The Importance of Flow

The Importance of Flow

If you’ve ever engaged in creative pursuits, you understand that sometimes you’re on, sometimes you’re off. For whatever reason, the Muse may grant favor one day and creativity feels effortless. The next day, she may give you the cold shoulder, and you’re just – stuck. This is the nature of creative Flow.

What is Flow?

Flow is when the creativity faucet in your brain has been opened. Much like the rush of running water, Flow is the current of your creative thoughts. It is this motion of creative focus that facilitates our best ideas and inspiration. Some people refer to this mental state as “being on” or “finding your mojo”.

It is hard to comprehend the true value of Flow without experiencing it. It’s almost like a sixth sense- intangible until you are in the midst of it. Once you find your Flow and enter into it, creativity and imagination will be greatly enhanced. The basis for creativity is linking seemingly unrelated concepts and thoughts. In the flow, you will begin to make abstract connections between ideas much quicker and many inhibitions will be lowered. Working within a “Flow” state will result in a feeling of freedom as possibilities for creative problem-solving become abundant.

Entering the Flow

So exactly how might one enter this creative Flow? We have no idea. If you figure it out, will you let us know?

I kid.

Sort of.

There may be times when it will feel like your Muse has bequeathed magic upon you, inspiring your creative output. But we believe that Flow is more physiological than magical (although no one here is denying the possibility of magic). Let’s just not assume this is how it has to work. If it did, then our whole “Creativity is for Everyone” mantra would be hard to swallow for those untouched by the “magic.”

Essentially, we need to give our brains space and freedom to wander, daydream, and use our imaginations. As adults, we have so much structure and little free time. The conventions of society have programmed us to deny and shut off our creativity. Entering Flow means limiting typical restrictions such as time, expectation, and practicality so that we can allow creativity to do its work. Like a torrent when floodgates are opened, creativity is most powerful when it can be free and untamed. Of course, we have limited resources of time and energy, but if we prioritize space in our schedules and our minds for creativity, we will begin to reap the benefits of Flow.

There are also exercises (here at MossyBrain we have an activity we like to call a FlowJam) we can use to keep our brain on its proverbial toes; brain puzzles, write new lyrics to familiar songs, draw something without lifting your pen, learn a new instrument, go somewhere you’ve never been, write a haiku, freestyle rap! These are just a few of a plethora of ideas that get our brains to shut down filters and free associate. Any kind of new activity can push us out of “normal thought patterns” and boost our creativity.

This is not a formula for creative success, but an awareness of what benefits our brains and facilitates creative thinking.

Maintaining the Flow

Experiencing this magical state of uninhibited mojo can definitely leave you wanting more. Once you experience creative Flow, the natural next question is probably “How can I return to a state of Flow when needed?”

The simple answer is to be intentional and to set yourself up for success. But the practice of doing so is far from simple. Resistance to creativity takes many insidious forms- some obvious, some subtle. Don’t let yourself become complacent in your life so that creativity and Flow become a distant memory. Continually break down the barriers and inhibitions that keep your Flow reduced to a trickle.

Disrupt your routine unexpectedly- take a walk, meditate, take a long shower, enjoy nature. Activities that don’t require mental noise, that allow you to clear your mind, will boost your creativity. These simple disruptions could be the catalyst needed to burst through the dam holding your Flow back. Also, utilize the FlowJam activities when you want a creative breakthrough. Just a few dedicated minutes can have great impact. Do WHATEVER IT TAKES and do it with intention. Your creative mojo is worth it!

Happy, Healthy FLOW

Life can take it out of us. Responsibilities, relationships, even activities we use to unwind (or numb, if we’re being honest) can fill up every inch of our lives. But don’t just shrug and continue with the status quo! We want to encourage you to invest in yourself and your creativity. Make some free space to find your creative Flow; you won’t regret it!

As always, we here at MossyBrain are your biggest cheerleaders! Listen to the podcast for our FlowJam exercise near the beginning of each show, and check out our FlowJam article for some more ideas. Happy Creating!

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, loves Chai (hot or iced) and also enjoys rainy days.

