I have been lucky enough to be on retreat this past week. Thanks to the Alpine Motel in Arthurs Pass, New Zealand, who offer a week’s free accommodation to one artist each year, I have been able to send a week up in the mountains. It has been a wonderful chance to reset my nervous system to ‘chill out, find inspiration and create’. In this video I am reflecting on the importance of nourishing our nervous systems so that we can be both creative and resilient in our lives.
One way of seeing creativity is that it’s the ability to move beyond our comfort zone to discover what is new and being called into being. If we are lucky and feeling brave enough and emotionally-resourced enough, creativity is a choice we can make in our lives. It’s an intention to do something in a different way - to try something new - to push the boundaries beyond what is our current ‘normal’. Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes and in various contexts: we can be creative in our parenting, in our professional lives, as artists, or even in how we relate to ourselves.
Resilience is also about adapting to a new situation by moving beyond our current window of tolerance. Both creativity and resilience invite us to step outside our normal. In creativity this is a choice. But resilience often comes about as a result of some change caused by external circumstances outside of our control, something we have to respond to rather than a choice we have made. For example - resilience can be caused by the upheaval and even trauma of a job loss, an accident, a global pandemic or even just something like an unexpectedly steep hill.
In either creativity or resilience, our comfort zones are challenged and expand to meet the challenge. But to be willing to step outside our comfort zone, it’s important to have a good strong base to start from. So the work (and play) that we do to nourish our nervous system is very important in our lives. This is what builds safety and flexibility in our comfort zones and develops the capacity for us to expand our windows of tolerance.
So - what do you need to nourish your nervous system? Is it time in the mountains? Is it good food? A bike ride? Going to bed early a few nights a week? What works for you to have fuel in the tank for those challenging times in our lives?