Posts tagged Healing & Nurturing
A Date with My Creativity
photo by:  Juliana Mariia Rose  

I've recently embarked on the journey of becoming a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach. As part of the training we're given the opportunity to choose and work on our own creative project. I was tempted to pick something that's related to this blog or my YouTube channel, since that's where a big part of my creative focus lies right now. But when I tuned in and listened to my intuition, I realized that something else was asking for my attention. My creativity is flowing beautifully in those areas, so why not focus on something that needs a little more love and care? The truth is, I've allowed acting, one of my other creative passions, to fall to the wayside for the past year, causing quite of a bit of creative turmoil for me. 

So I decided that this was going to be the focus for my creativity project. 

One of the fundamental tenets of the Kaizen-Muse approach is the importance of taking small steps. If we take small steps with our creative projects (or any projects for that matter), we bypass the fear and resistance that might normally lead us to a creative shut-down. 

With this in mind, I decided that not only was I going to take tiny steps to work through my creative project, but I was also going to choose a project that was sufficiently small and non-threatening to begin with. I felt that right now, going on an audition, or even taking an acting class would feel too overwhelming. So I decided to go back to the very basics and work on a monologue. 

This seems like a simple project, but it still held its challenges for me. In the past, whenever I set the intention to work on a new monologue, I found that I became overwhelmed simply by the idea of having to find one. You'd be surprised, finding a play or a script that resonates can be an unexpectedly challenging task. And once you've finally located one, it may not even contain a piece of text that works as a monologue. So yeah, I've always struggled with the whole "having several monologues in your back pocket" thing that you're "supposed to have" as an actor. 

Since I knew that I usually get stuck at this stage in the process, I gave myself a very small, non-threatening first step to work on:

Simply spending five minutes looking at the plays that are already in my bookshelf. 

What unfolded once I carried out this intention was a surprisingly emotion-filled, profound moment for me. Even though it only lasted a few minutes. After I experienced it, I took out my notebook and "stream of consciousness" style wrote out the experience. I feel compelled to share it with all of you, so here it is: 

I was home alone and I had just finished dinner. It was dark outside. Piles of dishes were waiting for me in the kitchen, but something else was calling my attention. Something about this moment felt sacred. So I brought out my favorite reading lamp, placed it by my bookshelf, and rolled out my yoga mat. I also put on this enchanted song that I'd recently discovered*. I let my eyes wonder over my beloved plays. My eyes started to well up with tears as I realized that I already had so many treasures, right here. Some things don't require so much effort, sometimes what we need is right in front of us. I allowed my eyes to continue their wandering until they stopped on "Anna in the Tropics", by Nilo Cruz. I gingerly pulled it out. I first came across this play when I used it for a directing class in college. I've always loved it. At this point, the five minutes had already slipped by. But I was already lost in the lure of my creative momentum. So I decided to sneak in another five minutes. I started combing through the play. Just reading the characters' words started to kindle up a spark within me. The tears from before were now rolling down my cheeks. I invited them in. But I also decided that it was time to step away. Small steps. Baby steps that keep the fear at bay. 

I'm not sure what the theme of today's post is. But I felt compelled to share some of the struggles and challenges I'm facing in my creative work. Just because I've become absorbed in the topic of creativity doesn't mean that everything is rainbows and butterflies and I live in a creative happy place all of the time. And that's ok. That's part of being a human being that's been gifted with the ability to create; an ability that each and every one of us shares.  

I'm also happy to share that I'm slowly and steadily creating a daily habit out of working on my monologue. Just fifteen minutes a day. But fifteen minutes that are giving me a lot. Most importantly, they're allowing me to tend to that part of me that has been yearning to act. And that's important. It's important to listen to that part within us asking for creative expression. 

much love to each & every one of you,

Leah
 

--

* Spiritual by Pat Metheny 

 

Evening Rituals, for a creativity inspiring sleep
photo by:  Ornella Binni

photo by: Ornella Binni

It's always been more challenging for me to master evenings than mornings. I have a tendency to build up a lot of energy throughout the day, so I sometimes have trouble switching gears and winding down in the evening. 

