The theme of my creative week was effortless exercise, of which more below. But first it’s time to log the week’s accomplishments.
In the Go Creative! method, it’s important for us not to just set goals and intentions and to do lists but also to log what we’ve made happen. You’re invited to share your accomplishments in our closed Facebook group, under the headings of producing, processing and positioning.
MAKER (Producing): Worked on Part I of a very long poem but no way it’s finishing up this week–it blew open in a whole new direction–so instead, I made my first audiobook, a poetry pamphlet, now being mastered by Howard Lovy. I also worked on self-editing Creative Self-Publishing and made further refinements to the Go Creative! Planner. I’m working with Miki Lowe, illustrator, on some line drawings and illustrations to make things clearer.
MANAGER (Processing): Website One is ready. Working on the last parts of the second one now. Also refining the process of my Online Open Mic.
MAXIMIZER (Positioning): My poetry newsletter has been made over. I’ll do the same with my fiction news next week.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? What did you find yourself producing, processing and promoting this week?
My birthday present from my lovely family finally arrived this week from Germany: this gorgeous leather kettlebell set from Nohrd that perfectly matches the old-fashioned wood-and-books library look of my study.
I’ve been wanting to do swing training in my study for ages, to supplement my yoga classes and chi running, the other two forms of effortless exercise I like most.
Stress-reducing, mind-focusing, productivity-boosting, and memory-enhancing, the right kind of exercise improves our brain’s ability to function in ways that greatly boost creativity.
But what is it?
Effortless exercise isn’t self-conscious or forced or willed. Movement flows through the body, which is not focused on anything except the movement itself, or some aspect of it like posture or breathing.
The aim is not to win, not even to compete. Neither is it to get fit, lose weight, or improve body shape, though all of these will happen. There’s no score to keep, no technique to master. There’s just the body, aware of itself, enjoying movement for its own sake.
That’s its defining characteristic: the body settling into itself, the body feeling good.
Effortless exercise, like f-r-e-e-writing or inspiration meditation, or any other creative practice, aims only to be done.
If you’re the kind of person who hated sport at school, distrusts competition, or doesn’t intend to do anything that makes you feel bad about yourself, then this kind of exercise is more likely to be right for you.
Effortless Exercise and Creativity
Thousands of researchers are now studying this phenomenon from different perspectives, and invariably coming to the same conclusion: exercise improves our mood, our ability to think, to reason, to generate ideas, to allow insights, to solve problems, to change perspective and to imagine possibilities.
Not bad for an input of 30 minutes a day.
And there’s more.
Regular exercise also boosts some of the most necessary mental and emotional qualities for conscious creators: strength, stamina, resilience, flexibility. The research shows that, in a measurable way and to a significant degree, exercise strengthens our ability to tolerate uncertainty, risk, criticism and anxiety.
Taken together, it seems that three kinds of creative response, in particular, are greatly boosted by effortless exercise:
- Problem-solving: the ability to encourage fresh, personal perspectives that give rise to original, individual and effective solutions
- Ideation: the ability to generate a high quantity of quality ideas and insights
- Flow: the ability to consciously generate that optimal experience of body, mind and spirit integrating in harmonious focus.
As neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, wrote in Quartz of how our quest for a magic “smart” pill that would make us more creative, productive and happier has already been answered: we just need to exercise.
Recent findings have suggested that it is the brain’s hippocampus that directs people’s ability to imagine new situations. “Since we know,” says Suzuki, “that exercise enhances the birth of new hippocampal brain cells”, she contends it gives a direct boost to the hippocampus’s imaginative functions.
So now I can swing a weight when I need to take a think. What about you? What’s your favorite form of effortless exercise?