Category Archives: Mindfulness

Slow down and find contentment in the moment, just as it is. Learn more about meditation, getting out in to nature, paying attention and mindful movement.

Daily Creativity: Part 5 – A Slow Experiment

Wang Xi

What an unexpectedly beautiful ride this month of daily creativity has been! In today’s poggie Ben and I wrap up our May experiment with a recap of our own efforts and realisations, as well as a whole heap of fascinating research in to the benefits (both obvious and not-so-obvious) of cultivating a daily creative practice.

I began this experiment with a particular creative output in mind (starting a novel for 8-12 year olds) but have delighted in the way my practice has evolved as I’ve begun to let go of perfection, expectations and particular outputs. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve moved away from writing the story down, instead choosing to make it up it chapter-by-chapter every night as I put the kids to bed. And can I tell you, that shift has been both challenging and liberating.

Some nights I’ve got the goods and will lay next to the kids for half an hour, building and weaving a new world for all of us to explore. Other nights it comes slow and clunky, and I find myself asking for their ideas to fill some of the gaping holes in my story. And while I used to think that was a failing on my part (if I can’t do it perfectly straight away then what’s the point?) but this experiment has shown me that the benefits of creativity are rarely attached to the final outcome. Instead, daily creativity has seen me increase my compassion and empathy, feel more playful and content, and I’ve rediscovered the joy of process over product.

These benefits are reflected in the research into the benefits of creativity, and Ben and I spend the rest of the episode diving in to what those benefits are and why they’re so important. The ones that blew my mind most of all:

  • drawing, painting, sculpting and expressive writing have all been proven to help people deal with and process different kinds of trauma, by allowing them to access and express emotions that can be difficult to articulate otherwise
  • writing by hand can help boost memory and effective learning (as opposed to typing, which doesn’t have the same impact)
  • play-acting or theatresports can lead to improved psychological wellbeing, problem-solving and word recall, with the benefit lasting up to four weeks
  • expressive writing can help with chronic pain management
  • music therapy has been proven to boost the immune system in some participants, as well as change and improve responses to stress
  • expressive writing has also been linked to the increased production of a white blood cell called the CD4+ lymphocyte, which is key to a well-functioning immune system (or put another way: writing actually helps our bodies build a stronger immune system…)

Now I don’t know about you, but this list of benefits blows my mind. To see not only that creativity can help us to feel better emotionally, but is also good for us physically is just incredible and is certainly not something I expected when we started the experiment a few weeks ago.

But like so many elements of slow living, we now find that there is a strong thread that connects so many parts of life: Creativity impacts our mental health. Walking in nature can help us fight off a virus. Deep breathing can reduce stress. Sharing a kindness with a stranger can increase our sense community. The more we experiment, the more connections we discover and the more convinced I am that slowing down and learning to live more intentionally really can help us change the world.

Now, if that sounds a little too lofty for you (perhaps you’re thinking, “I don’t even have time for five minutes of creativity, I don’t think I can manage changing the world!”) we also round out today’s episode with a list, courtesy of Psychology Today, of ways to incorporate creativity in to your daily life, no additional time or equipment necessary:

  • if you find yourself disagreeing with someone, choose to respond in the exact opposite way you normally would and see if the shift in perspective changes things
  • take a different route to work
  • spend time daydreaming and see if it allows you to reframe a problem you’re trying to solve
  • get ahead on a project you’re working on, and avoid the creativity vampire that is deadline procrastination
  • think about a problem you’re trying to solve before going to bed, and let your brain churn it over while you sleep

We’ve loved watching your #slowexperiment posts on Instagram this month (so many delicious cakes and gorgeous gardens!) and would love to know how you found the experiment. Did you discover, or re-discover, a creative passion? Did you unlock an unexpected benefit of creative time? Did you struggle with perfectionism or playfulness?

In the meantime, enjoy the episode and, as always, thank you for listening.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Daily Creativity: Part 4 – A Slow Experiment

rawpixel

One of the things I’ve struggled with for many years (all the years maybe?) is play. To allow myself to let go, get silly, not worry about the optics or the outcome or the why of what I’m doing, and just tap in to the playfulness of the moment.

Ben and I recorded a month-long experiment back in 2016 where we tried to play every day, and it was both wonderful and difficult. I’m not sure if it’s the perfectionistic tendencies I’ve had since I was a kid, or if it’s fear of looking silly or making a mistake, or even simply a lack of practice, but I found it really challenging.

