How do mindfulness and creativity work together? One of our mindful tribe listeners has reached out to me and asked me to do a creativity meditation. And I wanted to talk about how creativity can help us during this pandemic, or really anytime. Many of you have lost jobs and you're not sure what's going to happen with your employment. Maybe you don't know if your job will still exist. After the quarantine, mindfulness can help you get in touch with your creative mind.
From there, you may realize how you can pivot. At this time, it may open up in your thought process exactly where you need to move to and at the same time, your creativity can help you become more mindful. So it can work both ways. And that can cause the light to come on in your mind.
Creativity and Mindfulness
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Some of the best ideas and innovations have come to people during challenging times and strife. The first thing to do is welcome new ideas and be open to being creative. Allow yourself to let your mind go where it wants to go. Allow your thoughts to go on a tour, to travel to wherever to it might take you. Don't try to predict it. Don't try to force it, just let it happen.
A lot of us get so wrapped up in our lives and our jobs and we push creativity away. We start to think we don't need creativity in our lives. And we just need our brain to be centered and focused on that same old thinking process.
Scientists have known for centuries that the creative process comes through forms of mindfulness. Now of course, it hasn't always been called Mindfulness.
The Art of Thought
In 1926, Graham Wallace wrote The Art Of Thought. And The Art Of Thought is a book that's all about training our minds in the creative process. Creativity requires freedom in our thinking. And there's a point where it also requires a certain amount of constraint. So I'll explain that. Let me guide you through the process of opening up to your creativity.
4 Stages of Creativity
1. There are actually four stages of the creative brain. And the first stage is allowing your brain to roam around freely, being open to new thoughts, being willing to use your imagination and let it happen. And if you're open, you'll start to gather information and that can be random information. It can see messy and disorganized and you might feel like it makes no sense at all. Just allow your mind to go where it wants to. Allow your mind to entertain thoughts that in the past, you probably would have pushed away.
2. The second stage of the creative brain is letting those thoughts incubate, let them brew while you sleep or while you exercise, or while you're taking long walks in nature. Do what you enjoy and let those thoughts go where they want. Don't allow your mind to be too stimulated at this point.
If you're playing video games or watching TV, that isn't the best thing to be doing at this stage. Just do something that will allow your brain to process these thoughts. Maybe you enjoy cooking, or organizing, maybe baking bread is your thing. Just allow yourself the space to let those thoughts progress and move forward. Maybe you're painting, creating some kind of art, doodling, or maybe you're doing some kind of mindfulness coloring.
3. The third stage is when your ‘aha’ moment will come to you. This will be a moment of creative insight that suddenly pops into your brain. It might happen at the second just as you're waking up in the morning, or maybe just as you're falling asleep at night. Suddenly a thought will come into your mind and you'll realize it's actually a revelation.
Maybe you're writing some music or playing an instrument, and you have a sudden realization. Mindfulness will help you be open to this new idea, a sudden thought that comes forward from your subconscious.
4. The fourth stage is when everything comes together. This is called the verification stage. You identify your aha moment and in your cognitive mind you put the pieces together and everything begins to make sense. Your massive pool of random thoughts has formed itself into a laser beam of light pointing at a specific solution or a process.
Everything suddenly starts to make sense and you can see how the pieces will potentially fit together. It's important to just let this process happen and understand that creativity and mindfulness will help you. Don't push it or try to speed up the process. Just be open to letting it happen on its own. Allowing yourself to use mindfulness in all its forms will help you move through these four stages.
The more you can let go and allow your creative mind to explore, the more you'll move through these stages. If you're a musician, allow yourself to improvise, to just freely let some music happen. It doesn't matter what it sounds like, just allow it to be free. Now apply this thinking and do whatever you like to do. As I mentioned, maybe it's cooking or organizing, or maybe it's drawing or painting.
Allow yourself to be free and open about what appears on that sketchpad or on that canvas. Just use the colors and let them happen and don't overthink it. Right now let's explore this mindful place where you can let go, where you can be open to new thoughts.
Meditation will help you move through these four stages and for some of you, you won't even realize you're doing it. Meditation boosts divergent thinking so try meditation before your sessions of creativity. After meditation, just allow yourself to brainstorm and be as creative as your mind wants to be.
Even a short meditation time can calm your thoughts and can help you move from a place of anxiety or stress to a place where your thoughts will help you move forward. This can be a walking meditation or you can use a still meditation method.
Don't try to force yourself through these four stages that I've talked about. Just let your creativity and mindfulness practice take you on a journey. Being mindful will increase your awareness, and your thoughts will become more clear and you'll be able to identify those thoughts more easily.
Just remember that anxiety is what pushes your insights away. Stress will keep your brilliance from coming to the surface. When these insights come up in your mind, you'll learn to identify them and catch them before they disappear.
Let It Happen
This whole process is a balancing act, but it will happen if you allow it to happen. So let's go on a short meditation journey right now.
Become comfortable, just where you are. Relax and for you, if that means closing your eyes, that's fine or if this is a walking meditation for you, that's perfectly fine as well but just let your mind relax. Let your mind be at peace. Take a deep breath through your nose if you can and fill yourself full of oxygen and then release it when it feels comfortable to do so.
Realize that you are filled with creativity and mindfulness and all you have to do is allow this creativity to happen. Allow yourself to relax, allow your brain to relax. And that starts at the top of your head. Focus on that one point at the top of your head. And allow yourself to think of this as a string of relaxation. You're lowering that string down through your head and into your body. Out from that string of relaxation are waves of peace and waves of comfort, waves of relaxation. The waves of relaxation are emanating from the string as you're lowering it down. The string has magical powers.
It is so amazing how the string will cause you to become relaxed and cause your thoughts to open up. As you lower it down, you'll become more relaxed around your eyes and your forehead and your temples. You'll become more relaxed and you'll realize that you can go anywhere in your mind. Your creativity and mindfulness will begin to flourish. You can go anywhere in your thoughts. But you can do that more easily now.
As you move down with that string of relaxation, your jaw becomes more relaxed. Your teeth are more relaxed. You realize that you are letting go of tensions and letting go of stresses. Your mind is now becoming more open. You're inviting yourself to think thoughts that previously you've pushed away. These are thoughts of hope, thoughts of openness, thoughts of power, thoughts of success.
You know that you have incredible abilities. And maybe in the past, you've been overlooking those abilities. Maybe you haven't allowed yourself to be open to them. Maybe you've been too busy being critical. But you have incredible abilities. Just allow them to come to the surface. Allow yourself to know what those abilities are. \
As you lower that magical string, down through your head and into your body, all through your body is emanating relaxation. There’s a level of peace where you know that you can allow yourself to relax. Allow yourself to go where you haven't previously been able to go.
If you're walking in nature right now, just take in that nature as you breathe. And if you're meditating in one spot, imagine above you are the thick, dense leaves of a tree and it's like an umbrella over you. It's protecting you from the world. Nature is allowing your creativity and mindfulness to thrive and it's allowing you to go where you want and to be the person you want to be.
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