Updated: May 27
Let’s start here: You are a creator.
Every time you solve a problem, use your imagination, express an idea, opinion, thought, or desire, you are creating. Period.
And as a creator, you are a powerful antenna for inspiration and innovation. But in order to receive the messages that are trying to get through, you need to keep that antenna unencumbered, in proper working order, and pointed in the right direction.
Just as every creator has experienced the magic of inspiration, we’ve also experienced it’s opposite: creative blockage.
You know the feeling. It’s that beat-your-head-against-the-piano frustration, when the ideas just aren’t flowing and the act of creation feels like such an unbearable slog that you wonder how you ever managed it before, and even begin to doubt if you’ll ever manage to do it again.
That feeling isn’t just a sign, it’s a giant, blinking, neon billboard that you are out of alignment with your creative source. Something, somewhere in one of your many interrelated life support systems, is blocking the flow of energy from the wellspring of inspiration.
This holistic checklist is designed to help you not only identify and remove existing blockages, but proactively prevent future blockages from occurring -- not just creatively, but in all areas of your life!
For the sake of clarity, I’ve separated the checklist into 5 sections: physical hygiene, emotional hygiene, mental hygiene, spiritual hygiene, and devotional practice and ritual. But the truth is that all of these areas are deeply interconnected, so positive practices in one area will positively impact all the others, and vice versa.
You can get a handy PDF checklist-only version, along with video versions of some of the exercises mentioned, when you opt in to Club Muse.
Your body can be a powerful receiver, or a record player stuck in a loop. This section will help you get back into the groove and get inspiration flowing to and through you. Because if you’re not creating what only you can create, the world will not have it. And that is truly tragic.
Basic physical needs
Adequate rest & food
Check in with your body. Are your basic needs taken care of?
If you’re hungry or tired, you’re not going to do your best creative work. Have a healthy snack (fruits & veggies, beans & grains, nuts & seeds), or a nap, or both.
Make sure you’re well hydrated. Invest in a water bottle you actually enjoy drinking from, and fill it with spring water, not just tap water, or even filtered or distilled water (which robs you of important nutrients). Keep it within reach throughout the day.
Experiment with other forms of healthy hydration. Try drinking herbal tea, coconut water, or fresh-pressed juice. Hydration shouldn’t have to be a chore, it should be a treat!
Beyond the basics
Move your body
You don’t need to be an athlete to stay unblocked, but some kind of physical movement is essential to keep creation energy flowing through your body.
Stretch. Do some yoga. Dance. Dance in slow motion. Do some calisthenics. Go for a walk (in nature if possible). Go for a run. Or a hop. Or a skip. Or a sashay. Whatever makes you feel alive.
Try some different breathing techniques. Some, such as deep breathing from the diaphragm, and circular breathing, can help relax you and relieve anxiety. Others, such as “power breathing” (Wim Hof, prana, breath of fire, Lion’s breath, etc.), can help energize and motivate you.
Try this short power-breathing exercise whenever you need an energy boost:
Sit in a comfortable position
Take a deep belly breath in (fill your belly up with air before you fill up your chest) on a count of six, and breathe out on a count of six. Repeat three times.
Then go double time: breathe in on a count of three, and out on a count of three, this time for 6 repetitions.
Then go down to just one beat per breath. Take in as much air as you can in a single count, and exhale as deeply as you can in one count. Repeat 6-9 times, or until you start to feel a touch lightheaded. This will feel a bit like panting.
Finally, take a nice, deep breath in and out at whatever pace feels comfortable.
Repeat as many times as needed until you feel energized and rarin’ to go.
Play with things like unusual textures and alternating temperatures. Take a hot bath. Take a cold shower. Take a hot bath followed by a cold rinse. Different temperatures release different chemicals in your body, so experiment and see what works best to snap you out of a funk.
Connect through contact
Practice self-touch. Explore your body and what brings you pleasure. Masturbate shamelessly. Hug or snuggle with a person or a stuffy or a pillow. Get a massage if you can. Enjoy that beautiful body of yours and feel gratitude for the pleasure it can bring you!
Staying aware of and taking good care of your physical needs will not only keep your inspiration antenna in proper working order, it will help you reconnect to the powerful creative tool that is your body.
One of the most common forms of blockage is emotional. When an uncomfortable feeling gets stuck and plays on repeat, it can feel like there’s a cloud of dissonant static following us everywhere we go, blocking out every other signal. This section will help you not only recognize and process those feelings, but replace them with more conduc(t)ive emotions moving forward.
Basic emotional needs
Feel your feelings
Name your feelings
Process your feelings
Feel your feelings
First, simply check in with your feelings. Ask yourself: how do I feel? And then take the time to feel the answer.
Name your feelings
See if you can name the emotions you’re experiencing.
Sometimes what you’re feeling is very obvious, but other times it can take a while to discover what’s really going on. Often the emotions closest to the surface (anger, boredom, numbness, etc.) are actually covering up deeper, trickier emotions (hurt, fear, grief, etc.).
If you’re not quite sure how you feel:
Try doing a body scan to find areas of tension, which can be an indicator of unprocessed emotions.
Lie down in a quiet, comfortable place, and take a few deep breaths
Envision a ball of white light above you
See the light going into your feet, at the heel, and then rising slowly upward with each breath in
Everywhere the light touches, try to relax that area completely
Notice any areas where you were holding tension in your muscles, particularly areas that resist relaxing even when the light passes through them
Try simply asking yourself directly what it is you’re feeling and see what your gut response is.
Look in the mirror, and describe the person you’re looking at as you would a stranger on the bus. How do you think they’re feeling right now?
Process your feelings
Once you’ve named the emotions you’re experiencing, it’s time to process them.
By process, I do NOT mean analyze them in terms of why they’re there or what to do about them. You can’t think your way out of your feelings. You’ve got to feel your way through.
Begin by simply acknowledging the feeling and welcoming it in.
Yes, you read that right. Welcome the feeling in, whatever it is.
Whether you’re feeling giddy anticipation or murderous rage, that feeling is here to help and protect you, and deserves to be embraced.
Besides, what you resist persists, so the more you fight against an emotion, the more energy you feed it to fight you back with.
To illustrate, here’s the basic transcript of a conversation with a client, a brilliant entrepreneur, who had come to me in the grips of paralyzing anxiety around their latest endeavor.
Client: I can’t stop worrying. I keep envisioning everything that could go wrong. I know it isn’t productive, but the more I try to ignore it, the stronger it comes back.
Me: Like when a little kid wants your attention, and just gets louder and more annoying until you finally stop what you’re doing and listen?
Client: Yes! Exactly like that.
Me: Well, have you tried shutting up and listening for a minute?
Me: I mean, what do you think that anxious voice in your head is trying to get you to understand?
Client: Hmmm. I guess… that things probably won’t go perfectly smoothly? Problems are bound to come up.
Me: And why do you think it wants you to understand that?
Client: So that I can be prepared for them. Because I really want this to succeed.
Me: That sounds pretty helpful to me.
Client: Huh. Good point.
Your feelings are here to help you. The harder you try to prevent them from doing what they came to do, the louder and more disruptive they will become.
Instead, simply ask the feeling why it’s here.
Is it trying to protect you from something? To defend an important boundary? To help you heal from trauma? To express love that doesn’t know where to go?
If your gut response is that the feeling is here to encourage you to take so