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This is a transcript from episode #21 of the Let the Verse Flow Podcast.

Perhaps I thought that creative play was gone, that wonder, whimsy and magic were dead. Those were the lies that my mind would tell. But, my heart knew better. The child of my youth was tucked in there, and when the world became too much, it cried out. It said, “I want to come out and play. You need me, and I can come back. Let me help you find your way. To make your lungs breathe sweet air again and your heart beat in loving time. Turn away your mind from uneasy thoughts.” And so I listened. I picked up pen and paper and wrote my living rhymes, jumped into wordplay, and broke the rules that would confine. I closed the door on doubt and worry while my spirit opened up to delight in the mystery of it all. I found my creative soul still inside myself, longing to come out and play. I found that my own company was good. That I had something to say. So, I built from nothingness and found a bountiful spirit to energize every corner of my life. And my new life whispered. “This is good. You are yourself again. Enjoy it for a while.”

Let's talk about what a child knows: that play and creativity are the building blocks of a joyful soul. The impulse to play lives inside us, waiting to be unleashed through creative flow. Let's explore what creative flow is, how it works and why we need it. Let's leave judgment and fear behind as we tap into our inner knowing and listen to our truth.

What is Creative Flow?

So, what is flow? What do we mean when we say we have entered into a flow state? Flow is a state of being where we fully engage our thinking and attention on an activity that brings us joy and fulfillment. We are so engrossed that we get lost in the activity, losing track of time because our mind, body, and senses are fully engaged. We are focused and immersed in an activity that challenges us in just the right way. There’s a balance between our skills and how difficult the task is, so we feel satisfied with our efforts.

I often talk about flow as it relates to creative art-based activities. Creative flow activities such as writing, playing music, painting, woodworking, and photography, but flow can be achieved in a bunch of other activities, like sports or while working or solving problems. You can also enter flow when you are cooking or gardening. Places where you concentrate and feel positively absorbed by the activity.

Creative Flow States Help Us Innovate

So, creative flow is a flow state that arises from creative activities, and what’s wonderful about creative flow states is that we usually come up with new ideas, and there’s innovation. Innovation is energizing, it’s exciting, and it feels good.

Also, creative flow facilitates originality and the expression of new combinations or possibilities. Ideas seem limitless as our energy focuses on the vast realm of possibilities and not limiting factors. Negativity is pushed aside because the creative activity is so engaging, so representative of our best efforts, thoughts, and talents, that there’s almost a dreamlike quality to the experience. We can dream and play with many different concepts, ideas, and outcomes.

What's So Good About Being in a Flow State?

Why do we want to get into a flow state? Because it feels good. Think about the last time you did something that was a perfect match for your skill, held your attention, and made you lose track of time. It’s a wonderful feeling to be totally engrossed in an activity.

There’s also a feeling of losing consciousness. You aren’t troubled or taxed with self-awareness because your mind is exploring elsewhere. Those little worries or anxious feelings fade into the background because you are busy doing something that lets you lose yourself. At the same time, you feel a sense of control, a sense of mastery, which is empowering. You get a sense of joy from the activity, the doing, and not necessarily just the outcome. How liberating!

The Playfulness of Childhood

Do you remember when you were a child at play, losing yourself for hours at a time with your toys? I’m dating myself here, but for me, it was pixie pick-up sticks, jacks, Lincoln logs, and finger painting. Play is a natural way for children to experience flow, and our youthful curiosity and playfulness help us get into a flow state more readily. As we get older, we have more difficulty focusing our concentration on play because it requires us to release our inhibitions and self-consciousness and be free enough to enjoy playful activities.

a little girl playing

Here’s a poem about a child’s wisdom. It’s about the joy we find in our world of play, and what we may lose along the way. Later we may yearn to take up play again, and if we are lucky, we get another chance at play. This poem is called What a Child Knows.