That said, it's much more likely that I'll function at my creative peak after a night of deeply restful sleep. So one of my intentions right now is to make friends with these rituals and commit to them to the best of my ability. 

If you want to check out the video that accompanies this post, click here. 

1) Enjoying a Light & Early Dinner

Even though this can be challenging sometimes (ha, note the theme :P), I'm mindful of enjoying lighter foods and not eating past 7-7:30pm  This way my body can digest before I go to bed, and my organs can focus on repair (vs. digestion) while I'm sleeping; which allows me to feel more deeply rested the next morning. If I still feel a little hungry later on, I'll have a small snack before going to bed. Some of my favorite bed time snacks are: soaked cashews, goat yoghurt, banana or a little bit of nut butter. 

2) Enjoying an Evening Walk

I love taking walks after dinner. This is my GO-TO tool for helping me switch those gears and go into chill-out mode. It also helps me release any additional energy that might still be buzzing in my system. I love inhaling the sweet evening air and looking up at the stars. It's also a lovely opportunity to reconnect with a loved one or a friend if you're taking a walk with someone else. Or with yourself if you're going solo. Note: your evening walk doesn't have to be long to be effective. Even just 15 minutes of basking in the evening glow can work miracles. 

3) Having a Relaxing Cup of Herbal Tea

photo by:  Ornella Binni

photo by: Ornella Binni

Herbal teas really help me tap into a deeper sense of relaxation. I buy a lot of my tea-making herbs in bulk, store them in glass jars, and then pick and choose to make my nightly concoctions. I always make sure to brew my  teas with spring water. Some of my favorite sleepy-time herbs are:

1) Chamomile
Chamomile tea increases the levels of the hormones serotonin and melatonin in your body, which leads to an increased sense of calm. It also soothes your digestive system. (1) 

2) Spearmint
Spearmint supports the digestive system, I love mixing it into my evening tea blends to give my tummy some extra love. 

3) Lemon Verbena
I love the scent of lemon verbena, it's so citrusy and fresh. It also soothes the digestive system and has an overall calming effect on the body. (2) 

4) Lemon Balm
Lemon balm lowers anxiety and has calming benefits that help your body wind down and go to sleep, especially when it's combined with other relaxing herbs like the ones mentioned above. (3) 

5) Linden Flowers
Linden flower tea is known for its potent stress & anxiety reducing properties. It gently affects your hormone levels, leading your body and mind to relax. It also has tummy settling properties. (4)
 

4) Shutting Off Screens 1 Hour Before Bed

 Research has shown that looking at a screen before bedtime prevents your brain from releasing melatonin, which is a key sleep hormone. This one can feel a little challenging at times, but when I switch off all my technology an hour or more before bed, I feel a huge difference in my ability to fall asleep and my quality of sleep throughout the night. As a result, I'll also feel more awake and more alert throughout the next day. 

For anyone interested in reading more about this topic, here are a couple of informative links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/23/reading-before-bed_n_6372828.html
(admittedly, the title of this one is a little extreme, but it's a great article nonetheless =)) 

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-its-bad-to-use-your-phone-before-bed-2015-7

5) Reading an Inspiring Book

I often find that my mind still wants to engage with something before bed, since I'm working on not looking at screens, I opt for reading a book instead. I usually pick something that is inspiring and will fill my mind with good thoughts, so I can fall asleep in that headspace. I just finished reading The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani, which was truly extraordinary. I can already sense how this book will be a real game-changer for me this year. I'll very likely talk about it in future blog posts/videos =) 

photo by:  Annie Spratt

photo by: Annie Spratt

I'm still working on tweaking these practices and am definitely open to learning about new ones that will help me calm down & chill out in the evening. So please share your evening rituals in the comments below =)

Wishing you all nights filled with creativity inspiring sleep.

