Find your motivation and boost your energy levels with these ancient tools and techniques.
Every writer and artist has days where their drive dips or motivation flags a little, when instead of being filled with creative splendour, they find themselves creatively stuck, unable to express much less motivate that expression. If struggling to find that discipline or drive, attending to the following ancient healing techniques can help you find your motivation, and increase your energy.
No matter the medium, finding the motivation to create — and keep creating — is, of course, essential. Yet for many writers and artists two of the greatest obstacles to creating are procrastination and a lack of motivation. Your inner artist longs to be free, to write, to create, which is after all why you are so drawn to this process, even if unable to begin that process but that is exactly what these tools offer you.
Martial Arts Technique for Motivation
This martial arts technique and is very effective when you feel your motivation or commitment waning and need a little boost:
- Stand with your legs far apart and knees softly bent (never take your knee past your ankle to prevent injury).
- Then curling each hand into a fist, drum up and down your thighs, hard enough to stimulate the meridians and blood flow (obviously, not so hard you hurt yourself).
- Gradually move from the inside of both thighs, over the top, and the outside, then repeat up to nine times.
- Once you finish, become aware of the sensation of chi releasing and circulating around your body, then allow it to settle and collect behind your navel. Although I’ll expand more on this, the idea in the ancient Taoist healing arts, is to always store your chi in an area called the [lower] Tan Tien, which is about three or four finger widths below your navel.
Rub Your Kidneys for Willpower, Drive & Fearless Focus
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), practicing this ancient Taoist technique daily is good for relieving fatigue, increasing will, and drive, overcoming fear, and also relieving back ache.
It is often used to ‘warm the kidneys’ after a session of Chi Kung. According to TCM, it’s especially useful in the winter when the ‘water’ element associated with the kidneys and bladder is at its most vulnerable.
How to do it: Making a fist, rub with both hands vigorously over the kidney area. Along with the kidneys, there are two acupressure points that are stimulated as you do this: Bladder 23 and Bladder 47. These points are good for relieving fatigue, overcoming resistance to a project or action, creative or otherwise, and benefit your entire being. Practice it every morning, or for a boost to your overall wellbeing, do it three times a day for two months.
Ear Acupressure for Motivation
If you are feeling displaced, spaced out — and lacking in motivation because of this — try this auricular therapy acupressure point. The Heavenly Gate point or Shen Men, is wonderful for wellbeing in general, and rebalancing to your entire being.
This heavenly acupressure point behaves much like its counterpart on the wrist and brings your spirit back into your body. A phrase often heard in T’ai Chi is draw down chi from Heaven and up from Earth. This point brings heavenly energy into your body for healing. It is fantastic to use if feeling ungrounded or disconnected, to return your spirit to your body and find motivation and focus.
It is also useful in healing addiction, reducing pain and inflammation, increasing energy flow, improving immunity, and calming the sympathetic wing of the nervous system, helping to reduce overwhelm and stress.
- Shen Men is found almost in the centre, upper third of the ear, just a little way forward, in the dip.
- Massage this point gently between your index finger and thumb, making little circles. Do so on both ears, for a couple of minutes. Repeating this daily is healing for your overall wellbeing.
Acupressure for Motivation & Energy
For a quick mental pick-you-up, use your right (or left, if left-handed) forefinger and thumb pinch your nose at the top. Hold for 3 seconds, then release. Repeat 6 times to ease mental tiredness.
Inspiration and motivation can be far more elusive if low on energy. If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself because you are too tired or feeling lethargic, fusing the two energising acupressure points, Liver 3 and Stomach 36, always delivers a welcome boost of energy.
Liver 3 is found on top of each foot, where the tendons that run from between your big toes meet. Press here for two minutes on each foot for a swift pick-me-up.
- Then, making your hands into fists, rub the outside of your shin beneath your knee for about a minute. Stomach 36 was always used before battle in ancient China for the increased stamina and energy-boost it brings.
- Both Liver 3 and Stomach 36 relieve fatigue, tiredness, increase vitality, and can help you motivate yourself whether creating or embarking on any other endeavour.
Drum the Skull to Wake-Up Your Brain
Another ancient Taoist technique, known as ‘beating the heavenly drum’ or ‘sound the heavenly drum’ (Ming Tian Gu), is amazing for waking up your brain and stimulate your thinking processes. Although I’ve mentioned it before in this post, adding it here too as it’s such a powerful tool for when you feel your energy or concentration flagging, causing a dip in your motivation. Beating the drum clears the mind, wakes up the brain and enhances your cognitive faculties.
- Relax your shoulders and cover your ears with your palms, with the middle fingers touching the base of the skull on the area known as the ‘Jade Pillow’, which is the cavity area under the external occipital protuberance. The heavenly drum means the head, while the Jade Pillow (Yu Zhen) is the name of a cavity located on the back of your head under the protruding ridge of bone.