What a Child Knows

By Jill Hodge

There was a time when playing was good
Loop-de-loops and slippery slides
When upside down made life big and wide
When fingers were magic, slick with paint
When tea sets and teddy bears had names and estates
There was a time when talking in the air was good
When stories were told and notions were real
When characters were named
When silly and solitary were serious games
When talking to yourself was child’s play
The years tick on
The field of life changes and we let go of
Magical stairs to nowhere
Nonsensical thoughts filled with wonder and dare
Color and music and tents made of sheets
But where do they go?
Do they die off, and take us with them?
No, they nestle deep in the chest
They pull up the covers to rest their tiny heads
Until we grow weary and long for the past
Until we see value from acres of grass
Until we have fits of laughter
And spin our tales of happily ever after
We need snow
We need escape hatches
And theatrical show
We need music and dance and
Work with our hands
We need creative flow, and states of trance
A time to let go, we really should
It is now, and it is good

When we are young, we know that magic, wonder, and stories are good. That gobs of paint, cookie crumbs, skateboards, and magic doors are escape hatches. We have time to explore, to test, to dream, and our creativity is so rich that it feels like we might burst at the seams. But as the years go by, we get bogged down by responsibility and new life stages. And that’s part of our "adult" plans, but we don’t have to give up all the whimsy and play.

We don’t have to give up on theater or dance or working with hands. We can return to those things. We can make time for those things. We can enjoy losing ourselves in those things.

And that’s what creative flow is all about. It’s about losing yourself to find yourself. It’s about engaging in an activity that suits your particular skills and talents so well that you become one with the activity. You are one with the paint. One with the keyboard, one with the hammer, one with the camera. And being one with something that creates beauty is deeply satisfying.

In those moments, we realize that we want to go on living and that we want to express our particular talents, ideas, and notions. We can dream and make beautiful things. We can reconnect with our inner child and give our inner world what it most desires.

Creative Flow is Soulful Work

More than anything, I think creative flow is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get engrossed in something that frees your very soul. Yes, this is deep stuff because we may have buried that soul under tons of responsibility blankets.

We may have told that soul we don’t have time for frivolous things. We may have told that soul it doesn’t matter when this person or that project needs us. We may have lied to ourselves about what our soul wants or scared it off with notions that we weren’t good enough.

But if we suspend these judgments, and these "shoulds" and responsibilities for just a few moments (maybe 30 minutes to start) we can find ourselves, and we can reconnect with ourselves. We deserve that, and it will feed everything else in our lives.

GIF of Rocky Balboa with phrase "You can Do it."

Here's Your Pep Talk: Rocky Balboa Style

So, here’s the Rocky music, coming on strong [listen to the episode]. We are channeling Rocky Balboa as we prepare to devote some serious time to our creative spirit. Let’s bring out the Rocky in us – we need just 30 solid minutes of creative time. You can do this; you can carve out this time. Who’s with me? Put yourself back on your to-do list and stick with this creative time block. I promise the rewards will be thrilling; the rewards will have you feeling wonder. You will feel free; then, like magic, you will create something new. It will feed your soul; these 30 minutes will give you back years. Let’s get our Rocky on, time to make something that only you can make. Something made only in the way that you can make it. Let’s go.

Are you pumped up now? Here are just five little steps, my short roadmap for carving out that 30-minute block of time, to engage your creative project and get you into flow. It may not be a project yet; it may be just a small feeling, a notion, a hint of any idea. That’s OK. Let’s go.

Five Steps to Cultivate Creative Flow

🎯Step One: Set an intention. Don’t get tripped up on the word intention; it just means that you make a decision and clearly direct your mind to a specific purpose. Intentions help direct your actions and thoughts. Your intention here might be to devote 30 minutes to work on a creative project. You might also guide your thinking about these 30 minutes as playful me-time.

When I say project, I mean it in the sense that you are working to create something. This creative act should mean a lot to you. You know what it is if you listen carefully. Your mind will tell you what to work on, and while creative activities are playful and fun, they are also work. They require commitment and consistency to take shape. So, set an intention to devote 30 minutes to a creative activity.

📆Step Two: Schedule it. Put this time on your calendar. Protect it from the rest of your to-do list. This me-time is essential to your livelihood, to your creative spirit, to your needs and your unique way of expressing yourself. Start to think about it as a non-negotiable need. You engage in creativity for at least 30 minutes, at least a few times per week without question.

🏡Step Three: Ready your space. This step is fun. Get your supplies, materials, and creative space set up to reflect how you like to work and what excites your senses. Right now, I have a podcast studio of sorts set up in my daughter’s bedroom. She’s away at college, so I’ve created a creative nook in her room.