Much love,

Leah 

--
words: Leah Salinas

Sources
(1) https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/chamomile-tea-benefits-uses.html
(2) https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/lemon-verbena.html
(3) http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lemon-balm
(4) https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/linden.html
(5) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/23/reading-before-bed_n_6372828.html

Creativity on Crappy Days

I'm working on keeping this blog as real time as possible. As I mentioned in my last post, the intensity of René's film project can be felt in our home. In some cases, this has translated into restless nights, sleepless nights or nights spent waking up to 2am emergency phone calls. I'm the kind of creature who functions very poorly when I don't get a good night's sleep. One of my least favorite sensations is feeling tired and moving through my day after a night of less-than-adequate sleep is a real struggle for me. 

When I'm feeling this way it can be very tempting to curl up into a little ball (either literally or metaphorically, depending on where I am at a given moment), abandon all attempts at being creative, and comfort myself with mindless distractions like social media or Netflix. But this approach brings short term fulfillment at best, and I'm still left stuck facing my crappy day. 

Ultimately I know that my real happy place is my creative space. This internal state where my inspiration and ideas flow to me and I mold them into being through my words, my body, or some other medium; depending on what I'm working on at that time. Often times, tapping into this space allows me to move beyond whatever funk I'm feeling. 

So I've come up with some tools & practices that help me find this place, even when my body and my mind want to be elsewhere. Here they are: 

1) Moving Slowly

When I'm not feeling so great, I allow myself to move through all of my daily activities with extra slowness, whether I'm taking a shower or brewing a cup of coffee. Sometimes I'll pair my slow movement with my breath or even get my Ujjayi* or ocean breath on. This sounds a little funny (picture me breathing Darth Vader like while I'm brewing a cup of coffee), and I've definitely gotten a few quizzical looks from the hubby. But it helps me re-center and become more integrated in my body again. When I do this, I kind of feel like I'm meditating or doing yoga, without actually being on my mat or my cushion. 

2) Sipping on Ginger or Peppermint Tea

These are my go-to teas when I'm looking for a reset. Here's a little bit about them: 

Ginger

According to Chinese medicine, ginger restores Yang, or "hot energy" and revs up your circulation (2), making it particularly effective when you're feeling sluggish or stagnant but still want to tap into your creative energy. 

How To Prepare:

Because ginger is a root, ginger tea is prepared by making a decoction. This means that you boil the tea rather than simply steeping it, as you would with teas made using leaves or flowers. Wash a large piece of organic ginger root. Add approx. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped ginger root to 3 cups spring water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for another 15 minutes. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy. This will yield a good-sized batch. If your tea is too strong, you can always dilute it with some water. I like to pour any leftover tea into a jar and store it in the fridge; it's also really yummy chilled! 

Peppermint

Peppermint tea really helps to kick my brain into creative top gear. What I love about peppermint is that it is simultaneously relaxing and focus-boosting. The menthol in peppermint relaxes your muscles, which also leads to overall mental and emotional relaxation. And studies carried out by the University of Cincinnati have found that the scent of menthol stimulates the hippocampus, which is the memory center of the brain (3). 

How to Prepare:

Unlike ginger tea, peppermint tea is prepared by making a infusion: Bring two cups of spring water to boil. Remove from heat. Add either 1/2 cup fresh peppermint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain tea & enjoy the sense of calming focus that'll envelop you! 

3) Soaking up Sunshine

photo by:  Zwaddi

photo by: Zwaddi

The sun is one of my go-to tools when I feel like I need a boost.  Even just five minutes (ideally wearing as little clothing as possible so you can really soak up those rays) can have an immensely energizing and revitalizing effect and can literally transform how you feel for the rest of your day. Check out my Daily Essentials post for some more info on sunshine soaking. 