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

You might also like…

Ep 10 – Just Getting Started

In this episode, Jessica and Ben recount their respective recent travels and try and determine how many unorthodox uses a paperclip has. They explain some ways of getting started in your creative journey, breaking down some important things to keep in mind as you...

read more

Ep 9 Let’s Talk About Flow

Hosts Jessica and Ben return from vacation to some big changes at home. A delicious, yet respectful salute to the troops is devised in the FlowJam. And finally the purpose and importance of Flow in your creative journey is unpacked and explained.Subscribe to The...

read more

DISCLOSURE: Some links in this article, and elsewhere on this site, may be affiliate links. While there is not any additional cost to you, purchases made via those affiliate links may earn us a commission. Only products and services which have been vetted and tested by the MossyBrain team are featured and promoted. If you are thinking of purchasing a featured product or service, or have a genuine interest in a linked product, your use of the affiliate link is appreciated and allows us to continue writing these kinds of helpful articles. Thanks so much!

Document Your Creative Journey

Document Your Creative Journey

As you intentionally make time and space for more creativity this year, be sure to document and record your adventures. We tend to view our endeavors through a lens of completion, or arriving at the destination, but creativity is a journey!  The journey is where the value lies. Not only will documenting your journey help you process what you are learning, but down the road you will be grateful you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

Journal

We can’t advocate this enough. Write down important creative breakthroughs, write down your challenges, write down your hopes. Writing as an exercise just opens things up for you mentally. When you’re inspired, write. Hit a wall? Write. You get the idea- we want you to journal about every step of the process. Sometimes, just the mere act of physically writing something out can get things flowing. Write because of the effect it can have on your creativity, and write for your future self to witness the progress. And be sure to doodle in the margins of your journal- it will look cool and you’ll feel more creative!

Take Photos and Videos

If you’re anything like me, you tend to want to only document the beautiful, the funny, or the noteworthy moments in life. Because of the nature of creating, your journey will be full of ups and downs, the inspired and the mundane. Not every step will be earth-shattering; sometimes it looks much like the step before. But document ANYWAY. Capture the in-between moments, the moments of progression and transition. The journey is the true masterpiece, not the final product. Be to your creativity as a doting parent with a cute kid- record as much as you reasonably can, whether you think anyone will care or not.

Developing a Creativity Culture

Speaking of cute kids, we have lots of ‘em. And we are so grateful to have started documenting each of their journeys from the beginning. I have a journal for each of them, countless photos (some children are better documented than others. Sorry, #3 and #4) and videos to record everyday moments. What we love about this is that we documented little details that we would never remember years later, but that we look back on now with delight. Little songs that my toddler made up in the bath have become inside jokes, and actually part of our family’s culture.

All that to say, you don’t know what will become important, poignant, or inspiring to you in the future. The more you document, the more opportunity you have to develop your own creativity culture.

Progress not Perfection.

This means that each moment invested in a creative journey has value because you are moving forward. Most of the time it’s not glamorous, but it is still worth recording. When we document, we can look back and see those little steps of progress that become our journey. Take photos and videos to remind yourself where you’ve been- the bumps and victories along the way. It’s amazing how quickly we can forget when we aren’t intentional about documenting. They may not mean much to anyone else, but you will look back with pride, chagrin, sentiment and countless other emotions.

A Digital Archive

We are living in an amazing point in history where digital cloud storage is cheap and plentiful. Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Facebook, Instagram, Evernote- these are just a sampling of the fantastic web services that can be used to archive your work and your story. So jump in- be intentional about documenting and uploading your progress for posterity. You will never regret doing this- your content will be waiting for you whenever you need to reflect or be inspired.

The View From The Top

This reflection will inspire you to continue on your journey, and will also be a treasured legacy as you look back on it in years to come. As you climb the mountain of each creative project, discipline or initiative, take the time to turn around and see how far you’ve actually come. If you intentionally reflect, going back through your journals, photos and videos, you’ll see that you are no longer where you were. You’re in new, uncharted territory.

Because creativity is a path and not a destination, taking time to enjoy the sights along the way only enhances the experience. This documented record allows you the opportunity to not only reflect personally, but to share and inspire others with all that you have endured and accomplished.

