How to Unleash Creativity as a Leader
Helen Keller (author, political activist, differently abled with her eyes and ears) visited her friend Martha Graham (avant-garde American choreographer) several times over her life. Keller had never danced and even as a little girl, had never had the chance to jump and play. In fact, when Graham tried to explain their performance to Keller, she replied, “What is jumping?”
So Graham called the famous Merce Cunningham (who was part of her troupe) over and placed Keller’s hands on his body. As he leapt from one position to the next, her hands followed on his body. Her face lit up.
“Oh, how wonderful. How like the thought!” she said. “How like the mind it is.”
And there began Keller’s dance classes, which she claims, inspired her writing.
Have you ever spent a whole day sitting down, only to find yourself energy-drained, as compared to a day spent outdoors, engaged in the fun activity?
Humans were not created to fit into sedentary moulds. The body holds power to animate your mind and tap into your creative spirit. Research indicates that inactivity leads to an incessant stream of compulsive thinking, creating energy blocks both in body and mind. Energy stagnation translates to a brick-wall in the brain – meaning, our thoughts don’t flow!
A common-sense understanding of this arises from the simple fact that vegetating on the couch decreases blood-circulation in the body, and naturally, the brain also receives lesser blood supply. This leads to stupor. Creativity can go to sleep.
Creative people have claimed for centuries that taking a walk or engaging in rhythmic movement can undo knots in their thinking and spur those half-formed ideas, staying stubbornly out of reach when sitting. Henry David Thoreau wrote an entire manifesto on the rewards of walking and the evils of sitting! He says that gestures induce imagery and facilitate language. And interestingly, Nabokov turned to chase butterflies!
The body is a portal to the formless dimension within. Being more present in your body through movement- helps you translate emotions and process thoughts. A Stanford study on 200 adults, some sedentary, and some with bursts of activity in between their creative process – proved beyond doubt that body movement significantly feeds creativity. It creates new connections between brain cells.
Robert and Michelle Root-Bernstein, authors of SPARKS OF GENIUS: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People, have led scientific research to prove that movement, gesture and musculature affect
Other perks such as enhanced mood and motivation were observed too.
Movement releases you from the hamster-wheel of repetitive thought. It creates space in the mind for new perspectives to flow in, connect experiences we’ve had and synthesize new things. It activates the body’s energy channels and increases vitality. We step more fully into the experience of life, enmeshing awareness and consciousness to build better pathways of self-expression. There is a cross-pollination of mind, body and spirit, removing the contraction within each.
MOVEMENT HELPS US FIND OUR SPIRIT. IT HELPS US ENTER THE NOOKS AND CRANNIES IN THE VAST CAVES OF OUR MIND, AND BREAK OPEN OUR EMOTIONAL ARMOUR. IT RIPS AWAY THE LAYERS OF LIMITING STORIES WE HAVE SPUN AROUND OURSELVES, DISCHARGE UNDIGESTED FEELINGS AND HEAL TRAUMATIC MEMORY. IT BALANCES BODY, HEART AND MIND. IT WORKS UPON THE PRINCIPLES OF OUR EMBODIED ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE – OF WHICH SCIENCE IS JUST GAINING UNDERSTANDING.
MOVEMENT GIVES YOU AN INSTANT ENERGY MAKEOVER. Try it now! Stretch your body – raise your hands up; bend forward, backward and to the sides; roll your head and ease your neck and shoulders; saunter around a bit and come back! Doesn’t it refresh you?!
Creativity is not for the geniuses alone. Each of us has our unique way of viewing and cradling the world, and that truthfully and wholly expressed without filters, is creativity. Creativity is not only about producing works of art. It can be about transforming culture, solving societal problems, building joyful and healthy lives- in families and communities. It can be about morphing your every-day work into formulations of brilliance.
Creativity is cultivated from ‘presence’ rather than ‘productivity’. One way to develop presence is by tuning into nature. And nature doesn’t just exist around you, but also within you. You are a product of nature too. And movement melds you with your nature. A dance between stillness and movement is your essence. And yes, stillness, soulful and deep, spring creativity too. But that’s a post for another day.
Hiro Boga rightly says, “Creativity deferred or denied morphs into guilt, shame, rage, depression, anxiety, envy and jealousy, among other things. We are made to create. When we aren’t creating, we feel powerless; and, in our powerlessness, we become destructive — to ourselves and others.”