This months’s daily creativity experiment is proving much the same as over the past four weeks I’ve had to learn to let go of the end product and learn to enjoy playing around in the process. Unlike the play experiment, however, this time I feel like I’ve finally figured out why it’s important to simply play around. It’s not so that I can ‘achieve’ playfulness or get that giddy high I sometimes get when playing hide and seek or sketching something random that caught my eye, but so that my brain can revel in the unstructured. So that I can roll around in ideas and playfulness and be free to connect dots in more creative ways…or not.

Letting go of outcome is undoubtedly a challenge for many of us in a world that is transfixed by product and end result (and the quicker the better thankyouverymuch) but what I’ve realised this month is that forgetting about output and audience, and doing something just for the joy of it is a challenge worth exploring.

In today’s poggie Ben and I talk about our creative practice over the past week, and I share specifically how I’ve been practicing playfulness and perfectionism. And here’s a hot tip for you: off-the-cuff story-telling is a great way to let go of being good.

We talk about the notion of self-worth and why it’s been important for me to acknowledge and shift my view of my own worth in order to let go of some of the perfectionism I’ve carried around, which brings us to the idea of courage and creativity and why I think the two are closely intertwined. It turns out that letting go of output, turning inwards and simply revelling in the process of creating brings us closer to our own struggles, fears, beliefs and judgements, and by choosing to obsess over the end result, we can keep those things at a distance. When we let go of those fears and judgements, even for a few moments a day, we are being courageous. We are learning to be honest with ourselves. We are fully embracing what it is to be whole and flawed and human, and while it’s challenging, I truly believe it’s so worthwhile.

I know many of you also struggle with playfulness and letting go of the end result (the emails and messages we received after the play experiment back in 2016 are a testament to that) so this week we’d love to offer up a little challenge – if you struggle with playfulness, try setting an alarm and spending 10 minutes doing something fun and playful. Simply let go of judgment and try to find the joy in the challenge. It might take some practice, but as someone who struggles with play I’ve never once regretted making the time for it.

We round out today’s episode with a quick book tour update too. It’s getting closer now, and I think we should be able to share the majority of our itinerary with you next week!

In the meantime, enjoy your week and here’s to more play!

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Daily Creativity: Part 3 – A Slow Experiment

Sticker Mule

“The notebook is the place where you figure out what’s going on inside you or what’s rattling around. The keyboard is the place that you go to tell people about it.” — Austin Kleon in Episode 5 of Hurry Slowly

Are you a pencil and paper kinda person? Or someone who gets their creative juices flowing when they’re tapping away on their computer? Do you like old-school vinyl or are you a digital music fiend? Or, perhaps, like most people, a little of both?

In today’s episode Ben and I dive deep in to a topic I’ve been excited about since beginning the experiment: analog vs digital – which is better for creativity?

Before we get in to it, Ben and I talk about our experiences over the past week, as we’re now more than halfway through this month’s daily creativity Slow Experiment, and this week has brought some really interesting lessons for me personally, as well as what feels like a huge shift in the way I’m solving problems. I’ve found myself focusing more on the process rather than the output, my empathy has stepped up another level as I’ve been able to view things from different perspectives (particularly those of my kids) and excitingly, questions I’ve been pondering for months suddenly have clear solutions. This creativity thing has bigger benefits than I’d imagined!

If you’re subscribed to the Slow Post you may know that Ben’s challenge this week was to do something creative for himself, without an audience, and in this poggie he shares how he’s played around with skiing switch (backwards) and reflects on the joy of truly sucking at something.

Ben also identifies some of the different ways we can categorise creativity (cognitive v emotional and deliberate v spontaneous) and we share our experiences of each of these modes so far, before diving in to the big question of today’s episode:

Analog vs digital: which is better for creativity?

As a staunch advocate for pencil and paper, I’m not going to lie. I was hoping for a unanimous “analog rules” verdict in my research. It would make things so much easier! Instead what I found was that there really is no right or wrong. Our personal preference towards analog or digital is actually closely tied to how we best learn, and the truth is that everyone could probably benefit from dabbling in both means of creative expression.

We discuss handwriting, Austin Kleon’s wonderful dual-desk system, note-taking on a computer vs by hand, and the current hypothesis on why some people find creative thinking difficult to do while typing (hello, me!) and others who don’t find it tough at all (hello, Ben!) in this episode. There’s a lot of juicy ideas in here that may just help you unlock the daily creative practice, or at least begin to understand your personal tendencies towards digital or analog.

If you’re getting creative with us this week, why not try mixing it up again? If you’re always in analog-land, why not try creating using digital this week, and vice versa – if you’re a tech-head, why not try something a little more tactile?

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #slowexperiment on Instagram if you’d like to share, and stay tuned for next week’s episode all about letting go of ideas of “good” and “perfect” and getting back to creating, just for the sake of creating.

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Daily Creativity: Part 2 – A Slow Experiment

Philipp Lublasser

“This is what slow is. It’s about diving deep. It’s about asking questions, if even the answers that we find out about ourselves aren’t ones that we love.”

Welcome to the second episode of this month’s slow experiment, where Ben and I are aiming to do something creative every day throughout May.

The last week has been really interesting for both of us and in today’s poggie we dive in to the patterns we’ve seen emerging in our own creative efforts and the changes we’ve each experienced, even in such a short period of time.

So far the experiment has had a bigger impact on my headspace than I expected, as it’s begun opening me up to see more creative opportunities in my days – problem-solving, parenting, the perspective with which I view the world.

We also dig deep in to the question of who, exactly, we’re creating for. I guess another way of saying that is we’re trying to figure out our Why of creativity. Because as people who both, at least in part, work creatively in their day-to-day jobs, we’ve discovered that it’s hard to remove the idea of creating for an audience from our efforts. Thinking about the end result or the output is ingrained in our thinking, and the frustration I’ve come up against every day is that this results-oriented approach stops me from creating with complete, playful abandon.

Ben talks a lot about the value of slowing down our creative efforts, which flies in the face of today’s hustling, deadline-driven world. Very rarely are we allowed to let creativity take time. Very rarely are we encourage to let go of our need to reach a deadline, and simply allow a solution take shape over days, weeks or even years. Again, the lesson here is learning to focus more on the process and less on the output.

So in the spirit of our discoveries this week, we’re going to try and mix it up and would love you to try too. If you’ve been creating just for you, try sharing your work – it doesn’t have to be online, you can just show a loved one. Or, if you’ve been creating with an audience in mind, this week try doing something just for you. Notice if and how this impacts the process and let us know!

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #slowexperiment on Instagram if you’d like to share, and stay tuned for next week’s episode all about analog vs digital in creativity.

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Daily Creativity: Part 1 – A Slow Experiment

Kris Chin

“Everyone has the ability to think creatively, to view things through a different lens, to take things from a different perspective. And that to me is creativity.”

Welcome to May, and welcome to the next Slow Experiment of 2018!

March’s nature experiment was such an incredibly transformative experience that inspired so much change not only in myself, but also in lots of our wonderful listeners, so I’m equal parts excited and nervous to share this month’s theme with you. (Though if you listened to last week’s hostful episode you will have heard us talk about it a little already).

This month we’re experimenting with daily creativity, and I’m excited to share it with you because increased creativity was one of the biggest and most surprising benefits of our nature experiment in March and I think there’s so many common elements between slow living and creative living. But I’m also nervous about it because there is often resistance when people hear the word “creativity”. And that resistance often looks like one of these:

  • “I’m not a creative person. I can’t draw or write or sculpt or knit!”
  • “I don’t have time to be creative.”
  • “I used to be creative, before life got busy/the kids were born/work took up all my free time.”

And I get it. Even as someone who writes for a living, I often don’t feel very creative. “Be creative” feels like an additional item to add to the list of things I “should” be doing in order to live a well rounded life. But the more time we spend exploring slow living and all her elements, the more I realise that creativity is vital and it also has nothing to do with arts and crafts. It’s simply about encouraging thought, mindfulness and play, and by redirecting our focus, even for just a few minutes a day, to look at things a little differently. Which really, is what slow living is all about too.

So how do you join in? The good news is there are no hard and fast rules. This is an experiment, and all we encourage you to do is aim to do some kind of creative practice every day. It can be a specific creative project, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s more about approaching life through a more creative lens, rather than having an agenda or making anything for a specific audience (more on that next week). It might mean simply approaching an everyday task like getting dressed or making dinner as a creative act, rather than a chore. Or it might mean writing, sculpting, knitting, singing – whatever it is, it doesn’t have to look the same every day, it just has to happen.

Which brings me to the other side of resistance: time.

If you feel like you don’t have time to be creative, I’d recommend doing a brief audit of your daily inputs (e.g. social media, news websites, podcasts etc) and asking yourself if they fuel creativity or not. Then pick one, and swap out the time you’d normally spend doing it with a form of creative output for the month, and see how you go.

It doesn’t need to be hard or exciting or Instagrammable, honestly. Just creative. And if you’re still stuck for ideas there are some out-of-the-box suggestions on this month’s downloadable PDF, which you can find here.

So how will you flex your creative muscle? We can’t wait to see – if you’re playing along and feel like sharing, don’t forget to use the hashtag #slowexperiment on Instagram. And in the meantime, enjoy your creative play!

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!