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, loves Chai (hot or iced) and also enjoys rainy days.

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

You might also like…

Ep 10 – Just Getting Started

In this episode, Jessica and Ben recount their respective recent travels and try and determine how many unorthodox uses a paperclip has. They explain some ways of getting started in your creative journey, breaking down some important things to keep in mind as you...

read more

Ep 9 Let’s Talk About Flow

Hosts Jessica and Ben return from vacation to some big changes at home. A delicious, yet respectful salute to the troops is devised in the FlowJam. And finally the purpose and importance of Flow in your creative journey is unpacked and explained.Subscribe to The...

read more
Legendary Weirdo – Mary Oliver

Legendary Weirdo – Mary Oliver

We want to celebrate the life a recently deceased Legendary Weirdo, Mary Oliver. While certainly one of the most famous American poets, winning the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award among many others, we consider Oliver to be a legendary creative mind, a MossyBrain matriarch.

Mary had a difficult childhood. Because of that, nature became a safe haven. She would retreat into the nearby woods, build huts, and write poems. That relationship with nature continued as an adult. She was known for taking long, meandering walks every day, and the influence of the natural world is prominent in her poems.

Her poetry combines spirituality and an adoration of nature. Her poems are simple, easy to understand, yet profound. She told NPR, “Poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn’t be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now, they sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary should not be in the poem.”

That accessibility certainly contributed to her popularity, and her influence on the modern poetic landscape. She was famously reclusive and humble, not enjoying the limelight and avoiding interviews. One gets the impression that she was unapologetically herself, flawed and messy. She did not need to be impressive, she was uncomfortable with fame and glory.  She seemed to write for the sake of writing.

In one of her most famous poems, Wild Geese, we find a MossyBrain mantra:

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

Mary Oliver shows us how the world can offer itself to our imaginations in the seemingly mundane- on a morning walk, watching the ocean waves roll in or leaves rustling in the wind. Our world is a wondrous place- may we all find the courage of curiosity to breathe in the beauty surrounding us.

“When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”
-Excerpt from When Death Comes

Take some time to dig deeper into Mary Oliver’s collected works. Below are some of her most popular collections- click the Amazon links or check them out from your local library. You won’t be disappointed!

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, enjoys drinking Chai (hot or iced) and loves rainy days.

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

You might also like…

Ep 10 – Just Getting Started

In this episode, Jessica and Ben recount their respective recent travels and try and determine how many unorthodox uses a paperclip has. They explain some ways of getting started in your creative journey, breaking down some important things to keep in mind as you...

read more

Ep 9 Let’s Talk About Flow

Hosts Jessica and Ben return from vacation to some big changes at home. A delicious, yet respectful salute to the troops is devised in the FlowJam. And finally the purpose and importance of Flow in your creative journey is unpacked and explained.Subscribe to The...

read more

DISCLOSURE: Some links in this article, and elsewhere on this site, may be affiliate links. While there is not any additional cost to you, purchases made via those affiliate links may earn us a commission. Only products and services which have been vetted and tested by the MossyBrain team are featured and promoted. If you are thinking of purchasing a featured product or service, or have a genuine interest in a linked product, your use of the affiliate link is appreciated and allows us to continue writing these kinds of helpful articles. Thanks so much!

Surround Yourself With Creative People

Surround Yourself With Creative People

Support and inspiration are key to having your most creative year yet. Who is someone in your life that encourages and inspires your creativity? Who is someone who lives and breathes creativity? Who is a total weirdo in your life? Who loves and accepts you no matter what? If you’re thinking of faces to match those descriptions, you need to be spending more time with those people this year.

People Who Create Themselves

This may sound obvious but find people who make creating a priority. ‚ Half the battle is where the rubber meets the road. In other words, we can dream and think and plan all day, but until we actually take the steps to make, to create, our journey is abstract. Look for people who are hitting the pavement, and actively investing in a creative life. You’ll know them when you talk to them; they don’t keep this part of themselves a secret. Talent is secondary to a creative mindset and expressions.

