“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” – Einstein
Accessing and acting upon unique thoughts and perceptions is among the deepest and most satisfying aspects of being human. You may consider yourself to be more or less creative than your peers, but regardless of where you view yourself to be on the spectrum, there have probably been times when you wished for some stroke of magic that would ignite the creative fire. During those times, it is all too evident that creativity cannot be programmed or forced; it can only be allowed. Cultivating certain habits, however, will invite or stimulate the flow of creativity and once those habits become a part of our lives, we discover that creative energy flows as naturally and consistently as does the breath.
Tune in to the right side of your brain
Creative ideas and expressions emerge from the intuitive mind, or the right brain. You can stimulate and strengthen your right brain by engaging in artistic endeavors, but it is also essential to know how to turn down the dominant activity of the left brain. Begin this process by learning to turn off mental chatter. (This is a skill that is practiced in meditation, so if you don’t already practice meditation, you may want to begin.) Empty the mind regularly. Give yourself permission to daydream. If you set an intention before going into the silence, you may be amazed to discover how powerful your intentions are!
Perhaps the most effective way to open a channel to the right brain is to practice observing your thoughts and responses in a detached manner. Releasing judgment of your thoughts and feelings allows them to expand. As you learn to observe your thoughts, dismiss those that are narrow, limiting, cumbersome or distracting.
Creative ideas spring from varied perceptions and sources
Because the seeds of our own creative ideas and works surround us, it makes sense to develop our ability to notice them. Begin to increase your attention to details in your environment. Wake up your senses! (Remember to listen, as well as look, feel, touch and taste.)
Surround yourself with creative people and creative works – it’s not only fun, it’s guaranteed to stimulate your own creativity. Go to art galleries and concerts. Read. Choose stimulating and fresh entertainment over that which is mind-dulling, predictable or manipulative.
Learn to see events and circumstances in ways that extend beyond your normal perceptions. See humor or oddity, find beauty, experience compassion. Tap into wisdom that lies beyond your daily awareness by learning to find connections and to understand symbols and metaphors. Study and enjoy the rich messages in fairy tales, myths and stories. Look for signs or insights in seemingly trivial events. Find a larger meaning or a deeper message in the details of your life and become aware of all that is presented to you, personally.
Ego-driven goals conflict with and distract from the accessing of intuitive information
It’s easy to become distracted by the ego. If we succumb to that distraction, however, we will suffer from insecurity and be tormented by thoughts and questions that sabotage our creative goals: “How will my work be received? Do I look, sound or act intelligent or talented? Will my song (painting, book) sell?” When you recognize that you have fallen into the ego’s trap, make it a point to suspend all judgment and turn off expectations. Remember that what you create doesn’t have to be cool, provocative, serious art or even a finished piece. Instead, cultivate creativity as a lifestyle – something that can be accessed when writing an email, choosing your clothes for the day or setting a table for a meal. You are, by nature, creative. Relax and enjoy it!
Commit to innocence and authenticity in your creations, without regard for consequences, either positive or negative. Give yourself permission to be expressive in all that you do.
Pressures, schedules and deadlines rein in and corral creative potential and expression
Set aside time to write, draw or play music. A lot of “free” time, without structure or discipline, can deteriorate into slouch time; by the same token, a tight creative time frame is like a tight shoe – it’s unpleasant and it doesn’t take you very far. Carve out broad periods of time and then disallow distractions during that time, such as emails or telephone conversations. Daydreaming, however, is allowed and encouraged!
Soften your eyes to open your mind
Learn how to soften your visual perception, so that your field becomes broad and limitless. Relax and expand your focus – or close your eyes completely. Allow your internal eye to drift into the distance while following thought streams. When you broaden your perception, you may notice that you access specific types of information from different parts of your visual field and that you can successfully connect the thoughts and images that flow into that field.
You are a unique individual with unique requirements for optimum patterns of work, rest, social time and exposure to external stimulation. Many people, for example, generate ideas best by working in a team, while others feel overstimulated or squelched in the company of others. Discover the environment that best nurtures your creative self.
Not only is the amount of solitary time a crucial element in a creative lifestyle, but the quality of that time must be considered. Fatigue or physical discomfort can sabotage a creative session, as can emotional upsets or distractions. Strive for mental and physical clarity during times that you want to express creatively.
Achieving the optimum balance often requires not only self-discipline, but also a willingness to educate the people in your life as to your plan. Once you’ve found that balance, honor it!
For news of upcoming creativity workshops (as well as other workshops), visit the calendar page.