For so many of us “riding the waves” is a practice we tend to think about only during challenging times. We go to yoga classes or listen to podcasts that remind us to breathe into discomfort and observe where we feel sensation without reacting. We draw on the mantra “this too shall pass” for solace—an invitation to vision the calm after the storm.
Yet rarely do we talk about riding the waves when things are, well, awesome—when our days feel full and rich, when we’re in the rhythmic flow of work and play, taking action to manifest our dreams. In the midst of such fullness, remembering to pause, to move slowly, or even to breathe deeply, can be easily left by the wayside.
I find the days I most need the reminder to take care and slow down are not the days I’m bummed out, but those when I’m buzzing with inspiration, head down bum up in a new project, expanding my creative horizons, forging synchronistic connections that seem to magically affirm my intentions and desires. On these days I feel like shouting yes! to the world... And sometimes I do. But I also take time to recognize that the euphoric high I feel when manifesting creative work requires me to build in time for stillness and integration if I want this work to be sustained and supported by a solid foundation.
I believe there is no more important time to check-in, slow down, and actively make time to take care of ourselves than when we’re rolling on the waves of massive creative surges, in full-fledged creation mode, midwifing our potential into the world. Oftentimes, it can be so inherently energizing to spend long hours working to bring our passions and dreams into reality, that this massive energy expenditure can lead us to feeling simultaneously wiped and wired at 11 p.m. Ultimately, the wellspring of creativity rests in our ability to regulate and find balance, to operate in a rhythm that ebbs and flows—knowing when to let go of intensity and simply rest.
Here are four simple self-care and balance reminders for when your creative juices are flowing:
Author Anne Lamott calls rest (and laughter) “the most subversive of spiritual activities.” Make getting a full night’s sleep your priority. So much of the "work" during creative times happens in the down time, the moments when our brain isn’t doing, but simply being, integrating the action of the day. Rest replenishes our ability to fully inhabit our waking moments and ride inspiration skillfully and sustainably.
Take time to write about your inspiration and creative process. Investigate where you are, and set intention for where you want to go. This written reflection can help to slow the mind while simulatenously expanding awareness about your project from a broader perspective.
When we’re working hard—and especially if we’re loving it—it's easy to wake up thinking about the story you’re writing, painting you’re creating, or website you’re building. But remember: Your brain is only half of the equation. Take time to stretch your body, sweat, and move during the day. This is a great way to naturally activate deeper breathing and keep the body free from stagnated physical energy.
Remember that image of the creatively inspired person who forgets to eat or drink, and sleeps at 3 a.m.? This image is outdated. We don’t have to martyr ourselves to bring creativity into the world. Make sure to sip lots of water throughout the day and fuel your body with nourishing, healthy, living foods. There’s nothing like a heavy meal or a headache from dehydration to put a damper on your creative flow. Treat your body as an ally in the creative process, rather than a hindrance, and you’ll move further, faster, and with more ease and enjoyment.