All it takes is a trip to the book store to make me feel I'm the only creature on earth who hasn't written a book. Same for recorded an album, made a movie, choreographed a dance production or composed a symphony. What's wrong with me? Maybe I need a brain boost. Or maybe it's just allergy season, which is known to cloud the thought processes. I know I've got a masterpiece of some sort inside, just bursting to get out.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times! Now is the winter of our discontent! Call me Ishmael! It was a dark and stormy night!
Oh, boy. Somebody pass the gingko, wouldya?
What the experts say
"I always find meditation works for jump-starting your creativity. Probably the easiest is one-minute breath . Inhale, taking 20 seconds if you can, hold for 20 seconds, exhale for 20 seconds. Start with just a few seconds, and gradually build it up. If you're in one state of mind it helps take you to another, and that's very helpful for creativity. Another strange little exercise is to rub your hands together like you're trying to get warm. Do it for 10 minutes. The first minute feels good, and then it hurts like hell. At the end, keep your hands about a foot apart and gradually bring them together again. It opens up the area between the shoulder blades and breaks down the seal over the heart. For people doing a lot of writing and thinking, tension goes to the sternum."
YOGI AKAL , director, International Centre for Yogic Arts and Sciences, Toronto
"Increase the silence in your daily life through meditation, journaling or just observing details in nature . In doing so, we end up dissipating the mental chatter. Another important thing is a change . Start with something small like rearranging furniture in a room or going to a new restaurant. It can be as simple as taking a different subway route. Work with your perspective. As soon as it changes, things change for you. Or make a collage , cutting and pasting images or items like shells or rocks or leaves, anything that appeals to you. That can enhance creative energies and give you ideas. Increase play in your life, like bowling or mini-golf, something silly that you might not normally do. This allows you to be freer with yourself. Or take classes in something expressive. I encourage people to see creativity as a process, to work with the idea of patience and trust that it does have ebbs and flows. It's normal to have busier and slower times. Avoid judging or comparing your work."
ALEXIA GEORGOUSIS , naturopath, Toronto
"What we're looking for is a particular class of herbs, neural vasodilators. Basically, these increase blood flow in the brain. You cannot increase your brain power beyond your own capabilities, but most people are not at their full capacity. It could be missing nutrients such as essential fatty acids . It could be insufficient exercise . The best known herb for circulation to the brain is gingko . Thyme , oregano , sage , cloves and rosemary have similar effects. Gingko works best when combined with one of these. My favourite is gingko with rosemary. One slight drawback is that these herbs are mildly tranquilizing. Take them through the day on an empty stomach. You'll get best results over a period of several months, though they can be used for immediate situations as well."
MICHAEL VERTOLLI , herbalist, Toronto
"Since the mind reflects the body, and the body reflects the mind, when your body is free, your mind can retreat from its constant chattering and creativity can flow. The most common areas of tension and blocking are the neck and shoulders. Free them by doing the following: Sit in a comfortable position. Turn your head softly to the right, then left. Observe your breath as it naturally flows in and out. Gently place your right hand on your left shoulder at the base of your neck. As you inhale, squeeze the muscle and at the same time move your shoulder and head toward each other. Pause briefly, then, as you exhale, release the squeeze. Repeat six to eight times. Repeat on the other side with your left hand on your right shoulder. When you are finished, follow your breath and enjoy the quiet of your mind, the softness of your body and the renewed flow of creativity.'
MARION HARRIS , director, Feldenkrais Centre, Toronto
"You should ask yourself in what domain of your life you want to be more creative. In the arts? In your relationship? Do you want to see things differently? We associate it with the arts, but you can be creative in so many ways. Once you've narrowed it down, I might ask if there was a time in your life when you were creative. We want to see what factors you could recreate from that. I would look at how open your body is. If you open up your chest, you can see things differently. Are you running a habitual tape? Is there an underlying belief that you can't do it, or fear of failure and risks? I'm big on getting people in touch with their core self , and the root of that is the word "author, like "authenticand "authority. If you can click into your authentic self, you can be creative.'
NANCY PAGAN , life coach, Cambridge, Massachusetts