Kleshas and Creativity; and the Importance of Vulnerability

May 31, 2012

I am working toward becoming a yoga teacher. While I am acquiring the necessary funds to pursue this passion of mine, I have been reading Teaching Yoga by Mark Stephens. Last week, I stumbled upon the idea of kleshas, the distractions that clutter the mind. If you would like to read the full quote, see here. As you can see, I’ve made an argument about kleshas and how they pertain to creativity–writing, in particular, as that is my chosen form of artistic expression.

 

The interesting thing about kleshas is that, provided they have a channel, they are directed, acknowledged, resolved, and even put to rest. In our left-brained world of order and organization today, we often don’t allow ourselves the time, room, or weakness to accept and deal with the spare thoughts floating around our skulls. Creativity, I believe, is one such channel. Here are some reasons why:

 

  • Creativity requires use of the right hemisphere of the brain. Even writers, poets, or screenwriters must be able to visualize what they intend to put on paper before it gets written.
  • Creativity invokes the senses in different ways. The eyes, for instance, don’t just see an orange. They see the texture of the peel dancing across the surface of a sphere, and the bright, happy, energetic color that was my dance instructor’s inspiration for her choreographed piece, Spectrum, to Handel’s Water Music.
  • Creativity evokes emotional response. There are days I find myself laughing hysterically or sobbing my heart out while writing. Some find beauty or the grotesque in artwork. Whatever it is, be it revulsion or wonder, artwork draws a response from our emotional side.
  • Highly creative people have a high degree of specialized knowledge, are capable of divergent thinking (which is mediated from their frontal lobe), and are able to modulate neurotransmitters like norepinephrine in their frontal lobe.
  • Use of creativity also increases cognitive flexibility.
  • The experience of creating something enables people to let go of personal baggage, unwanted thoughts, and/or emotional restraint.

 

While there are some great studies out there linking creativity to mental illness, I believe that many of these tendencies are associated with self-perception of acceptance and success, which are caused by imbalances in a person’s personal viewpoints on worthiness. This is why it is equally important to cultivate both hemispheres of the brain with equal intention. In yoga, one way to bring them into harmony is by bringing the hands in Prayer Position. According to many yogis, Prayer Position neutralizes the brain, brings the energies of the creative right and the logical left together (sometimes called “female” and “male” energies), and connects mind with heart, the seat of emotion and intention. This last point is especially true when the forehead is brought to the fingertips.

 

Moreover, I think by involving oneself in a creative pursuit, a person experiences release from the distractions and/or troubles that plague them. I recall taking art class in high school. I recall it being my favorite class, not because it was an easy A and fun; rather, I channeled my energies differently. Thinking back, I often recall leaving that class rejuvenated, ready to tackle my (then) hardest subject, geometry.

 

Rejuvenation: this is the point of mind-body exercise. What better way to experience relaxation, revitalization, and even fulfillment than to take exercise to the mental faculties?

 

And speaking of worthiness, here is a video by Brene Brown on her studies on self-perception, worthiness, and vulnerability:

 

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