tend to equate creativity with only certain types of expression. We all know that art or dance or music are creative, for example, but we donít necessarily think that running a business is creative, or running a home is creative, or that being a parent is creative. And yet, when you think about it, what could be more creative than raising children? That is the ultimate creative act. To create another human being and to learn how to support that human being in expressing his or her creativity is probably the ultimate challenge. Cooking is creative. Many of our recreational activities, and even the little things that we do all the time, are very creative. But because they come easily to us and theyíre natural, we donít usually think of them as being creative.

Start to think about the things you do that are enjoyable, that come naturally and easily to you, and see the creative aspect of those expressions, see how those are a truly important expression of your being. Try taking some risks. Do some new and different things that you find creative. Iíve noticed that a lot of people have the concept that theyíre too old to try something new, especially something "creative" -- if they didnít start it when they were children or very young people, they figure itís too late to do it now.

I always encourage people to fantasize, to think about creative things they would like to do. See if there is something you can do, a step you can take in the direction of those fantasies, even if they seem a bit far-fetched. Itís never too late.

We know that each of us is in essence a creative being, a spiritual being who comes into a physical form. That physical form is our first act of creation. We create a body to express our spirit. I know that a lot of us donít like our bodies and donít think theyíre the best creation we could have made, but our bodies, in fact, are in a constant state of creative change. As we are changing internally, our bodies, as the expression of our spirit, are also changing. So the more you come to know, acknowledge, and express your creative spirit, the more your spirit shows in your primary creative project -- your body.

Start to look at your body as your creation and see how it expresses your spirit. Observe the ways that you block yourself from expressing your spirit and see how that is reflected in your body. As you remove these blocks to your creative expression, your body will reflect that transformation.

As adults, the major block to our creativity is our inner critic, that part of us that internally criticizes what we do. We have standards of perfection incorporated from the world around us, ways that we think things should be done. We have a critic within who criticizes us when we are not doing things the way the critic feel they should be done. For most of us, this inner critic is what stops us from taking the kinds of risks that need to be taken to be creative.

Creativity requires experimentation. The fundamental principle of creativity is that you do something, you express something, you try something. And you must be willing to allow things to be expressed that are not particularly wonderful or perfect or just the way you think they should be expressed. You have to let the expressions flow. People who are creative are willing to make mistakes. Almost all successful persons say that they have had more failures than theyíve had successes. They have tried many things that have not always worked for them. Some have been very disappointing, but they have continued to take risks and try again.

What stops us from being successful is the critic inside that says, "Youíre not very smart," "Youíre not very talented," "You donít know how to do this right," "Youíre not as good as so-and-so," "Youíre not as good as you should be," or "Look at what you did, thatís not any good," "Thatís ridiculous," "Thatís inadequate." We all have, to some degree, that self-criticism. Those of us who have allowed our creativity to flow in our lives have managed in one way or another to set our critic aside long enough to let the energy come through spontaneously.

Dealing with the inner critic is difficult; thereís no simple solution. The first step is to recognize your internal critic, to begin to notice what it says to you, and to begin to get in touch with where the voice comes from. For most of us, it began very early in our lives when we were children, when we received criticism from our parents or our siblings or our teachers or those around us, who said, "You donít do that well enough," or "You didnít do that right," or "Youíre a bad boy or girl," and weíve incorporated that criticism. Beginning to become aware of your inner critic, to acknowledge it and notice where it comes from, can start to free you from automatically believing it.

It doesnít seem to help very much simply to try to make the critic shut up. The critic is a strong voice inside us. The key is to begin to notice it and to think to yourself, "Now, do I need to believe this?" "Is this really true?" "Do I have to let this run my life?" "Do I have to let this stop me?"

By asking these questions you can eventually get to a place where you listen to the critic, you acknowledge what it has to say, and then you go ahead and do what you want to do anyway. You could say to yourself "Okay, critic, thank you for sharing your point of view. Now Iím going to go ahead and do this, and even if it isnít perfect, Iím going to do it anyway because I think itíll be fun, or because I want to try something new and Iím willing to let myself be like a child. Iím willing to play, try something and risk and experiment and learn in the process. If I donít do it perfectly, fine; Iíll do it again and Iíll do it better next time. Or Iíll forget it and do something else. It doesnít really matter."

Creativity requires play. It requires fun. It requires a sense of adventure. Learn to look at things a little more lightly and not take them so seriously. If we take ourselves too seriously, we canít have that adventurousness that allows us to explore in new places.

One good way to deal with the critic and begin to free more of your creativity is by using some clearing processes. If you have a journal or if you want to start a journal, try writing your creative voice and then writing any blocks or inhibitions you have about that creative voice. Or try writing the voice of your critic. Write it all down so you can see objectively what it is that stops you, what concepts of yourself you have that stop you from being able to be creative.

Here is a meditation to help you get in touch with your creativity. In this meditation, let your imagination open, and trust whatever comes to you. Enjoy it.

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes.

Relax... Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, relax your body... Take another deep breath, and as you exhale, relax your body more deeply... Take another deep breath, and as you exhale, relax your body completely... Feel the energy ?owing freely through your body as you breathe...

As you inhale, imagine that youíre breathing in the life force of the universe. Imagine it coming into every cell of your body... As you exhale, release all the old limitations, fears, and doubt that you no longer need. Every time you exhale, you release the old and make room for the new... And as you inhale, you bring in fresh, creative energy...

Take another deep breath, and as you exhale, relax your mind... Imagine that all your old, limited ideas about yourself are floating away. Imagine that all your old conditioning and programming about who you are and who you arenít, about what you can do and what you canít do, are all dissolving and floating away. You are an unlimited being, and you are now open to new ideas, new feelings, and new inspirations...

Take another deep breath, and as you exhale, allow your awareness to move into a deep place inside of you... With each breath imagine going deeper and deeper, until you come to rest in a quiet place inside...

Now imagine that you are walking down a beautiful path toward your inner sanctuary... As you walk down the path toward your sanctuary, you are feeling very open and alive, almost like a new person, ready to have new experiences and new adventures, and to discover something new about yourself...

Enter your sanctuary and take a few moments to experience being there... Notice whatís in your sanctuary, how it looks, how it feels. You may find thereís something different about it today, or it may be the same as usual. . . . Allow yourself to feel the peace and nurturing and safety of being in your sanctuary... Find a place to sit down and be comfortable...

Today weíre going to invite your creative being, the most creative part of yourself, to come into your sanctuary with you. Look toward the entrance of your sanctuary and begin to sense or visualize your creative being coming down the path... This is some part of you that is very creative. It may be a part that youíve been in touch with before, or it may be some part of you that youíve never seen or experienced before. Just trust whatever comes to you in your imagination now...

As this creative being comes into your sanctuary, begin to see or sense who it is, what it looks like... It could be a person, a man or woman, an animal, a color or shape, or anything that comes to your mind... Notice the details about your creative being. Let yourself be open to its appearing in whatever way it wishes...

Now your creative being comes toward you and you make contact with each other... Allow yourself to feel the energy of this creative being... Ask the being what message it has for you or what it wants to tell you or communicate to you, whether in words or in any other way... Ask your creative being what it most wants to do, how it wants to express itself in your life... Also ask your creative being how it already expresses itself in your life... Ask if thereís anything it would like to do with you right now, and go ahead and be together in whatever way feels good or right...

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