Cultivate Creative Flow with Chetna Mehta, Mixed Media Artist and Mental Wellness Mystic

Sometimes we get paralyzed when we sit down to make “art”- by we, I mean me, and so many people I know. It manifests as writer’s block, pent up aggression, trying and then giving up quickly, frustration with the “creative process,” and a myriad of other ways. We tend to compare ourselves to what we’ve seen and learned. We hold our creations to a standard that already exists. We might also say to ourselves things like, “I’m not artistic” or “I’m not creative,” or “I don’t know.” Already, we’re blocking our flow.

To cultivate creative flow, we can remember a few things:

As living human beings, we all have an intuition, the natural/wild ability to sense without the intellect; so we all have the seeds of creative flow within. We’re all artists in our own rights, we all have creativity. Not all of us express our creativity as much as we need to, we hoard our creative gifts in silence or behind veils; I heard Brene Brown once say that “unused creativity is not benign; it gets masticated into grief, anger, depression…” We were born to create, and when we don’t fulfill our creative potential, we suffer.

Many of us may be artists of things undiscovered or unrevealed, things we don’t see enough of around us; we owe it to “art” and to our world to offer our own visions, voices and creativity. We don’t necessarily need more imitators, we need our individual innovation. It takes looking inward and sitting with ourselves in patient practice, opening ourselves up to the unknown, for creative flow to reveal itself to us. We have to coax out our creativity and flow with recognition, patience and acceptance.

Steer away from comparison, comparison kills creativity flow. There’s a lot of art in the world, it’s hard not to define our own creativity by what already exists, or what art is “supposed” to be. We can look to things for inspiration, but trying to create like someone else is only limiting flow. It’s brilliant to draw inspiration from others, and it can be hard to draw the boundary between admiration and comparison; when you notice yourself comparing you to someone else, steer clear and refocus on the process of your own creation. Focus on the pen to paper, the colors of your palette; make decisions from your gut rather than your mind or rationale, don’t overthink. Trust the process.

Notice and release self-judgment (similar to meditation, except here you have more than your breath to focus on). Judgment tends to depreciate creativity and cut off flow. Sometimes, my critic incapacitates me mid-process; it says things like “you’re wasting time,” “you’re wasting paper,” “this is ugly,” and “what the f*ck is this?” Self-criticism and judgment can also be hard to avoid, as there are a lot of societal judgments in the world that we internalize, and that ultimately block our flow. These judgments like to come out when we allow ourselves to release and play. Yet, they often don’t serve us; so when it comes up, gently refocus attention on the creative process, pen on paper or color on canvas. If judgment comes up at the outcome of your art, refocus to acceptance, and just let it be. Allow yourself to step back from it and perhaps come back to it another time.

Prepare for yourself to get into flow; as much as possible, allocate your art supplies and enough time to get immersed in your process. Lay out the art tools you anticipate needing, have it all within reach. Minimize distraction, intend to focus on just your creation, don’t multi-task. Have a designated time, 15 minutes or 3 hours, that you’ll devote to creativity like a meditation. Daily practice carves a path for you, and your inner child, to express more and more freely; allow yourself devoted time to channel your creative flow.

Consider this time for PLAY; no need to take it so seriously, get in the mindset of play and express yourself freely without trying to meet standards or giving up on yourself. Forget technique, you don’t even need to necessarily sketch “drafts” beforehand, just go for it, leave perfection at the door, release comparison of your work to what you know as “art.” Be free with it and remember that what you create does not define you nor your potential for more expansive creation.

Affirmations: My voice is clear and strong.                          I freely express myself. I release expectations.                                     I accept my creative self in this moment. My visions manifest

- Chetna Mehta