Finding Motivation

Standard

This past Christmas my mom gave me a journal. This particular journal is called “The 52 Lists Project” and has a list for every week of the year-examples “Your Goals and Dreams for the Year,” “The Happiest Moments of Your Life So Far,” etc. While I have a pretty spotty history with journaling, I’ve actually been really good about filling this one out. However an upcoming question (for next week) is leaving me slightly flummoxed.

List the Things that Motivate You.

This list/question which on it’s surface seems fairly simple has been challenging for me. In part because the past few weeks/months it seems all I can do to get through my day to day tasks before I come home and collapse on my couch. There are certainly some physical causes I can point to (allergy season in particular has exacerbated my fatigue) but what I found more distressing was a fatigue of the mind. A seeming lack of desire to perform and create. Furthermore, while I could remember certain things that had motivated me in the past, they weren’t cutting it in my current day situation.

I decided to go back to basics. The definition of motivation from Wikipedia is, “a theoretical construct used to explain behavior…can also be defined as one’s direction to behavior or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior and vice versa.” However a motivation can be defined even more simply from it’s root word, motive which “prompts a person to act in a certain way or…develop an inclination for a specific behavior” (Wikipedia).

Going deeper into the definition you can also find several theories to explain motivation; including Instinct, Incentive, Drive, Arousal, Humanistic, and Expectancy (Cherry). However in the interest of simplicity I’m not going to go to deeply into all of these here (though I will post a link at the end of the article and I highly encourage anyone interested to check it out).

There are of course several lists/theories on the internet about how to find motivation from necessity, personal pride, support groups/peer pressure, etc. It was in looking at these theories and thinking about how certain one’s applied or didn’t apply or used to apply but don’t anymore that I began to see more clearly.

In the past my motivation came from pride or an “I’ll show them” mentality. As a child I was bullied quite a bit and with the pain of that personal experience as well as being a part of American Culture which is built on the mythos of rags to riches and tales of the underdog who rises above the expectations of others, I was determined to show the bullies, the adults who doubted me, etc. that I WAS worthwhile and they would be sorry.

This is where I want to get into a theory of my own that I’m developing which is that there are different types of motivation; positive, neutral and negative and that the type of motivation we draw from deserves consideration since it can lead us down a path to greater enlightenment and enrichment, into a whirlpool of destruction, or simply just plodding along the same old road day after day.

The baseline is neutral motivation. I would define this as necessity (i.e. you have bills to pay, a family to take care of). This kind of motivation isn’t particularly harmful and can even be helpful on the days that you absolutely can’t think of any other reason to get out of bed. However it’s not likely to lead to any great insights or creative progress. Still it’s important to have that baseline to define the extremes.

The idea of negative motivation might seem strange to some. However, I think it’s useful to talk about because I think many of us respond to it more when we realize and in many ways it traps us. It’s the overweight person losing weight after insensitivity and rejection, it was my desire to show those who doubted me that I was worthwhile by achieving fame or something similar. It is (at least I would argue) the “I’ll show them” mentality and comes from a place of pride/fear. Negative motivation might lead to some positive changes and it might work for awhile. However the problem is twofold. First, it largely comes from without and not within (i.e. the goal is not to improve, perform, or create for yourself but for others). The second issue is that if the goal fails or if you come up against hardships (i.e. when the overweight person has trouble losing weight or when you find yourself without the fame/notoriety/riches you seek by a certain point in life) then you can easily become discouraged and lose that motivation and thus find yourself adrift once again in a sea of uncertainty.

This brings us to the question of what leads to true positive motivation. One thing that certainly seems clear is that positive motivation must come from within and not from a desire to please others but from a larger sense of purpose. That purpose will be different to everyone for some it will be creating music or poetry, for some it might simply be making delicious chocolate chip cookies or strawberry scones. Ultimately though it must come from a place of love; what you love to do and what you share with others out of love.

