This blog will discuss the current issues in creativity by the graduate students at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State. www.buffalostate.edu/creativity
The views expressed herein are those of the graduate students and do not necessarily represent the views of the International Center for Studies in Creativity or of any other Buffalo State College body.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Enjoying the Exhale: Breathing in Creativity & Wellness
By: Jennifer Quarrie
“Breathe with unconditional breath the unconditional air.” - Wendall Berry, Given
Life hangs on every breath we take; yet when was the last
time you consciously thought about your breathing?Within every activity you do, breathing plays a critical
role - from speaking and exercise to sleeping and nutrition.What is there to really think
about?The body takes care of
breathing through some ancient autonomic system, so why use precious, limited
thought resources on it when you could spend your energy on more important
Beyond the life-saving
qualities of a good breathing habit, there is much more at work.It turns out that breathing is
foundational to overall wellness in ways we may not have previously
understood.Not only that, but
deliberate, deep breathing also fosters creativity, decision making and other
key cognitive and affective functions.Simply put, improving your breathing is one of the single best practices
you can develop to foster your health and creativity – and here is why.
“It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs alone, but
in point of fact, the work of breathing is done by the whole body.”―Alexander
Lowen, The Voice of the Body
Oxygen - On the most basic level, deep
breathing increases oxygen levels in the blood stream, helping to raise energy,
cell survival and brain function, all of which support creativity.The way we exhale is actually more
critical to getting the oxygen we need and should generally last longer than
- Oxygen is fuel.By taking in
greater amounts, it charges your cells to function more effectively, improves
digestion, and thus improves your metabolism.Increased overall energy means more resources can be
directed towards creative endeavors.
healthful breathing while awake helps keep us alert and focused on important
tasks.During sleep it
significantly improves sleep quality, extends dreaming brain states, supports
neural connections, and facilitates the clean up of toxins in the brain,
bringing clarity to waking cognition and creativity.
& Stress Reduction - Deep breathing lowers
cortisol levels, normalizes blood pressure and stabilizes body rhythms, all of
which foster mental clarity, relax your body, and prime you for creative
Function - Breathing is the best way to
change the pH of your body toward an alkaline state that helps prevent large-scale
disease.By expelling carbon
dioxide from your lungs and breaking down salts, breathing is one of the most
affective ways to eliminate extra harmful acids.Every exhale removes toxins from your body, just one of the
many reasons yogis consider breathing a path to purification.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which
unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use
your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”―Thích
Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the
Practice of Meditation
- Breathing is the primary mode of mental focus in meditation.By calming the body, breathing can
increase the ability to focus attention, which is critical to successful
problem solving and ideation.
- Deliberate, deep breathing can also take focus a step further and assist the
mind in expanding your awareness of yourself and your surroundings.Developing this new consciousness helps
you take in new stimuli, clarify needs, and highlight priorities, all critical
to creative thinking and problem solving.
Emotions - Our emotional states may be
partially predicated on our proactive breathing patterns.Breathing is more shallow when anxious
or depressed.Deeper breathing
promotes positive emotional states and a greater sense of calm, both of which
empower creative thinking through finding the value in ideas and focusing
energy toward problem solving.
- Increased energy from deep breathing directly impacts motivation levels.Motivation is considered one of the only commonalities across all
“I am never alone wherever I am. The air itself supplies me with
a century of love. When I breathe in, I am breathing in the laughter, tears,
victories, passions, thoughts, memories, existence, joys, moments, and the hues
of the sunlight on many tones of skin; I am breathing in the same air that was
exhaled by many before me. The air that bore them life. And so how can I ever
say that I am alone?”―C. JoyBell C.
Taking in the World
- Breathing is a very physical way of connecting with both our environment and
others in it.As Alexander Lowen
says, “we live in an ocean of air,”and
so to breath deeply we immerse ourselves in our environment.Taking this mindful vantage point
prompts us to immerse ourselves more deeply in our surroundings in other ways
as well: noticing things we normally overlook, taking in more information, and
making new connections that prompt creative ideas.
- Given that our emotions build on our breathing patterns, deliberate deep
breathing may increase how positively we experience social interactions,
therein leading to a more positive and less anxious mental state.An affirmative mindset is crucial to
the ability to build on ideas and find creative solutions to problems.The social aspect of our environment is
also especially stimulating and can serve as a wellspring for novel
connections. Further, an increase in positive experiences may lead to an
increase of social interaction over time, therein increasing personal longevity and lifespan.
Breath of Fresh air
Breathing pervades every moment of every day and is an
incredibly healthful habit to consciously develop.Likewise, creativity is omnipresent throughout each day, and
actively fostering the creative mindset expands the quality of each
experience.Weaving these two
deliberate practices together promotes personal wellness on a grander
scale.The bottom line, in both
breathing and creativity, is to stay out of the shallow end - there is benefit
to getting in deep.
And the next time you find yourself waiting for
hold your breath.
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NY: Simon and Schuster.
R., & Kenison, K. (2010). Meditations from the mat: Daily reflections on
the path of yoga. New York, NY: Anchor.
S., & Grof, C. (2010). Holotropic breathwork: A new approach to
self-exploration and therapy. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
M. (2010). Wellness on a shoestring: Seven habits for a healthy life.
Unity Village, MO: Unity House.
Ross, S., & Rosewood, O. (2003). Happy
yoga: 7 Reasons why there's nothing to worry about.
New York, NY: Regan Books.
Bio: Jennifer Quarrie is a dynamic innovation strategist and creativity expert with a visionary outlook and a knack for metacognition, facilitation and listening. With a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia and an MSc in Creative Studies from the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at SUNY Buffalo State, she incorporates budding areas of mind and creativity research into all of her work. As a leader and speaker she inspires wellness, fosters transformation and emboldens self-actualization.