I’m surrounded by my podcasting equipment, my daughter's little army of childhood lovies (they comfort me in her absence), and tons of books to inspire me. This is my space for creative expression. When I come here, I know I will open myself up to new ideas, innovation, and freedom of expression. How exhilarating that is, especially as you get older and you have so many responsibilities! You set the rules here in this space.

💭Step Four: Reflect. After your creative sessions are over, reflect on them. What did you just do? What did you create? How did you move forward? Did you get into creative flow? How did it feel? This reflection increases your awareness of how important this creative time is to you. It creates a sort of peaceful home and facilitating environment, that you will want to return to again and again.

🔁Step Five: Repeat steps 1-4. Don’t overthink it, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get to it, but bring yourself back to your creative space (mentally and physically). Sometimes creative work doesn’t come easily. On those days, move through the process and release judgment about the outcome. Some days, we don’t create something worth keeping; we may not have gotten into creative flow, but we did set an intention for creativity. And that creative mojo will return on another day if we repeat this process.

Reach out to me and let me know how these creative sessions are going. If you like to create while listening to music, head over to the Let the Verse Flow YouTube channel and listen to one of my music video playlists. I make music playlists for each season. A good beat, a catchy melody, or a moody riff, can help us cultivate creativity.

Lastly, I want to let you know that I’ve been recording some affirmation meditations to accompany some of the topics in this podcast. Several listeners reached out to tell me that they thought my voice was soothing and would be perfect for creating meditation episodes. I’ve heard you (and am honored that you find comfort in my voice).

I’ve been meditating for a few years (off and on) and was attending weekly Buddhist meditation classes for about a year before COVID. I’ve started writing some meditations based on my studies. Now, I’ll be sharing them with you. In the coming weeks, I’ll release some short bonus affirmation meditation episodes on the topics we’ve been exploring. If you haven’t already, follow the show so you will get notifications when these new bonus episodes drop.

Journal Prompts to Explore Creative Flow

For all my journalers, you can also cultivate mindfulness and set intentions for your creative growth and practice by writing about it. If you don’t journal, you can simply use these prompts to guide your thinking about creative flow. Here are some journal prompts to awaken your childlike spirit as you explore creative flow.

Which creative activities did you enjoy as a child? Did you give them up as you got older and do you want them back? Why?
Write about a creative activity that you want to reintroduce in your life. Devote 30 minutes to that activity (aim for at least 3x per week). Then, write about how it felt to engage in that activity.
What do you notice about yourself, your feelings, and your mindset when you engage in creative flow activities?

I hope that reawakening your childlike spirit in creative play or developing a new creative pastime allows you to experience periods of creative flow. We deserve the joyful break that it can bring to our stressful lives. May you find a path to creative flow as you stay on the bright side of the beat. 🌞

Podcast Music: My thanks to all the musicians who make incredible music and have the courage to put it out into the world. All music for my podcast is sourced and licensed for use via Soundstripe.

Songs in this podcast episode: Lilting by Cast Of Characters; Slide by GEMM; Deep Sea Dive by Chelsea McGough; Try Oh My by Sam Barsh; Pyaar Kee Seemaen by Cast of Characters

LTVF Season Two Music Playlist: Check out the songs that inspire me and connect with artists from many genres who add to our collective, human soundtrack.

Listen to Let the Verse Flow on Your Podcast Player of Choice

You can listen to LTVF on all major podcast apps like Apple, Google, and Spotify. Please rate & review to help spread the word about the podcast!! 💛💜

Check out the resources on this website (and subscribe) to get podcast episodes, poems, articles, music playlists, and journal prompts delivered to your inbox.

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Journaling Resources

30-Day Journal Challenge (Writing Prompts to Get Started)
Here’s a fun & simple 30-day journal challenge for beginners (or those who need inspiration). Use the daily prompts to rediscover yourself.

Sign up for the Let the Verse Flow Newsletter and get access to all my articles, including this free 30-Day Journal challenge (with starter writing prompts).

Journaling 101: An Inspirational Guide to Start (or Revive) a Practice
Whether you write, doodle, draw, or keep memorable quotes, journaling uncovers YOU. Let your unconscious mind speak, download my free guide.

Sign up for the Let the Verse Flow Newsletter and get access to all my articles, including this free journaling guide.

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