Yoga and the Creative Fire
For over 20 years, I have been passionate both about yoga and about the creative process, and both have served me deeply in my life to heal, grow and to live from my heart. In the journey of becoming a yogini, I have noticed that some of the core teachings of yoga have also helped me with my creative life. I want to share with you here one of these core teachings: that of effortless effort. Long ago, one of my own teachers shared these words in a yoga class, “Have just enough effort to sense of a quality of luminosity in the pose, but not so much effort that you are tense or constricted. Be like the light.” These words have stuck with me for many years now, and I have often repeated them – in varying ways -to students in the yoga classes I teach. What these words also make me think about is how we tend a fire: we need to put in just enough effort to make sure the fire doesn’t go out, but not so much effort that we smother the fire. If we move things around too much when creating a campfire, the flame will likely diminish. But if we bring a quality of soft, relaxed effort into our fire tending, the fire keeps burning, on and on and on.
And so it is like this with our own creative fire: if we want to engage the creativity in our lives, we must tend to it in an ongoing way, but also with a quality of effortlessness. If we strive too hard to “be creative,” we may lose touch with or even smother the flame within us. But if we give just enough effort to keep the flame alive, tending to our inner fire in a easeful, conscious way, we create a space where the fire can burn brightly and steadily. Once lit, the fire has its own mystery that keeps it dancing. All we need to do is give it attention and love. All we need to do is bring the quality of effortless effort to it.
What does this mean on a practical level? How can we apply this concept to our lives? If we want to open to our creative flow, we must tend to it, like we tend to the fire. We carve out a space every day or every week to do whatever it it is we are called to do: creative writing, painting, dancing, cooking, singing, raising children, gardening, and infinite other activities that are expressions of our creativity. Important here is that we create a regular space for creating – a space where we are tending our own fire – and that when we do so we free ourselves from the pressure of a particular outcome and instead look for what turns on that quality of luminosity and ease within ourselves. In this space of luminosity and ease, we enter the zone of timelessness where we feel ourselves to be channels through which the creative rivers cannot help but keep flowing and flowing and flowing…
So my friends, as you tend to your inner fire this season, my wish for you is that you create ongoing, regular space for creativity to be expressed through you in whatever ways most turns on the aliveness within you. And may you remember and invoke the qualities of ease and effortless effort that are your birthright.
– Suraya Keating, Registered Yoga Teacher & Expressive Arts Therapist