While I’m still not totally certain about my motivations I think I’m beginning to get a much better idea. Among these are the desire to create, the desire for learning and new experiences, and perhaps most of all to connect with something much larger then myself.

At least it’s a start.

Bibliography and Works Cited

 Cherry, Kendra. “6 Key Theories of Motivation.” Verywell. N.p., 14 June 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2017. <https://www.verywell.com/theories-of-motivation-2795720&gt;.

“Motivation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Apr. 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation&gt;.

 

 

Charlie Hebdo and Freedom of Expression in Art

Standard

It has been only two weeks since twelve people were killed at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo by two gunmen. In the aftermath of the tragic events, there has been an outpouring of emotion throughout the world. Among these have been many peaceful protests in support of the magazine and the victims of the attacks. However other reactions have not been so sedate with anger being directed toward the magazine and its depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. With such strongly held views on both sides many questions about free speech have been raised. Most notably, when it comes to satire–whether in writing, art, or any other form–how far is too far? Does an artist’s right to freedom of expression trump the rights of those that might take offense?

In the United States the answer would seem to be a resounding and clear yes. After all Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are featured in the First Amendment. In our history, revolution, protests and challenging the status quo have played a large role in shaping the country’s character. In turn the arts have been utilized to inspire and bring about change. In writing we have numerous authors including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Upton Sinclair, Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou and many others whose voices and experiences changed the way we looked at the world and each other. In theatre we have Marc Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock” (which was famously temporarily shut down by the WPA to avoid government and union restrictions), Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” which features one of the most poignant commentaries and critiques of racism “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” and of course boundary pushing works such as “Hair” and “Rent.” American protest music has a long history from early colonial protest songs like “Revolutionary Tea” (which celebrates the Boston Tea Party) to the anthems of Pro-Union workers, to the music of the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. Thus attempts at censorship can and have often been met with resistance from the courts and the general population.

However, as some have pointed out, things get a bit more complicated when we consider practices that we seem to hold in contrast with our ideals. In an article from The Huffington Post, writer Pia de Jong noted the muted response to the shooting in the United States. She believed the reason for this lies in the country’s multi-cultural roots stating, “Self-censorship and hypocrisy are the main instruments that keep the many groups away from each other’s throats.” She also noted that unlike the free for all of European Press, the media in the US is very much in line with political correctness (de Jong). This view was echoed by columnist David Brooks who wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, “If [Charlie Hebdo] had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.” The media’s coverage of the tragedy seems to confirm these points as many newspapers and all American news networks have chosen to censor or simply refuse to show the offending artwork (Bankoff).

Obviously what happened at Charlie Hebdo is a tragedy. No one deserves to die over a picture, or any other piece of art for that matter. Moreover, I appreciate the ability of satire to expose hypocrisy and injustice within society. However, as an artist I couldn’t see myself going out of the way to offend a group (or groups) of people the way Charlie Hebdo does. In the end there is probably no clear answer to that question “how far is too far?” Instead it is dependent on all of us to (as David Brooks so eloquently wrote) “…maintain that delicate balance between the standards of civility and respect while at the same time allowing room for those creative and challenging folks who are uninhibited by good manners and taste.”

Works Cited and Bibliography

Bankoff, Caroline. “Some Newspapers and All Major American News Networks Decide Against Showing Charlie Hebdo’s Muhammad Cartoons.” Daily Intelligencer. NYMag, 07 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
Brooks, David. “I Am Not Charlie Hebdo.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Jan. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.
“The Cradle Will Rock.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Dec. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
Jong, Pia De. “When Charlie Met Charlie.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
Levs, Josh. “10 Killed, Churches Torched in Protests over Charlie Hebdo – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
Schofield, Hugh. “Massacre at French Magazine Office.” BBC News. BBC, 07 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

(Just Like) Starting Over

Standard

Today I’m taking the first step to try and write on my blog again.

On one level it’s a bit embarrassing. I had been doing fairly ok about trying to post regularly. However I skipped a week, one week became two and next thing I knew almost three months had gone by.

