Keeping Those Creative Juices Flowing

Sleeping DogA part of me is saying that this is the most creative time in the history of earth. There are more creative people doing more creative things in more creative ways than ever before – and that’s a very good thing, because it will take all our creativity to catalyze the changes we need to make in the next few years. Those of you who are familiar with “deep practice” may recall that intensely creative periods restructure the brain, and that this restructuring necessitates a lot of sleep. If you’ve read Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight, you have a first-person account from a very smart brain scientist which backs up the idea that creativity, brain changes, and sleep are inseparable companions.

So my advice to you this month is to play until you feel like sleeping, and then remember to SLEEP UNTIL YOU FEEL LIKE PLAYING. Without both sides of the equation, the profoundly innovative things that are meant to come through your creativity can’t be realized as fully or as quickly. 

Sleep has been a very hot topic among my friends and coaches lately. I feel challenged to learn a new way of sleeping — to visit the dreamtime with purpose and intention, not just as something  I need to do to keep my body functioning. Our culture is chronically sleep-deprived, but we must not be. Our goal is to heal our own lives, the lives of other beings, and suffering in general. Sleep is the great healer. Claim it, embrace it, use it!


20 replies
  1. Katie @ Be Extraordinary Today
    Katie @ Be Extraordinary Today says:

    Thanks for this. I think sleep is such an important tool for creativity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve woken up with new ideas and inspiration. I had no idea, though, that creativity rewires our brains. Now I have research to back up my need for naps!

  2. rebecca @ altared spaces
    rebecca @ altared spaces says:

    I am not a great sleeper. 4-6 hours a night is where I sit no matter what I’m offered. I just wake up. I am a great dreamer, however, and I use the extra time under my very soft and nurturing covers to lullaby with my dreams. Waking rest can be cozy too, enjoying the soft and warmth. My dog snores next to me and I love her smell. Sometimes I sleep through her breath.

    And napping is delicious.

    I welcome any comments you have regarding short sleepers.

  3. dan
    dan says:

    Sometimes all I need is a 10 min nap to refresh me. It surprizes me with the places in which I can actually do this. It can be very noisy and then onthe other hand will have to have complete silence.

  4. An
    An says:

    Such an important theme for me right now. I tend to ignore my “I need some sleep” signals. Gonna stick “play until you feel like sleeping, and then SLEEP UNTIL YOU FEEL LIKE PLAYING” all around the house to remind me 🙂

  5. Leah
    Leah says:

    I think the key here is the setting of intension part. Dropping into bed, TV blaring and lights on does not lend one to drift off into a deep and restorative sleep. Sinking gently and consciously between the sheets with your head floating softly down onto the pillow makes more sense. And once you have gotten totally comfortable, intending a rich but tranquil sleep is a wonderful idea. I have intended that my next day was going to be productive, but never that my nighttime would re-charge my creative juices. Thank you.

  6. Leah
    Leah says:

    First, ooh, another Leah ^ that spells her name the same!

    Secondly, glad I found your website today. I’m one of those people that *needs* 7-8 hours of sleep/night to feel normal. I know this is rare among adults. Many people brag that they only get 6 hours/night. I feel that sleep is a precious commodity and I’m glad my husband feels the same way!

  7. Margarita
    Margarita says:

    I love sleep! And I’ve read the book by Jill Bolte Taylor…it has really interesting insights into our relationship with our brain. Thanks for this!

  8. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    I love this post! Sleep is so undervalued in our society. Back in law school when my classmates would be studying into the wee hours of the night, I’d be in bed because I knew that if I was tired, I wouldn’t be taking anything in anyway – so why not get the sleep I needed? Today, I always try to work in a nap if I can – I feel so refreshed and much more creative when I do. Thanks, Martha!

  9. Michelle Sears
    Michelle Sears says:

    This is very good advice for me because I sometimes wish I didn’t have to sleep so I could get more done. However, when I do sleep I sleep very, very well. Which is about 6-7 hours a night.

