The Health Benefits of Creativity

I truly love to having the opportunity to create.  I love writing, singing, playing music and listening to music, and painting.  I am not an artist, but I believe that most of us celebrate and participate in various types of artistic pursuits for a number of reasons.

As a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, I have been influenced by those in my field who espouse time to be in the right brain – the part of our brain that lets us be in the now. Perhaps you are familiar with Eckhart Tolle and his The Power of Now, or Jon Kabat Zinn and his Full Catastrophe Living, Wherever You Go, There You Are and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction protocol.

I have been studying various forms of right brain practice since I was a child, first through listening to music, playing as many musical instruments as I could get my hands on, and more profoundly when my father, Ernie, handed me a book written by Dr. Herbert Benson, outlining his techniques for mindfulness in The Relaxation Response, which I read as a young teen.  I also studied and began a self-taught yoga practice at that time, just because it seemed right to me.  I also became aware of Dr. John Sarno when both my father and my husband saw him and began his protocol to ease and erase chronic pain, which is described in his many books, among them, Healing Back Pain, The Mind-Body Connection.  There are many wonderful examples and ways to help yourself practice being in the moment finding relief and joy.

As an adult I began to formalize my practice by actually studying more of the types of techniques I had read about and first learned of as a child.  Studying and practicing hypnotherapy (which is about tuning into your self, self awareness and calming) has been a logical extension of all of these practices.  I have studied with Herbert Benson, Jon Kabat Zinn and many others.  I have been and continue to be a voracious reader, devouring Be Here Now by Ram Daas, The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hahn, as well as Carolyn Myss’s Energy Anatomy, Dr. Andrew Weill, and others.

I recently became aware of a post in Huffington Post on the Health Benefits of Creativity, worth a read.  In addition, if this is an area that you find of interest, try watching the Ted Talk from Jill Bolte Taylor, the author of My Stroke of Insight.  While the book and talk outline how Brain Scientist Dr. Taylor experiences her own stroke, it also gives an insider’s look at what is is like in the right brain, which is a wonderful thing.  We need not have a stroke to experience mindfulness, be in the moment, or experience joy.

To me, the key to creativity is to connect with an open mind and an open heart.  Can we have the monkey mind that swings form branch to branch and still enjoy a creative moment, or an interlude?  We can.

There are various ways to accomplish this.  If you love music like do, listen to some of your favorite songs.  Phone a friend.  Go to a paint and sip session, take an enrichment class at a local college or go to a meet-up session.  Go to a movie or a concert, read a book or article or blog (like this!).  Believe it or not, some of these practices help clear your mind.  Others actually bring us more awareness of the moment we are in right NOW!

This brings me to health benefits.  When we spend less time in that left brain which I call the office brain, the planning brain, the worry brain, we get a break, just like when we take a vacation.  The left brain is a necessary brain, but most of us spend far too much time there, and not enough in the moment, the beautiful right brain.  When we think and worry too much, it can disturb our sleep, create anxiety, even panic or depression.  These emotion based symptoms can bring physical manifestations as well, such as insomnia, aches and pains, stomach problems, fatigue, etc.  When we are able to learn to free ourselves of the overwork of too much left brain, we can seek and find relief.

One caveat!  Do not blame yourself for left brain freeze.  We all do it.  However, now that you have read all the way to the end of this post (congrats!) you have already learned some simple ways to practice mindfulness and feel better.

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