You might not even think of yourself as being creative, but there is much you can learn from highly creative people and their processes to turn up the volume on their own creativity.
Why is creativity important for you (and the world) right now?
Billions of people around the world were jolted out of the belief that life would go on as always when the Covid-19 pandemic began. Many became anxious or depressed, not knowing how to adjust to the new reality. Now many of us are looking for a much-desired personal transformation or have experience a loss that’s forcing change. Some of us are looking to build our careers in a time of tremendous change due to pandemics, globalization, climate change, and technological advances. Research has shown that employers and businesses are embracing innovation and creativity as key employee skills.
Ideas can help us navigate this time of transition and create new visions.
When you’re transforming personally, it’s natural to feel some resistance to change as you wonder who you are becoming and whether the “new you” is a self you’ll feel comfortable with. Even when transformation seems positive, you can experience fear, loss, or discomfort with a significant change in your personal identity. Creativity involves reassembling what already exists: putting together ideas that haven’t been combined before. It also involves perceiving differently instead of from a default perspective.
In my book Core Creativity: The Mindful Way to Unlock Your Creative Self I guide readers utilizing powerful guided visualizations, insights and interviews with highly creative artists, and stories of ordinary people to help them access what I call their “Core Creativity.” This is the creativity that comes from the very center of your being: your unconscious mind. The process of achieving core creativity involves three mind states: absorbing mind, open mind, and generating mind.
The activity zone of absorbing mind is when we draw in information and stimulation, without analyzing it, free of filters and judgments. In absorbing mind, we can move from that activity to an intuitive understanding that we are taking in information that was hidden from us when we were in an ordinary “I have to find some answers and ideas” state.
In absorbing mind your intuition is at full power so you remain open to stimulation and ideas rather than rejecting them out of hand. Too often, people try to “brainstorm” and their instant reaction to an idea is to say, “No, that’s not it” and reject it. In absorbing mind, you still might say, “No, I don’t think that’s it,” but you are willing to play with the concept some more, exploring what other ideas come from its essence or form. You recognize that wrong as the idea is, playing with it may suggest to you an even better one.
In open mind, you bypass the limited thinking and the biases of the rational mind, leading to breakthroughs and intuitive insights. You experience a sense of spaciousness as your anxieties about time and your perceptions of limited options fall away, and you feel yourself open up to receive knowledge and ideas that were previously hidden from your awareness.
The most efficient way to bring yourself into a state of open mind is through mindfulness practice. Research shows that mindfulness practice increases creativity, which is why it’s a vital part of the core creativity process. I tell my therapy and coaching clients that they can choose not to begin a mindfulness meditation practice, but it’s rocket fuel for transformation. You can also access open mind through the activity zones of absorbing mind and generating mind, as many creative artists know very well.
In generating mind, you play with ideas that have come to you, and go over into the absorbing zone again and again as if drawing water from a well or pulling photos from a backup drive. Generating mind is the activity zone that people typically associate with creativity and in fact, creative activities—playing a musical instrument, free writing, doodling—can all result in new insights and ideas arriving in your consciousness.
Through play, you can open the portal to generating mind and then walk down the corridor to the room of open mind. Creativity as most people think of it can simply be defined as play, and engaging in it preps your mind to experience open mind awareness and the big idea you seek.
Absorbing mind, open mind, generating mind: Each are ones for accessing core creativity, and moving among them naturally will happen with practice. You will know when to meditate, when to dabble, when to sit in a state of quiet receptivity, when to listen to your instincts, and when to play.
Excerpt from Dr. Ronald Alexander’s book Core Creativity: The Mindful Way to Unlock Your Creative Self