  10. Sheila
    Sheila says:

    I wish I have more time to sleep, today lack of time is a real problem. Many people complain about not having time to rest and sleep. But it’s our due to manage our time for resting and sleeping. I need some sleep to refresh my mind and get creative 😀

  11. Kelly Pratt
    Kelly Pratt says:

    BOY DID I NEED TO FIND THIS POST TODAY! “play until you feel like sleeping, and then SLEEP UNTIL YOU FEEL LIKE PLAYING” thanks Martha! As usual, you hit my nail on the head! Or did you just nail me? anyway I got the message. I’m gonna go take nap…zzzzzz

  12. Naomi Estment
    Naomi Estment says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Martha. Your message resonates soundly with Eric Maisel’s “Sleep Thinking”.

    Jill Bolte Taylor’s insight touched us deeply and offers hope, following a freak accident that left one of my closest friends with similar brain damage.

    It’s wonderful to be reminded that every moment, asleep and awake, is to be treasured 🙂

  13. Carol Semin
    Carol Semin says:

    Great pic!!!!! That wonderful pic gets my creative juices flowing – humor. But frankly I’m left without creativity, inspiration or new brain pathways – I find going to sleep traumatic, as it’s the time I most profoundly have to face the void within. I’ll see what I can do to approach sleep differently.

    Many thanks to Martha for your wonderful blogs, vlogs and daily insights to my Inbox – I look forward to them every day, and they are so synchronistic. Also, your Marhta Beck column in the O Mag is always great. 😉

  14. Bringforth
    Bringforth says:

    Thank you for mentioning Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor. I recently re-watched her talk on TED and it was so moving. When she talks about the genie in the bottle and how we all tend to not see ourselves as expansive as we are and envision as big things for our lives as could was tremendous. Envisioning those things though begins with love and self-care whether that be through time for exercise, proper nutrition, or, sleep. Life can only cooperate with us to the degree that we prepare ourselves and care for ourselves enough to be vessels for all that is.

  15. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    and using the time you fall asleep as play can really help you sleep like a baby too. Try thinking of just 3 or 4 things that you’re really grateful for as you drift off – no to do lists, no worries, no negative – just picture the details – all of them delicious – of a few things you’re grateful for and you’ll “fall” into a fantastic place – rather than stressful, fitful sleep. Thanks Martha.

  16. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    Ok, so everyone else left a comment in 2011; I am just reading this the day after Thanksgiving, when my employer has informed me they will not be keeping me. I love you Martha Beck. From the day I relocated back to Seattle in 2005, and I picked up the North Star book and will always remember the question about “how does your big toe feel”. You are larger than life to me and one day I will get the chance to meet you face-to-face and tell you so. Reading your blogs and getting your daily inspirations, are like being in a candy store…I can never get enough. I thank the Universe for you often. Let me know if you ever need an Extraordinary Assistant…that would be me!!!

    • Heidi
      Heidi says:

      Debbie, sounds like you’d love Martha’s Coach Training Program. I went through it a year ago, and LOVE it! It may be your new key to a fabulous career!!

  17. melanie
    melanie says:

    I know for me drinking caffeine affects my sleep. ==the more caffeine I drink, the less I sleep So for me getting more sleep is drinking less or no caffeine—But I love drinking coffee &/or caffeine……….


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Theory of Happiness #1 | Nerissa Nields says:

    […] Martha Beck, whom I love, and who trained me to be a life coach, says, “Play till you feel like resting, then rest till you feel like playing. Never do anything else.” It’s such simple, brilliant advice. It should be noted that she uses the word “play” as someone else might use “work”––but only if one’s work is the work one choses to do, the kind of work that makes one jump out of bed in the morning just because one can’t wait to get to it. I am fortunate to have such work. I am always eager to get to it, even when I am sick. […]

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