- Place your index fingers on your middle fingers and snap them down with force, hitting your head, roll all over the rear of your skull and ‘drum’ with your fingers, generating a drumming sound in the brain cavity.
- When you do this exercise, do not let your ring and pinkie fingers touch your head as it will muffle the sound. Instead focus on the sound, and allow each beat bring your attention more fully to the vibrations in your skull and brain.
- When you are finished, take your hands off your ears and enjoy feeling like you just woke up refreshed and ready to work.
Stretch Your Body
It’s hard to feel filled with passion for a project when your body is exhausted or tight and stiff. Loosening and lengthening your muscles – while breathing deep into each stretch – benefits your entire being, Stretching is one of the easiest ways to release tension, and increase energy.
Just a few minutes will loosen your muscles, ease joints and allow blood to flow more easily around your body, which benefits your creativity and focus too. “Stretching each day will provide the perfect pick-me-up because it improves your blood circulation, which increases your energy level, helping you to reduce any lethargy,” says personal trainer, Nicki Waterman.
When you loosen those muscles, stretch and breathe deeply into them — oxygenating your body and releasing tension — you’ll find it has a positive effect on your creativity, and your motivation too.
Try This Chi Kung Energiser
This simple Chi Kung technique boosts energy levels and unblocks imbalances by stimulating all of your meridians:
- Tap all over your head with your fingertips.
- Now stroke the inside of each arm, from armpit to fingertips, and then on the outside, from fingertips to shoulders.
- Tap the centre of your chest and then run your fingertips down your breastbone.
- Pat your hips and brush down the outsides of your legs, pass your hands over your feet and then continue up the insides of the legs.
- Repeat up to eight times.
Try This Yoga Asana for Instant Energy
The body is designed to move, and unless moved regularly, it isn’t only our physical state that suffers but our drive and motivation too. It can stagnate our thinking processes, make us far less likely to feel and find our passion for a project, and of course do the work.
If you are blessed with the use of your legs: Run. Walk. Swim. Hike. Climb trees. Move. Exercise is one of the finest ways of all to ensure you’re filled with energy. I loved running. It’s the most freeing, joyful thing. Yoga too is incredibly energising. For a simple and swift instant pick-me-up, try this asana (you may also enjoy these yoga asanas for writers and artists):
The Downward-Dog — is one of the most energising of all yoga asanas, and ideal if you only have time to pause for a single asana.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart, your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs straight.
- Press your palms and fingers flat into the ground.
- Imagine you’re trying to push the floor apart between your hands and feet. It can help to have an instructor guide you or use a mirror to check your technique.
- Hold this position while breathing smoothly, gently, evenly.
- If you regularly practice yoga, you can increase the strengthening benefits by raising your leg (never go beyond what is comfortable for you personally), and holding that position, then repeating with the other leg.
Eat. Drink. Create.
To feel filled with enough energy to motivate yourself, your body needs a steady stream of nutrients to be nourished and maintain balanced blood sugar levels. The dip of which tends to be the reason for low or erratic energy. Try these tips to ensure it’s more consistent:
- Drink plenty of pure, plastic-free water.
- Always eat breakfast.
- Eat a varied, colourful, natural and whole-food diet.
- Ensure you eat every three to four hours or several small meals a day to regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels consistent.
- Adding a little protein to every meal slows down the release of sugars, so you feel fuller for longer and also ensuring blood sugar levels stay even too.
- Keep a selection of healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
Certain foods are ideal for alleviating a dip in energy and consequently your motivation for a project. See this post for a list of energy foods and other natural ways to keep you filled with energy. Alleviate tiredness or energy slumps with high-protein snacks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, such as:
- Avocado (essential fats, vitamin E) on rice cakes with sprinkled sesame seeds (magnesium) and pumpkin seeds (iron and other minerals).
- Try a delicious brain-boosting smoothie with protein or these smoothie recipes. For optimum energy the nutritional info in this post will bring more pep to your process, more joy and optimism too.
Shiatsu for Fresh Energy
This Shiatsu technique can be used for fresh energy inspiration, and is also useful for easing headaches:
What Do You Really Want?
The drive to create, and keep creating, swiftly offers its own momentum when your heart is in it, when you feel passionate and compelled to create. As a writer who is up by the sparrow’s (as we say in Blighty), partly through an unquenchable love of writing, and partly through the management of a nasty pain disease, as unless I do, it becomes impossible to physically produce the work I long to. So it comes down to what you really want.
As Chuck Wendig said, “The creative process is alarmingly internal. A great deal of it goes on up in our — *taps forehead* — brain-gourds, stirring around in a great bubbly froth. It’s imaginary. It’s intellectual. It’s ephemeral, if we let it be. It’s fairy dross and pegasus dreams, man. The only way to take what is imaginary and make it a reality is to put your ass in the chair and write.” And it’s the same for making art. You have to do the work, and if you want to, you do — even if it takes a few ancient healing techniques to get your butt on that chair.
“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” John Green
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