4) A Little Bit of Movement

Part of getting myself out of whatever funk that I'm in is stirring up, moving around and releasing whatever energy I'm carrying. Even when I'm not in the mood for a full-blown workout, a short walk or some gentle yoga can work wonders. Check out the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube if you're looking for some inspiration, it's one of my faves. 

5) Changing Environments

photo by:  Kris Atomic

photo by: Kris Atomic

I've noticed that my funky feelings tend to spread into my environment. At which point I'll begin to feel like I'm wallowing in a stew of toxic thoughts and low energy. No bueno. When this starts to happen, I know it's time to open those windows, air it out, burn some incense. And, ideally, take it a step further and switch environments altogether. A new environment carries new and fresh energy, which supports the process of getting into a different energetic space internally.  Sometimes I'll treat myself to my favorite coffee shop. Or it can even be something  simpler like running a fun errand like grocery shopping (that is, if grocery shopping is your idea of fun =)). Oftentimes, stepping into a new environment of my choosing, or even just the act of driving or walking there, will make me feel energized and refreshed and eager to delve back into my creative work. 

Now for some words of comfort before I wrap up this post: I've observed that on almost all of my crappy days, the period of crappiness usually intensifies at some point, and then begins to dissipate. At which point i'll begin to feel considerably better. So if you're not feeling so great, remind yourself that this sensation will pass, and that you may emerge from your crappy day feeling even better and more energized than you did before. 

Wishing you all a beautiful day my friends, regardless of whether it's a crappy or a wonderful one.

with love & creativity,

Leah 

--
words: Leah Salinas

sources

(1) If you're curious about learning Ujjayi breath, check out this excellent article
(2) http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-health-benefits-of-ginger-tea
(3) http://www.organicauthority.com/health/5-fantastic-health-benefits-of-peppermint-tea.html

Peppermint Essential Oil

Hey Everyone! Today's recipe for inspiring creativity isn't food related, but yummy nevertheless =) This year, one of my main goals for C&C is to offer you creativity nurturing tools that are simple, accessible and sustainable. Ever since I started making conscious lifestyle changes, I've noticed that the tiny adjustments and incorporations can be just as potent as the bigger ones. That it's about implementing new, small steps every day or every week or every month, and that over time, the tangible, BIG change will begin to make itself felt and noticed.

Right now, one of my fave simple little tools for putting my body & being in a creative & productive state is peppermint essential oil*. This good stuff can be used in a number of different ways, but here's one of my favorite applications:

Peppermint Oil Mini Massage

While washing your hair/head in the shower, mix in 1-3 drops with your shampoo and gently massage into your scalp & neck. Alternately, you can mix in a few drops with your body lotion/oil and massage it into your neck/shoulders/ low back post shower. You'll notice a delicious tingling sensation that can linger for up to half an hour and will make you feel more alert & awake. It's like another cup of coffee in addition to your morning coffee =) 

Peppermint oil is quite potent, so I highly recommend mixing it with either your shampoo, body wash, body lotion or another oil when you apply it to your body. This will also help with spreading it out more easily. Also, be mindful of keeping it out of your eyeballs =) 

Peppermint essential oil is a natural muscle relaxant, so this won't only perk you up, but it'll also reduce any tension you may be holding in certain parts of your body. I've always had a finicky low back and I've noticed that the oil feels really nice on this area. I've also observed that my hair has gotten noticeably thicker and longer since I started this little practice- I'm always on the lookout for ways to enhance my mane, so I was so happy to observe this change taking place!  

If you're curious to learn about more peppermint essential oil benefits & uses, this article by Dr.Axe is a great, very thorough resource: http://draxe.com/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits/

 

Enjoy this little practice and remember that the simple, little things can make a big difference,

with love & creativity,

Leah


*I always prefer buying organic essential oils since these are grown without the use of any chemicals or pesticides. 
 

author: Leah Steiner ~ photos by: Juliana Mariia Rose @jules.m.rose