People Who Inspire You

Being around these types of people will energize you. Their creativity will spark a surge in your own. You don’t have to have the same aesthetic or interests to bask in their creative vibes. Creativity is not one size fits all; it’s personal. Surrounding yourself with people comfortable with their own uniqueness and creativity will rub off on you, if only to demystify the weirdness. We’re all weirdos; most of us have just gotten very good at hiding it. Let’s embrace the weird!

People Who Uplift You

In order to benefit from surrounding yourself with fellow creatives, find people who are secure in themselves and their own creative journey. Those are the ones who believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. They encourage people around them and want to see others thrive. They won’t be stingy with their talents and wisdom. Proximity to them benefits like-minded individuals pursuing a creative path, because they are happy to share their gifts and input. They will foster and nurture your creativity without any judgement.

Consider Current Relationships

Conversely, if there are those in your life who consistently discourage you, are threatened by your growth or progress, or tear you down- consider the effect the relationship is having on you and make a choice.  Can you restrict their influence over your life? Can you find space from them and grow in health? Imagine this same relationship was impacting a friend’s life the way it is affecting yours. How would you advise him or her to proceed? Often, we are more encouraging and concise with others than we are with ourselves.

It can be difficult for loved ones to keep up when you are growing or changing. Even though it’s hard, sometimes, you have to reflect on how relationships are affecting you and then take appropriate action. Perhaps all it will take is a conversation to enlighten them about your feelings, or maybe a bigger decision needs to be made. Be honest with them, and then be honest with yourself. Move toward those who believe in you 100%, who will not limit your potential, and who want the best for you.

Drawing a Blank?

If you can’t think of people in your life to fit these positive descriptions, it may be time to get outside your comfort zone and meet some new friends. How might you best do that? Go to places where free-thinking creatives might be- local music shows, craft or maker fairs, creative Facebook groups, festivals, poetry slams, etc. Finding places where creatives might congregate is an exercise in creativity in its own right! So… you should show up at these places or events and start talking to people.

Again- this is about getting out of your comfort zone. Put yourself out there- you probably have some new best friends waiting to meet you. Just remember as you start these new relationships- Kindness is Magic. Be authentic and kind. You’ll be amazed how well a relationship blooms when a little kindness is sprinkled onto it!

Finally, look at the above characteristics, and inhabit those in your friends’ lives. Let’s jump into a revolving door of giving and receiving support and inspiration so that we can all live our most creative lives. As always, leave us a comment and let us know- what characteristics do you value in creative friends, and where did you find your support system?

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, loves sipping Chai (hot or iced) and rainy days.

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

You might also like…

Ep 10 – Just Getting Started

In this episode, Jessica and Ben recount their respective recent travels and try and determine how many unorthodox uses a paperclip has. They explain some ways of getting started in your creative journey, breaking down some important things to keep in mind as you...

read more

Ep 9 Let’s Talk About Flow

Hosts Jessica and Ben return from vacation to some big changes at home. A delicious, yet respectful salute to the troops is devised in the FlowJam. And finally the purpose and importance of Flow in your creative journey is unpacked and explained.Subscribe to The...

read more
The Enneagram and Creativity

The Enneagram and Creativity

We here at MossyBrain are big fans of the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality typing system, within a spiritual framework, made up of nine interrelated personality types. Your type is not who you are. It represents an adaptive strategy you developed to deal with whatever life throws at you. As we grow, we learn to understand our coping mechanisms and how to move toward our true self.

You may relate to multiple types, but everyone has a dominant type that they most identify with. You can take online tests to help determine your type, but reading through the descriptions and talking with someone who knows the Enneagram well is a preferable way to figure it out. For some it will be immediately clear, but others may take a longer road to finding their type. Understanding the Enneagram and who you are is a tool that can help each of us relate better to ourselves and the world around us.

What does the Enneagram have to do with creativity?

We believe that expressing yourself creatively, however that looks for you, will help you understand who you are. Conversely, knowing who you are will help you get in touch with your creativity and how you want to express yourself. They two feed off of each other, and can become an inspiring cycle of self-realization and creation. Awareness, whether of self or others, is always a gift to creativity.

