It seems that many creative types are attracted to qigong, in fact if you are reading this there is a high probability that you are an artist, musician or engaged in some other kind of creative endeavour even if only as a part-time occupation or hobby. Conversely many people if they are not currently involved in creative or artistic pursuits find that after beginning to practice qigong they soon begin to engage in creative activities as well.
The correlation is remarkable. Personally, when I began my qigong practice I had not previously shown any particular creative talent or been involved with art in any significant way. But shortly after I began my qigong training I also began to sculpt. I did not think much about it at the time, the two were just co-incidental as far as I was concerned, but some years later when visiting my teacher at his house I was surprised to find a selection of oil paintings around his living room all at different stages of the completion. He had never mentioned painting before, but he was obviously quite skilled. When I asked him about it he told me that learning to paint had been part of the training he received from his qigong teacher, along with learning to play music.
I have since gone on to become quite well known for my sculpture, showing at a number of prestigious exhibitions (you can see a selection of my work at my sculpture website: www.johnmunrosculptor.com ). I have also thought quite a lot about the connection between qigong, art and creativity.
Qigong often involves breathing practices which greatly increase the oxygenation of our blood, and sensory awareness exercises that require us to use our brains in ways that we may not have done previously. This increases the electrical activity in parts of our brain and we form new neural pathways in our bodies. As we literally form these new connections in our brains we also begin to become aware of aware of subtle relationships between our mind and body and between ourselves and our environment. This yields new insights that are often not easily explained using our everyday terminology and require metaphor to describe fully.
This process is similar to the creative one where we draw upon perceptions of our lives and the world around us in order to come up with something entirely new. We make connections that may not have been obvious previously and in so doing generate ideas that we wish to express. We often end up using metaphor, symbols and abstraction to describe ideas that we might otherwise find difficult to express clearly and fully.
In terms of Chinese philosophy nature can be divided into two great forces: Yin and Yang. Yin is internal, feminine, creative, nurturing, chaotic, and makes connections between things. Yang is external, masculine, logical, structured, orderly, and divides things into their component parts. The qigong practices most people are familiar with are strongly yin in nature and as they practice they begin to build up this creative internal energy and sooner or later it will need to find an outlet.
The more yin qigong practiced the greater the need for an outlet will become. For most people opportunities for creative outlets will come naturally as they go about their daily lives. These outlets do not need to be purely ‘artistic’ they can be things as simple as cooking or taking on new projects at work, the internal energy could also find expression in activities such as martial arts or dance.
For some of us however, our lives have become so yang – structured, logical and regimented that we may find it hard to break out of our habitual patterns and engage in creativity. These people may need to make a special effort to find creative outlets to channel the inner energy they develop from practicing qigong into.
Recharge Your Brain and Your Creativity
Qigong can be a great way to boost the creativity in your life. If your life is highly structured and regimented, qigong can help to reignite your creative energies bringing new insights, ideas, innovations and enjoyment. For those already involved in creative pursuits it can help to keep your energy alive, fresh and flowing. If you ever feel that your creative juices have dried up, maybe you have writers, painters, musicians or some other kind of ‘block’, try taking some time out to do some qigong. Reconnect with the environment around you, recharge your internal energy and you may be surprised at how quickly your creativity begins to flow again.