Our environment – our space – has a tremendous effect on how we feel. It can also, as we artists say, have a tremendous effect on the work we produce.
As a painter, my space is as much my emotional environment – or ‘headspace,’ if you will – as it is my physical space. I’m not alone in that.
There are endless studies on how our physical and psychological states can affect productivity. Think of how you feel when you walk into a room filled with colorful, fresh flowers, dreamy sunlight, calming music, or maybe birdsong twittering in from outside.
Feel the lightness, the openness in your chest. Now put yourself in a corridor with that certain someone – you know, the one that triggers you, sucks the energy out of you. Feel a difference?
These sorts of studies, while scientifically sound, often insinuate that there are certain set “molds” of environments that work universally for everyone.
I come at it from a different school of thought. We live in a connected universe but we are also all unique individuals, operating from our own innate talents, comforts, and world views. All individuals have the potential for extraordinary impact in the world – creative or otherwise – but there is no one-size-fits-all workspace that allows everyone to flourish simultaneously.
Here’s my take on that. Why box yourself in? Why worry about finding the ‘right’ set of surroundings based on somebody else’s prescription? Focus on creating an environment that gets you into your flow.’ It’s that magical, other-worldly feeling of utter fluidity and connectedness.
It’s that state of being so deeply enthralled and focused on something that you forget to eat or check how much time has gone by. You’re so fixated on a project that if someone were to tap you on the shoulder, you’d jump.
Flow is one of the most important states to be in if you want to create from a place of wholeness, consciousness, and inner truth. Of course, we all know when we’re inflow. Problem is, we don’t always know how to get there consistently.
So, how do you get into flow? Well, it’s different for everyone. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful. First, you need to work out which environment’ works best for you.
There’s a certain element of trial and error involved. Think of your mind-body as an instrument. What is it telling you?
- Inside or Outside: Test out both, and see how your body reacts. How do you feel? Do you feel open or closed? Do you feel your energies flowing more when you’re outdoors? Does experiencing all the inspiration that nature bringsfire up your creative practice?
- Large or Small: Do you prefer the coziness of a smaller workplace, or do you flourish in a more expansive environment?
- Artificial or Natural Light: If you’ve chosen to work indoors, do you feel a greater sense of mind-power when you can look out a window at the outside world, or does artificial light help you feel more focused? If you’re outside, does an abundance of sunlight feed your creative process, or do you prefer the quieter, more meditative feeling of working in the shade?
- Open or Intricate: Does being surrounded by crowded objects, paintings, and eclectic knick-knacks inspire you? Oris your creativity peaked in a more minimalistic space?
- Understand What Inspires You: What squelches one person’s creative mindset might stimulate someone else’s. We are fundamentally different, and we all source our creative nourishment from a range of different outlets. Bright light and constant noise could fuel one individual’s capacity to create, while another might see it as distracting.
Using your environment to reach the flow state is a matter of getting to the crux of how your body and mind reacts to what’s around you. At the end of the day, we are all looking to be safe.
This is especially crucial in the time of COVID-19 when “safe” feels like a thing of the past. You can have all the originality and innovation in the world, but if you don’t feel safe and comfortable enough to express your inner truths, they’ll either be expressed disingenuously or they won’t be expressed at all.
Remember: you are an instrument of consciousness. Feel how your body reacts to certain environments, and make the necessary choices for what works for you. Find what makes you feel safe, and then you will feel yourself flow.