Many, many moons ago, while working at an art museum as an Arts Educator, I decided to study massage therapy. When I told the museum director, he looked at me baffled. He told me he thought the idea of a creative professional also doing massage felt like two disconnected ideas. It seemed to me to make perfect sense, so I took a moment to explain to him how creativity is like a good massage.
I have been thinking of this recently as I find my creativity cramping up, as it often does for Creatives. When a massage therapist works on a muscle, she loosens it up, then often will apply a bit of pressure to the sweet spot (also known as a pressure point). The pressure point is much like a magical button that will release the whole of the muscle after just a little work.
She looks for it with her hands, and when she finds it, she applies pressure. She will notice the muscle squirming, quivering, and resisting. She can back off a bit or even apply a bit more pressure. If she pushes too hard, the muscle won’t relax. If she doesn’t give enough, she may miss getting all she can release. But if she finds a balance, she will notice the muscle melting like chocolate under the warmth of her hand.
Creativity that is all kinked up can be released in this same way. It requires a bit of pressure to get it to give in and get moving again. Not enough pressure, and we can stay stuck for some time.
What does getting unstuck creatively look like?
We can get stuck in our creativity in a number of ways. We get in a rut, doing the same thing and hoping for different results. We always paint with the same colors. We always sit at our favorite desk. We look to the same things for inspiration. Or, we expect the same results out of a process we are bored with. We have been drawing trees for years. They are beautiful. Maybe people even know us for our trees, so the fact that we are thinking about dance or poetry feels like a risk so big we are shut down.
What do I mean by pressure?
Applying pressure can look like a few different things. I think sitting and looking at the block is a great place to start. Who wants to sit with that? We want to get beyond the creative block, not look at it. But getting quiet and saying… What is this block about? … can give a voice to the block that will give us insight or inspiration.
Applying pressure can also be about throwing another element into the arena. (In massage, it is the finger or hand.) But for creativity it may be exploring the same subject but with different color or adding collage to your painting process. It may be changing the beat in music or starting your cooking session with prayer. Adding a new element forces the same old thing to take a new shape…..gives us a new perspective.
My favorite way to add a bit of pressure is to invite someone else into the picture. Yes…we can always massage ourselves. But…when we have someone else, it is way better!
When we are creating, we can add a person by co-working. I love painting with others or collaborating. Sometimes we can work on the same project or even just working side by side is energizing in a way that we don’t get alone. (Note: always make sure the person you create with is emotionally safe for you. Take care of your Inner Creative.)
Scheduling a show can be great pressure because it adds an audience. You can decide to take place in a group art show, an open mic, or even just a show-and-tell at your home. It creates a sense of urgency that nearly always gets creativity dancing under your finger until it melts into sweet chocolatey flow!
Partnering with a Life Coach who understands the creative process can also be a great way to add a person into the process. As a Life Coach and Sacred Creativity Guide, I am able to honor where you are while helping you move out of that space and into the next phase of your journey.
I would love to hear some of your tricks and tips for getting your creativity flowing by using gentle pressure. And if that has been counter productive, I would love to hear that too. It is great to learn from each other. The Creativity Tribe is listening!