I used to wonder if I was special. I wondered if maybe I was the only one who pondered the infinite nature of our universe and wondered how my squishy, small body ended up where it is.
As a child, I would look around my bedroom at night, genuinely confused about the existence of reality. So I did what all children do - I asked a shit-ton of questions. Many times I would purposefully ask contradicting questions just to see how people answered them. Once, my Theology (falsely labeled religion class in Catholic school) teacher told me that I was “an angry person.” My guess is that she didn’t like how she couldn’t answer my questions.
In all honesty, I really was angry. There are pitfalls to having a curious mind. I desperately wanted to know the meaning of life. I clawed for the answer to why this is right and that is wrong. When I was young, I trampled upon anyone whose ideas of the world felt threatening to me or seemed to confine my infinite potential in any way. As I grew older, I discovered so much hypocrisy in the world, and while this was somewhat thrilling, it genuinely pissed me off.
Soon I realized that my quest for knowledge was actually contributing to my suffering. Hypocrisy made me so angry, but as I was trying to integrate information from multiple sources, I became more and more confused about my own identity. My incessant questioning led to emotional overwhelm, and my obsession with intellectual analysis left me unable to process my own experiences. I found myself feeling paralyzed with fear and anxiety. But something shifted, and I learned how to look at hypocrisy through a new lens. I learned about the nature of paradox, and I realized that everything I wanted to know was already somewhere inside me. I learned to loosen my stronghold on curiosity, and I started using creativity to help me find the answers I was seeking.
If you ever catch yourself saying, "Oh, I'm just not creative," then you are wrong - simple as that.
When we create something, we are using our energy to form an idea or a concept, and then we are turning that idea into a tangible reality. From where I’m standing, human creativity is a fact of nature. Humans have evolved into who we are today because of the creative actions of our ancestors. The discovery of fire and agriculture, the invention of the wheel and electricity, modern medicine, air travel - the people who discovered these revolutions were not plagued by the thought "I am not creative." Instead, they accepted that the act of creating is the act of being human. Our brains and processing centers have a plastic quality, which describes how we can actively rewire our neural connections through awareness and choice. Whether you are conscious of it or not, you are creative, and you are wildly intelligent.
We were all born with the same natural impulse to explore, discover, and consume the wonders of this world. Creative energy is the same vital energy that is pumping blood through your veins and oxygen into your heart, belly, and brain. There is no level of genius that is beyond your reach, but this amount of potential can sometimes be too much to bear. Just take a look into the eyes of any newborn baby - they look both incredibly terrified and astounded by the immensity that is human life. In order to become a functioning human adult, children must learn how to control and contain the boundless nature of our bodies and minds. In doing so, we ultimately unlearn how to connect to the childlike wisdom and natural creativity with which we were born.
Modern society teaches us that intellectual pursuits and quantitative curiosities are more valuable than the subjectivity of creative endeavors. This paradigm is incredibly limiting and even more enraging when children are taught from a young age that some people are "bad" at drawing, singing, and dancing. If that doesn't get under your skin, then look at the social constructs that profit from us being disconnected to our creative intelligence. Turns out, it can be quite lucrative for a particular institution (religious, educational, or commercial) to hypnotize a whole group of people with the notion that the answer to their questions must be attained externally while often bearing a hefty price tag. Have I hit a nerve? Because when I contemplate the sea of oppression that stifles individual creative expression and limits the amount of social harmony that we could experience otherwise, my feelings of being pissed off only magnify.
Okay, let me take a breath.
So what do we do when our curiosity leads us to anger and resentment?
Because these are two of the most potent emotions known to humans. They can either be contained as negative energy that ruminates and spoils, or our feelings of anger can be transformed and expelled outward as an intentional act of change. We must accept that our role as human individuals is to express ourselves creatively.
Embracing your creativity is not just an opportunity, but a responsibility.
For me, the creative process has proven to be the most powerful method of healing and transformation, empowering me to feel in control of my own life and purposeful in the world. After unlearning my childlike wisdom, it feels like I have been collecting puzzle pieces, not knowing how or if they would ever fit back together. But when I learned how to follow my curiosity, transform my pissed-off feelings, and cultivate my creative intelligence, my life began to unfold in the most magical ways. I overcame a severe food intolerance using Yoga and meditation. I pulled myself back from the edges of depression and compulsive, self-destructing behaviors. I healed past relationships, and I embraced parts of myself that I previously hated. But mostly, I discovered an infinite source of wisdom within my own heart.
There is this deep, inner knowing that resides within your wisdom body, a layer of your being called the Vijnanamaya Kosha in Yoga. The ultimate goal in my work is to help people tap into this part of themselves, because we all have the ability to become the composers of our own reality.
We are all squirming with creative intelligence. It is inside of us, just waiting to be put to work. So when you feel powerless, overwhelmed with emotion or anxiety, or disconnected from the truth of who you really are, here are a two simple steps to begin your creative process…
Step 1: Evaluate your current state
What are you presently feeling, thinking, doing?
What resources and tools do you have?
How can you express this in a way that you enjoy?
Step 2: Move towards your desired state
What do you want to feel instead?
How can you shift your experience?
What can you release and what can you create, right now, to start moving in that direction?
For example, maybe you want to lose weight, so you clean out your fridge and organize your pantry with healthy options. Maybe you want to clear your head and get organized, so you rearrange the furniture in your living room or clean off your desk. Maybe you need to express something that feels silly to say out loud, so you write a song or a poem. Sometimes, we know that we want to change something, but it might take much longer to figure out how.
People like to talk about finding themselves, but I've never found myself. Instead, I have found a wealth of traditions reminding me that I never lost myself in the first place. Because every day it feels like I am trying not to lose my shit. Every day, trying not to lose myself. But when you are trying not to do something, it usually ends up happening anyway.
I went through a period of time where a wave of depression moved into my life. There were some days where I didn't want to do anything or go anywhere, and I found myself spontaneously crying. My dreams were equally disturbing, and violent images were popping into my mind throughout the day.
After expressing these things to my loved ones, and evaluating that I had some level of control over it (which is not the case for everyone), I decided to use my creativity. I developed specific visualization practices for when these violent images came into my mind. This exercise helped me feel strong, resilient, and powerful, which were the exact opposite qualities that I was feeling at the time. I began eating certain foods that included high amounts of probiotics, as well as raspberry and turmeric smoothies for their ability to increase neurogenesis. These foods made me feel awake, energized, and healthy, qualities that I was having trouble cultivating on my own. I found creative ways, other than making physical artwork, to shift my experience towards a more positive and enjoyable one.
The creative process is incredibly healing, and it always comes back to remembering that you never lost yourself, and you never can lose yourself. The solution to your problems does not reside somewhere outside of you, it lies within.
Because you were designed to create.
So what are you making?