The funny thing was as bad as I felt about not writing or posting anything, I was scared to come back too. I envisioned this page being littered with the internet’s version of cobwebs. Chastisements of my laziness, inability to write, etc. from some phantom critic/authority figure. Perhaps this page wouldn’t even be here but would have instead been deleted to make room for others who had been far more productive.

However, the only thing worse then not writing would be continuing not to write. Thus here I am again. I’ve written before about creative U-turns and facing mistakes and/or failure and I suppose I need to take that advice (though fun fact dear reader, I often have a hard time taking my own advice).

Today is a step, one simple step, that will hopefully bring me to a long journey. However I need your help on this path. For those of you that are readers of this blog I want to know what kind of things you’d like to see. Would you like articles on certain topics, recordings/videos, interviews, advice columns? Whatever ideas you have I’d love to experiment with them so that we can create a forum for artists and related topics.

Here’s to the first step

Is Rock Really Dead or Just Evolving (A Response to Gene Simmons)

Standard

Gene Simmons has once again made headlines declaring the death of rock-n-roll. In an interview in Esquire Magazine (with his son Nick Simmons), the Kiss bassist blamed the dying music industry and illegal downloading/file sharing for creating the current landscape that musicians have to navigate. Indeed the current state of rock music and its place in the music industry is fairly grim. However to declare it dead is, in my view, erroneous.
Simmons is correct in his statements illegal downloading has led to the music industry lacking the power it once had. This in turn results in the industry that’s left relying on safer bets: pop and rap which are very popular and country which in addition to popularity also has an audience more likely to buy albums. It’s true that it might be difficult for people to think of bands in the past 20 years that are truly iconic. It’s also true that in our current society there is (sadly) a lack of respect for artists and their work.
However does all this mean that rock is dead? I don’t believe this is the case. The more likely scenario is that rock (and music as a whole) is evolving. This evolution is leading to bands that may not fill stadiums like Kiss but are just as well loved by their fans and are still able to make music their career.
Some factors that Simmons failed to take into account for the current state of rock music is a cultural fragmentation of sorts and a fragmentation of rock music itself. In the period he lauds as the time where many classic bands came into being (from about 1958-1983) there was a more homogenous culture. It was a time where there were only a few channels on television and where the idea of the internet would have sounded like something out of “The Jetsons.” It was easy for rock bands to be propelled to a mass audience because they had “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “American Bandstand,” and other similar programs that everybody watched (perhaps because it was one of a few choices). Now however, with hundreds of channels on television and millions of websites artists don’t necessarily have that same platform for immediate exposure to a mass audience. In some ways this might be beneficial (one can argue that artists today have many different platforms they can utilize) though I will concede that it can feel at times like shouting into a wind tunnel.
Another issue is that the genre of rock music has become very fragmented as well. This isn’t new; in the early and mid-sixties there were clashes between mods, who favored the sounds of bands like The Who, and rockers who stayed loyal to the rockabilly sounds of the fifties. In the late sixties and seventies we saw the growth of numerous subgenres including psychedelic rock, heavy metal, southern rock, glam rock, punk, new wave, etc. However nowadays there are so many different subgenres (just think of how many types of metal alone that there are) that it’s hard to pinpoint one band that defines rock as a whole. Is rock represented by the radio friendly pop sound of Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5? The retro vintage sound of Wolfmother, The Black Keys and the music of Jack White and his various groups? Is it the neo-psychedelic sounds of The Flaming Lips, the folk-rock sound of The Avett Brothers or the dark metal/grunge sound of Five Finger Death Punch? While this fragmentation of the genre certainly might make it hard to talk about a band defining rock in the way The Beatles or The Rolling Stones did, it goes to show that there is still a lot of rock music out there and a lot of rock music fans. They just might not listen to the same stations or have the same music in their iTunes libraries.
Thus, despite the continuing challenges that up and coming bands may face, rock music is far from dead. In fact, it’s just the opposite, very much alive and continuing to evolve and expand. The rock bands of the future may have more challenges to face and more of a niche audience then the bands of the past. However, in the words of AC/DC, “Rock-n-roll, it will survive.”

Bibliography and Works Cited

Simmons, Nick. “Gene Simmons: ‘Rock Is Finally Dead'” Esquire.com Article. Esquire, 04 Sept. 2014. Web. 06 Sept. 2014. .

The Ten Commandments of Audience Etiquette

Standard

In my last post I talked about how to deal with uncooperative audiences as a performer. However since there are two sides to the equation (and turnabout is fair play) I wanted to discuss audience etiquette as well. I have seen some pretty bad behavior from certain audiences and audience members over the years. What makes it really frustrating is audience etiquette is not difficult. It is simply a matter of respecting the performance onstage as well as your fellow audience members. With that in mind (as well as help from emilypost.com) I have put together a list of Ten Commandments for Audience Members.

1) Thou Shalt Know Your Venue: Those of you that read the previous post will note that this is also the first piece of advice I gave to performers. However knowing the type of venue that you will be in and what type of performance you are attending is just as important for audience members since different venues permit or discourage different types of behavior. Obviously a theatre or classical concert will have very different expectations of behavior then a rock concert.

2) Thou Shalt Arrive Early: Everybody knows when you go to the movies you have to sit through several commercials and previews before you get see the film. Generally, this is not the case with concerts and other performance events. Arriving early will allow you to find your seats and do whatever else you need to do to get settled before the show begins. If you do arrive late, try to wait for a break in the performance to enter (a scene change or applause) and go to your seat as quickly and quietly as possible.

3) Thou Shalt Not Make Excessive Noise: As stated previously the type of venue you’re at might play a role in this. However the audience has come to hear a performance and not you. With that in mind it’s generally a good idea to keep talking to a minimum. You should also silence your cellphone and other noise making devices or at least put them on vibrate. Be mindful of other sounds too-slurping drinks, unwrapping candy/gum/cough drops, excessive coughing, rattling programs, humming/singing along, or rummaging through belongings can be annoying to other audience members and (if they are conscious of it) the performers (emilypost.com).

4) Thou Shalt Be Mindful of Seating and Posture: If you are in an auditorium seating is often arranged in such a way that a person in the seats behind can see between the two seats in front (emilypost.com). This can make it hard to see if someone is slumping, leaning forward, or resting their head on their partners shoulder (Ibid). If you are at an outdoor venue or a standing room only club try and make sure you are not blocking anyone’s view of the stage.

5) Thou Shalt Be Respectful of Photography and Videography Policies: In the age of selfies and social media we might be used to photographing and documenting every event we go to. However using flash photography or taking videos can be distracting (and even dangerous) for performers and can disturb other audience members. For this reason it is generally preferred one not photograph or videotape a performance. If photography/videotaping is allowed don’t use flash photography and make sure you are not blocking or disturbing other audience members. However, even if cameras are allowed I think it should be noted that you will probably have a far richer experience if you are a full participant in the moment rather then an observer behind a device.

6) Thou Shalt Be Mindful of Your Children or Pets (if allowed): First of all make sure any show you are taking your child to is age appropriate for them. If possible talk to them about audience etiquette ahead of time. When you are at the venue keep an eye on your children at all times. If your child is crying or creating a disturbance take them to the lobby or another area where they will not disturb other audience members (my blood still boils at the memory of one concert I went to where an audience member allowed her baby to wail through a majority of the show instead of taking the child to the lobby). If you are at a venue where pets are allowed keep them on a leash, take them somewhere else if they’re creating a disturbance and pick up any droppings.

7) Thou Shalt Talk to Venue Staff About Unsavory Characters: If there is another member of the audience that is making noise a quick shush might be fine. However, if the person continues throughout the performance your shushing will only add to the disturbance. In that case try to find an usher, security officer or other official who will be able to deal with the offender. On a more serious note, if you feel that you or any other audience member is being threatened, harassed or is any in danger let venue security know as soon as possible and try to get to a safe place.

8) Thou Shalt Not Leave Before the Fat Lady Sings (or if you must Thou Shalt Do So Unobtrusively): Leaving a performance early is incredibly rude to the performers. Of course emergencies happen so if you absolutely must leave (hint: trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot is not an acceptable excuse) try to wait for a break (set change, applause, etc.) and exit as quickly and quietly as you can.

9) Thou Shalt Clean Up After Thyself: Dispose of any trash in a trash can and try to wipe up any spills or pick up any dropped food (emilypost.com). If there was a spill try to let someone from the venue know-this is not only a courtesy to them but to the next person who has your seat (Ibid). Don’t be one of those people that leaves your trash behind because “the janitors will get that.” The cleaning staff has enough to do and they don’t need inconsiderate people making their jobs more difficult.

10) Thou Shalt Have Fun: There is nothing worse for a performer then having an unappreciative audience. Conversely, there is nothing better then a performance in front of an attentive and engaged audience- where they laugh at all the jokes, sway to the music, and give you a standing ovation at the end of the night. Ultimately whether it’s a concert, ballet, or a comedy show people go to enjoy a pleasurable experience. The relationship between a performer and their audience is a symbiotic one; if you respect and appreciate the artist(s) they will put on a show you won’t forget.

Crowd Control: How to Deal with an Uncooperative Audience

Standard

As a musician and actress, one of the most frustrating things I’ve dealt with are uncooperative audiences. Sometimes it’s due to inattentiveness or an uninterested attitude. Other times it can be due to outright rude behavior or heckling.
The relationship between the performer and the audience is highly important to the success of a performer. However, any performer can tell you a story of at least one audience (or members of an audience) that didn’t act appropriately or were indifferent to the performance. This isn’t limited to performers in obscurity. In July of this year Ray LaMontagne stormed offstage and demanded two audience members be ejected from his show for talking during his set at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan (Karan). On the other side of the coin, Jack White ended a set at Detroit’s Fox Theatre early and has sworn never to play there again following a show where he cited the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm (Parks). While LaMontagne and White’s reactions are certainly understandable to many performers, they are probably not actions we can afford to take. So what is a performer to do? Below I have included some tips for performers that can hopefully help in keeping these situations from happening or at the very least de-escalating them.

1) Understand Your Venue: The type of venue you’re performing in does have an impact in many cases on what you can and should expect from your audience. If you are a violinist performing at a classical recital or an actor performing in a theatre you can probably expect a fairly well behaved audience (Estrin). Any breaches of etiquette will more likely then not be taken care of by other audience members (who might chastise the offender) or even the venue’s staff. However what if you are performing at a party, bar, festival or a public space like a shopping mall? Well unfortunately even though the lack of attention may wound your ego there probably isn’t much you can do because at many of these events people can also come to hang out and not just listen to music (Ibid). However if a crowd (or someone in it) is truly out of control you might need to have the club manager, bouncer, or whoever else is running the show step in (Bliesener, Knopper). Try to get to know these people ahead of time so that if a situation does occur you’ll know who you can rely on (Ibid).

2) Know your audience: This often goes hand in hand with understanding your venue. However in many ways it deserves it’s own category since knowing the type of audience to expect and what they like can go a long way to putting on a successful show. This might mean playing more covers then originals. In other cases it might mean playing more of a particular genre (i.e. playing mostly country music at a country/western bar or more rock at a biker bar). If you can, try to take requests and if you can’t play a song let the person know as nicely as possible (Bliesener, Knopper). However, don’t forget (especially if you are an original artist) to try and build your own audience. If there is anyone at a gig who seems especially interested in your work reach out to them; get them on your mailing list, your Facebook page, etc. Even if you get just one new fan at a venue, over time you can build momentum. Eventually you can reach a point where you are rewarded with audiences that are there for you.

3) Try to resist confrontation: While you may be tempted to confront a heckler or other uncooperative audience members, generally it’s not the best course of action. In many cases this situation can backfire by escalating the situation and further alienating the individuals involved. You also run the risk of alienating other audience members who might be friends with the heckler or may otherwise be turned off by a hostile response (however arguably deserved it may have been). In many cases the best thing you can do is to simply launch into your next song/poem/etc (Bliesener, Knopper). Hecklers in particular thrive on the attention they receive from their antics and ignoring them can sometimes shut them up (though of course if they are too unruly you might need to allow the venue to handle the situation). One tactic, recommended by pianist Robert Estrin, can be to play or speak more quietly. Obviously this isn’t a perfect solution for all performers (a heavy metal band can only get so quiet). However sometimes this can draw people in more and those that can’t hear might take it upon themselves to silence any offenders.

Ultimately as artists and performers we will at some point have those moments where no matter what we do an audience may not respond in the way we want them to. Hopefully though the tips provided here can help. If all else fails, just try to focus on playing the best you can and when the show is over focus on your next performance. In the words of Mr. White from the film That Thing You Do “If the crowd doesn’t go wild for you, don’t worry. They will tomorrow.”

(If you have any stories or tips of your own on dealing with uncooperative audiences please leave them in the comments below.)

Bibliography and Works Cited

Bliesener, Mark, and Steve Knopper. “I’ve Got the Gig! Now What? Crowd Control.” The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Band. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha, 2004. 136-37. Print.

Dealing with a Loud Audience. Perf. Robert Estrin. Dealing with a Loud Audience. Virtual Sheet Music, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. .

Karan, Tim. “Ray LaMontagne Storms Offstage, Boots Couple From Show.” Diffuserfm. N.p., 24 July 2014. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. .

Parks, Andrew. “Jack White Ends Detroit Set Early, Pledges to Never Play Fox Theatre Again.” Wondering Sound. N.p., 29 July 2014. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. .

Creativity and the Mind Body Connection

Standard

From the time I was a child I dreaded gym class. Gym class was when I had to wear unattractive clothes, get picked on and picked last by the jocks and jockettes, play sports I wasn’t any good at, and ultimately get dirty, sweaty and smelly. As a true child of the arts and humanities (and a bit of a girly girl to measure) gym class seemed to be the opposite of beauty and artistic ideals. Furthermore, as a fairly intelligent kid I tended to (and still do) live in my head quite a bit. My body was there but it was more of a vehicle for my mind and vocal chords. However, as I am getting closer to my mid-twenties with a few too many pounds and a quite a few artistic blocks, I’m finding myself reevaluating the mind-body connection and what it can do for me as an artist.

For centuries in western society people have believed the mind and body were separate and more importantly that the mind was superior to the body (Montgomery). After all, the mind was viewed as the being the center of reason, identity and spirituality while the body was seen as home to untamed emotions and primal urges (Ibid). However recent studies in neuroscience and cognitive science have found that this division is not the case. Mind and body, rather than being like two separate cliques who tolerate each other’s existence, are made to coexist harmoniously. Physical activity can, among other things, boost mood and stimulate brain growth (Siegfried). However, the most exciting discovery is from the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience which showed that regular exercise could boost creativity.

At first glance this might sound like bad news for artists and intellectuals who may still have nightmares about gym class. However there are ways that we can exercise to tap into this potential and none of these have to involve getting picked last for volleyball.

1) Dance: This might be the most obvious way to get physical activity for people who love the arts considering dance is an art. You can either find classes or you can do it at home with video instruction. There are several different branches of dance you can choose from (ballroom, ballet, tap, jazz, modern, belly dance, African dance, clogging…). Dance has been found to boost memory, improve balance and flexibility, increase energy, reduce stress and depression, and help the heart (in fact an Italian study found dancing helped people with heart disease improve more than biking or walking on a treadmill) (Knight). Dance can also help to make friends and expand socially (ibid). After all, knowing a few moves can probably do quite a bit to boost your confidence at the next wedding or high school reunion you have to attend. Of course for artists it can also be an opportunity for performance.
2) Walking/Jogging/Bicycling: I included these together because in many ways they are very similar in their benefits though they have their differences as well. All are aerobic exercises meaning that large groups of muscles are active which requires support from the heart and lungs (Lidor). You can either walk/jog/cycle around your neighborhood or if you’re an indoor type you can do them at a gym or at home on a treadmill. They all reduce weight and can prevent various degenerative diseases though cycling puts less stress on joints and thus is often recommended for people who are overweight (Ibid). However, as an artist you might take different approaches. Some (particularly if you are doing this outdoors) might use the time to gain inspiration from your surroundings or as a time to clear your mind. Others might listen to music or an audiobook for inspiration (safety note: if you are outside try to remain aware of your surroundings, especially be mindful of traffic).
3) Yoga: The term Yoga actually refers to a variety of physical, mental and spiritual practices to transform the body and the mind (Wikipedia). The type of Yoga that spread to the west and is most popular in America is a style known as Hatha Yoga (Ibid). However there are many types of Yoga a person can choose from. They range from the very physical styles of Ashtanga and Power Yoga to the more relaxed Iyenger and Hatha (WebMD). Yoga can have many benefits to health including increases in flexibility and strength, better posture, lower blood pressure, and better breathing (Ibid). It’s also been linked to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and better immune system function (Ibid). However Yoga can also have huge benefits in quieting and clearing the mind which can help artists (or anyone for that matter) relieve everyday stresses and perhaps find the inspiration for that next great project (Ibid).
4) Swimming: Swimming is great for those of us that are especially concerned about the icky sweaty factor of exercise (and considering we only have about one more month of summer, now is a good time to take advantage of it). The benefits of swimming are numerous. First, you can work practically all the muscles in the body with a variety of strokes (Luebbers). Additionally it can develop strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness (Ibid). It’s great for people who are overweight or have joint problems or injuries since it doesn’t involve as much impact stress on the body (Ibid). There can obviously be social benefits (hanging out with friends at the beach or by the pool). However, like yoga, swimming can also allow for meditation which can lead to an artist being able to clear their mind and gain some inspiration.

I offer a challenge to my fellow artists; let’s get off the couch or up from our desks and truly explore our mind-body connections. Let’s dance, walk, jog, cycle, swim, do yoga, or do something else entirely if none of those work for you. In finding our mind-body connection we can be lead to a better understanding of ourselves as artists. Thus we can become more creative, productive, and can truly live up to our artistic ideals (even if we are a little sweaty).

Bibliography and Works Cited
Chan, Amanda L. “Regular Exercise Could Boost Creativity.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 09 Dec. 2013. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Colzato, Lorenza S., Ayca Szapora, Justine N. Pannekoek, and Bernhard Hommel. “The Impact of Physical Exercise on Convergent and Divergent Thinking.” Frontiers. N.p., 02 Dec. 2013. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Davis, Jeffrey, M.A. “Science of Creativity Moves Into the Body.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., 07 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Dean, Jeremy. “20 Wonderful Effects Exercise Has on the Mind.” PsyBlog RSS. N.p., 09 Oct. 2013. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Knight, Madeline. “9 Health Benefits of Dance.” EverydayHealth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Lidor, David. “Running Vs Cycling – The Similarities and the Differences.” Running Vs Cycling – The Similarities and the Differences. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Luebbers, Mat. “What Are the Health Benefits of Being a Swimmer?” About.com Swimming. N.p., 02 June 2014. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Montgomery, John, Ph.D. “The Body in the Mind.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., 27 Aug. 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
Siegfried, Juliette, MPH. “How Exercise Affects the Brain.” How Exercise Affects the Brain. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .
“Yoga Health Benefits: Flexibility, Strength, Posture, and More.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2014.
“Yoga.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 08 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Aug. 2014. .