Know Yourself

The Enneagram helps us learn about our personalities – what makes us tick, what we have to offer, our fears and challenges. When I understand my own strengths, weaknesses and motivations, I can begin to slow down and be intentional.  In a moment in which I may have instinctively reacted previously, I can observe how I am feeling and why. I can then decide how I want to behave. I am not a slave to my feelings or my past. On the other hand, if we are unaware of our weaknesses, insecurities, and triggers, we are more likely to react in a negative or unhelpful way.

Knowing yourself helps you determine whether you are in a healthy or unhealthy place. Your level of health is not static. We can vacillate between the spectrum within a day, sometimes within an hour. The Enneagram explores levels of health for each personality and the behaviors and thoughts associated with each level. Self-awareness is key to understanding your circumstances and feelings, and those might help you identify your resistance to creating.

Knowing yourself also helps you understand your personal barriers to creativity. Some of us are extremely risk averse, others struggle with lack of motivation or drive, others have an excessive fear of failure, or of judgement. These barriers can prohibit creative pursuits if we are blindly led by them. Knowing our personal barriers can facilitate awareness and help us develop proactive tools to combat them. Each of us needs to embrace our unique personality, and the benefits and challenges therein.

Understand Others Better

It is useful to understand each of the Enneagram personality types, along with each type’s motivations, struggles, and gifts. This allows us to see through the simple actions and reactions of others. We become more compassionate when we are compelled to look beneath the behavior, and are look through their lens’.

There may be a particular personality type or certain attributes that rub you the wrong way. Once you understand their perspective, you will often see the why underneath and, in turn, offer grace. This ability is a gift to those you interact with, and to yourself, because you will stop being limited by long-held stigmas or prejudices. Each person’s strengths, abilities, and gifts will become more clear and therefore, your circle of collaboration will expand.

Creative Compatibility

Creative collaboration means working with other people on creative endeavors, which we believe is important in living your most extraordinary and mossy life. Knowing ourselves and others helps us understand our creative compatibility with those we encounter.

It is helpful to learn how each personality type interacts with the other types. In her book, The Enneagram in Work and Love, Helen Palmer describes how the nine types relate in intimate and work-related settings. She goes through each combination of numbers, in both love and work, and describes potential relational strengths and struggles. She says, “Partnership demonstrates the differences between us. Each of us can be telling the truth, yet each can have a different story to tell.”

The Enneagram can help understand others’ outlooks, and see our relationships with clarity. When we look at how our personalities affect relationships, we can begin to understand the obstacles and pitfalls we may have experienced with others. Most importantly, we can learn how to work with every type, knowing that each one will come with specific challenges and gifts.

Go Deeper with the Enneagram

We are grateful for the Enneagram as a tool that facilitates more awareness of self and others, and therefore, helps us live more creatively. If you want to learn more about the Enneagram, check out our Enneagram Primer, go to www.enneagraminstitute.com, or read The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. These are just a few of the plethora of resources available. It’s a great time to learn about the Enneagram! As always, let us know about your Enneagram journey, and what you are learning along the way!

DISCLOSURE: Some links in this article, and elsewhere on this site, may be affiliate links. While there is not any additional cost to you, purchases made via those affiliate links may earn us a commission. Only products and services which have been vetted and tested by the MossyBrain team are featured and promoted. If you are thinking of purchasing a featured product or service, or have a genuine interest in a linked product, your use of the affiliate link is appreciated and allows us to continue writing these kinds of helpful articles. Thanks so much!

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, bringing peace and kindness with her everywhere she goes. She loves Chai (hot or iced) and also rainy days

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

You might also like…

Ep 10 – Just Getting Started

In this episode, Jessica and Ben recount their respective recent travels and try and determine how many unorthodox uses a paperclip has. They explain some ways of getting started in your creative journey, breaking down some important things to keep in mind as you...

read more

Ep 9 Let’s Talk About Flow

Hosts Jessica and Ben return from vacation to some big changes at home. A delicious, yet respectful salute to the troops is devised in the FlowJam. And finally the purpose and importance of Flow in your creative journey is unpacked and explained.Subscribe to The...

read more

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