Creativity is about journeying into the dark and mysterious forest of the unknown. It’s not necessarily about participating in the arts, although it can be. You can begin opening the door to your core creativity and to open-mind awareness. You can stop yearning for the big chance to find a sense of purpose and start experiencing it today, regardless of the mundane items on your agenda.
One of the most effective ways to become creatively toned and start accessing your core creativity is through a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness allows us to listen and pay attention to what we might otherwise overlook – whether it’s a fresh idea or a new way of perceiving a situation — enhancing our creativity and letting go of our obstacles to innovation.
Here are four techniques from my book, Wise Mind, Open Mind on how you can start today to ignite your everyday creativity.
Working Mindfully with Dreams
If you feel that you simply have no creative abilities, consider your dreams. Most nights, your mind generates at least a few fantastical images that you can recall upon waking if you slowly bring yourself back into consciousness with the intent of remembering your dreams. I often ask my clients to work with the images of their dreams by meditating on them, writing about them, and exploring them to see what ideas and insights they have to offer.
To do this, keep a notebook, or tape recorder by the bed, and when you first become aware of your dream, record as much detail as possible of the entire dream or whatever fragments, images, feelings, or emotions you can recall. Enter a state of quiet, mindful reflection and let the dream replay itself in your consciousness. Note that each symbol in the dream represents some aspect of yourself, so after recalling the dream, think about how each one represents some part of you.
Depression is a loop of unwholesome thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and sensations that feed upon themselves, spiraling the sufferer downward and away from an experience of hope, joy, enthusiasm, or curiosity. It chokes off the pipeline to the creative core. If you want to open up to a sense that tomorrow will bring new situations, new people, and new ideas, eliminating unwholesome moods is very important.
Mindfulness meditation, yoga practice, and regular exercise are all excellent for mood regulation, because they lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your bloodstream, increase your interleukin levels (enhancing your immune system and providing you with greater energy), and streamline your body’s ability to cleanse itself of chemical toxins, such as lactic acid in your muscles and bloodstream, which can affect neurotransmitter receptors and alter your mood.
Becoming Quiet and Doing Nothing
You don’t have to “try” to be creative when you access core creativity. You don’t have to “think through” what to do next, because a sense of possibility and wonder will simply come to you, followed by ideas that flow into you. By becoming quiet, you begin to tone yourself creatively as you allow your unconscious mind to open up. Ideas will start bubbling to the surface of your awareness, often in the form of images or a sense of deep, inner knowing.
A world-class drummer once took me inside his music room, slowly moved his hand across the drum kit, and said, “Sometimes I sit here for hours in the silence and quietly wait for the drums to tell me what to write and play.” As he spoke, I realized his ability to patiently wait and remain in an open, listening state was a key element in his ability to create amazing music.
Persevering and Trusting in the Creative Process
Although artists are often seen as flighty or undisciplined, the most successful ones are extremely disciplined. They may spend a workday seemingly doing nothing, but in fact, they’re consciously choosing to remain in a state of openness. They’ll often pick up a guitar and start playing anything, or sit at a computer and start typing whatever comes to mind, in order to start their creative flow. When nothing comes, they aren’t afraid to shift gears, to take a walk, or break the formula of how they’ve always chosen to connect to their creativity by trying something entirely different.
The reason they’re able to persevere isn’t because they have a particular temperament, but because they’ve experienced breakthroughs again and again. They know that they can rely on two distinct channels to glide into that space where we can all access our core creativity: honing our craft, a left-brain activity that tones us creatively over time, opening one of these channels; and persevering and trusting in this art of creative transformation, which opens the other.
When you’re creatively toned, instead of merely dipping your toe in the water and playing it safe, you’re willing to be utterly daring. Knowing this, you can navigate through a sea of self-limiting thoughts and transform such unwholesome beliefs as “I had my chance and blew it,” “It’s too late; my time is over,” “I’ll never be happy again,” and “I can’t.” The clouds of negativity part and the light of possibility beams down upon you.