, Thanks to the support of my spiritual director, I've found great help in understanding myself as one who identifies as an Enneagram Four. The Enneagram is a fantastic tool for self-discovery and has helped me claim and lean into my type. We are known as the "Individualist" or the "Romantic," and are characterized by our deep emotions, introspection, and desire for authenticity.
If you have not already guessed, we Fours thrive on creativity and emotional depth (which I believe makes for a great writer and spiritual director). However, the journey can sometimes feel lonely, and it is indeed challenging at times. On Sunday at worship, a friend asked me how I keep my creative juices flowing for the podcast, books, and other teachings. I told her I could not help it! My brain overflows with creative juices and ideas - more than I can manage. This exchange was after I had written about 10,000 of the 35,000 words for my next manuscript. My fingers cannot always move fast enough to capture everything in my mind. I have paused at 10,000 words because I need time to process and embody what I have written and ponder with God what will be written next.
This got me thinking; I could share tips to help others lean into their creative sides. So here are some tips offering inspiration for your creative inspiration:
As Enneagram Fours, we find solace in solitude. Quiet time is when our creativity can flourish. Get away, take a retreat, or create a dedicated space for yourself at home, whether it's a cozy corner of your bedroom or a spot in your backyard. Allow yourself regular introspection, contemplation, and times of self-reflection, as these moments often ignite the spark of inspiration! Prioritizing solitude is a must if you want to foster your creativity. I'm an extroverted contemplative Four, so this complicates matters! The hardest part is breaking away, befriending myself, and calming my mind, but it is worth it!
Seek Inspiration Everywhere:
Look beyond conventional sources for inspiration. Explore various art forms, music, books, and movies that both challenge you and resonate with your emotions. Engage with diverse cultures, explore nature, and immerse yourself in experiences stimulating ALL your senses. Pick up a very different kind of book or play music from a playlist you have never heard. Take a hike and look for interesting things that capture your attention. Ignite your own creativity as you savor and enjoy the creativity of others and God's creation!
As Fours, our creativity stems from the depths of our emotions. We can often talk about deep things quickly with others. Vulnerability is a gateway to true authenticity, but it is not easy or natural and takes some practice. Allow yourself to be seen and heard, even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable. Express your thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way that works best for you, understanding that your unique perspective holds immense value.
Creativity often comes hand in hand with self-doubt. Hello, Imposter Syndrome! Be gentle with yourself during moments of uncertainty or creative blocks. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that these challenges are part of the creative process. They actually HELP with what is coming next so try not to fight the pause that comes with creative blocks. Treat yourself with kindness, celebrate small victories (like 10,000 words!), and allow for rest and rejuvenation.
Engage with Like-Minded Souls:
Though we may cherish solitude, connecting with like-minded individuals can provide invaluable support. Seek out creative communities, workshops, or online spaces where you can share your work and ideas. Engaging with other creatives who understand and appreciate your unique perspective can be an incredible source of inspiration and encouragement.
Move Your Body:
Engaging in physical activity, whether dancing, biking, practicing yoga, or walking, boosts your energy levels and promotes mental clarity. When active, your body increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, improving cognitive function and enhancing creativity. I firmly believe that movement (large or small) fuels creativity!
What inspires you on the creative journey? Write about it, think about it, or share it with us so we can be inspired too.
People think that because I often appear calm or peaceful, that is my natural inclination. But that is not true (ask my family)! Finding peace takes a lot of practice.
I began exploring Christian Meditation after my health crisis in my early 30s (17 years ago). My meditation practice today does not typically look like sitting on a pillow in the corner of a candle-lit room (although that is fun too). I often meditate in my bed, in my car (see my Instagram post this week), on my couch, on my yoga mat, or outside under a tree.
A lot of people find meditation to be an intimidating practice. For Christians, it can even be scary. But it does not need to be intimidating or scary. If prayer is talking to God then meditation is simply quieting our minds and listening to God. And, I long to listen to God whenever possible!
The practice of listening to God through meditation helps us find inner stillness. We are not striving for anything at all, we are simply sitting in God's presence and giving ourselves a break from thinking. Meditation quiets our minds, even if getting there feels loud and noisy.
Meditation is beneficial at any time of day but I find a morning meditation sets the tone for my entire day. Before the "doing" of the day begins, I simply get to "be" with God. It's a great way to cultivate peace of mind, better relationships, self-esteem, clarity, and presence in all that is ahead. There are so many scientifically proven benefits to meditation, I cannot list them all in this post.
Let's just say the benefits of meditation are worth the 10-20 minutes it costs me in the morning. The world moves at a fast pace, and most of us face stress and pressure daily. While we cannot avoid life's circumstances, we can face them with the best version of ourselves - with calm minds and peace in our hearts. Meditation helps cultivate these.
Ready to get started or re-started? Here are 7 tips for finding inner stillness through meditation:
I hope these tips help you find inner stillness. And if you're seeking further companionship in meditation, remember the Exploring Peace Meditations podcast is a great tool when you're feeling stuck or need some companionship.
What's your favorite place to meditate?
I've been working on something exciting while patiently waiting to share it with you. Finally, the title of my Advent devotional for 2022 is available to share!
Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Advent Devotional for the Whole Self
Ah, this captures the invitation of an embodied journey with the embodied Christ! Each week of this devotional provides prompts for using your whole self to meet God as you prepare to receive the hope, peace, joy, and love the Advent season offers you.
This book, published by Upper Room Books, will be available in plenty of time for Christmas 2022. Most exciting, an e-course option from the publisher will be available. That means they are recording bonus content for me to share with you, and you (or your small group) can journey through the book with ME. But if you want the behind-the-scenes scoop all along the way next year, be sure to join our new online community. I'll share the details there first as we prepare to release this new content and experience for Christmas next year.
Thanks for celebrating this new release with me and make plans now to journey with me toward Christmas 2022!
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC