Creativity and Well-being

Apparently next week is London Creativity and Well-being week!

I have only just heard of this though it is in its 5th year, but I love the idea of it, and it is such a fascinating topic in terms of how being surrounded by art or music makes us feel, and also in terms of how actually participating in creativity affects us on different levels.

As the LHAF states on its website; “Participation in the arts and access to a range of arts opportunities can dramatically improve health outcomes and increase well-being. Supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build well-being.”

There is more information here: and the LHAF is also all about making Hospitals, Clinics and other healing spaces beautiful because of the well-being benefits– which is also something at the core of The Little Escape (hmm we really need some more photos of the clinic- but come and see!)

And another excellent looking event I just found out about that runs in a few weeks in sunny South London!

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But meanwhile I thought I’d write something about the links from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective….

The Liver channel is the one most directly associated with creative energy and drive, and it is also very much associated with anger and frustration when the Liver energy is not allowed to move smoothly – and this is where problems may become apparent.

The Kidneys are also related- and especially because the Kidneys in TCM are associated with Fear, and Creativity is about allowing yourself to make mistakes – which many of us are afraid of. So for some it is about strengthening that Kidney energy and taking some chances!

In my experience as a practitioner, people who’s creativity is being stifled for one reason or another (space/ time/ children/ work etc etc) can have major issues with mood swings, depression, inappropriate anger or headaches.

Sometimes (while acupuncture is definitely a big help with moving that stagnant Liver Qi!) the solution is to also find a way to weave more creativity into their life. If it is an artist who is used to doing huge expressionist canvasses, then yes we may have to think laterally about how to satisfy their creative urges, but there are ways! My mother is an (amazing) artist (you may have seen her work at the clinic!), so I also know first hand how she struggles when she can’t get enough studio time!

In these cases I also suggest people incorporate stretches that work on the Liver meridian: side stretches and yoga twists can be especially useful.

However, stress manifests in different ways for different people (surprise surprise!) and Liver Qi Stagnation can affect all systems of the body depending on an individual’s “type” and other factors- creating a Pattern of Disharmony which can be quite complex, especially if imbalances have been going on for a while…

So- before I totally digress- back to using Creativity for Wellbeing…!

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For some people, it is about using the Lungs to open the chest and Heart and move the Liver too- and it may be that they haven’t particularly been stifled creatively but their voice or truth has been suppressed in some way- and here is where singing can come into play. Especially people who notice that stressor frustration can trigger asthma or coughing, skin problems, or who get that sensation of a lump stuck in their throat. Writing is also great of course for expressing emotions but doesn’t have the same kind of knock-on effect on your physical wellbeing. In fact so many of us nowadays are so often hunched over a screen or paper that we end up weakening the chest and lungs with poor posture- so even more reason to sing and open the chest and diaphragm!

Choirs are fantastic, and have fascinating benefits that have been researched a documented (see here, here & here)- but singing in the shower or car definitely still counts- I have even been know to “prescribe” private room Karaoke 😉 – it feels amazing!!

For more “Earth Types” who may have a tendency to weight problems, IBS or digestive issues, it might be most appropriate to channel creativity into cooking or gardening- both very grounding and creative activities!

For some, possibly those “Heart Types” who struggle with a “Monkey Mind” and inability to relax- incorporating a creative element to support mindfulness is really helpful- hence the popularity of Colouring books, Embroidery and knitting. Also Mindfulness has been shown to improve creativity (check out James’s class at The Little Escape, and Lis’s Sunday Meditation sessions)

I often incorporate this sort of “Lifestyle” advice in Acupuncture sessions alongside other things, but it all comes down to what works for the individual, and getting to know yourself better.

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So- take some time this week to *really* enjoy and embrace some art, music, writing, workshops, or just getting inspired to get back into doing a little of what you love. Think about how it makes you feel, which colours or shapes or themes affect you most, and if it makes you feel good- do more of it!

Lilja x

And lets finish with a some inspiring quotes, because everyone loves a good quote, and being succinct is definitely not one of my strong points 😉

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut

“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” Matt Groening

“Cut the arts? Then what are we fighting for?” Winston Churchill

Some Thoughts for the Solstice

There are many associations we humans have with the sun. The annual summer solstice that falls in June is an opportunity to honour this great star and be grateful for its sunny splendour. This year the solstice falls on Monday 20th June. The solstice corresponds with the tilt of the earth’s axis being most inclined towards the sun – hence the longest day of sunlight.

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Surya Namaskar is a well known sequence in yoga. It is in essence a bowing to the powerful sun – surya meaning sun and namaskar stemming from ‘namas’ meaning to bow or adore. This reveals the deeper wisdom of yoga and how we cultivate respect for nature through a regular practise.

From a subtle anatomy perspective, the sun feeds our manipura chakra, otherwise referred to as our solar plexus chakra. This is located about a hand’s width up from your navel. The colour yellow is associated with this chakra and the element of fire. So consider golden rays of sunlight perfusing your solar plexus and nourishing your vital force.

The sun is a constant in our lives. It rises and sets no matter what the circumstances. It radiates warmth and light. It provides life to plants through photosynthesis who all grow towards its radiance. Life giving, light bringing, energising sun.

The sun symbolises power, growth, health, passion and the cycle of life with its daily rise and set.

Oh sun, we salute you this summer solstice and thank you for your brilliance.

 

Come and have a one to one with Ciara Roberts at The Little Escape and learn more about the beauty, wisdom and transformational capacity of yoga.