Kickstarting our creativity

Let’s start with a little game. You can do this wherever you are. Grab your handbag or empty your pockets, or open the nearest drawer and randomly choose 3 objects. Doesn’t matter what.

Now figure out as many ways as possible to place these objects together on the nearest surface (yes this could be the floor of the subway, or your own hand). How many ways did you find? One, three,10, 27? We’ve just been kickstarting our creativity!

People so often say: “I am not creative”. Have they forgotten how they built castles out of two cardboard boxes when they were kids, how a stick could become a sword, mud a beautiful pie with little pebbles making the tufts of cream?

Somehow, the adult world has created (pun intended) this false belief that creativity can only be called that if it produces masterpieces and if it sells well. Otherwise, it’s considered dabbling, amateurism and mostly mediocre.

Nobody wants to be seen as mediocre. So we stop being creative. We put our creativity on a shelf, or worse, hidden in a dark corner of a basement or attic. Out of sight, out of mind.

The sad part is, that creativity needs to be used, to be activated, to allow it to come to its full expression. It’s like a muscle that needs to practice to become strong. If we don’t use our creativity muscle it will atrophy and become useless.

That’s why it is so easy to say that we are not creative. Once we have stored our creativity in a dark corner of our being, it does not get activated at all. It atrophies into a mere shadow of itself. We forget about its existence.

The good news is, that we can never totally deplete creativity.

Once we’ll take it off the shelf, reactivate it and start to practice that creative muscle, it will slowly grow in strength again, and our creativity will start to flow with more ease every time we use it.

Instead of trying to produce masterpieces, all we need to do is let our creativity practice its muscle, on play. Play with colours and shapes, with words, objects, ingredients, sounds, thoughts, options, solutions.

We cannot force the creation of something new by the intellect. But when we give our creative mind something to play with, eventually it will shape it into a new creation.

“The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”                ~ Stephen Nachmanovitch.

 

For all you people who have aspirations to meditate, or who are already doing it for some time and still find it impossible to tame that monkey mind, I have some good news and some bad news. 

Let’s start with the bad news: after years of meditating, mostly on a daily basis, and often for at least 30 minutes or more, yours truly still has a VERY LOUD MONKEY MIND. Well, I must admit it isn’t too bad in my case, because I do not have a very stressful life, plus I don’t have a partner and a family, which always cause a million worried, stressed or anxious thoughts a minute. My monkey mind does keep going endlessly though, but it is mostly story telling that goes on during my meditation or just a lot of remembering. It is mildly entertaining, so I often just get totally lost in thought. But in all these years of regular practice the moments of true stillness are hardly ever longer than 30 seconds, and few and far between. It took me a while to stop seeing that as a personal failure, and it took me even longer to stop finding it frustrating and unfulfilling. But that monkey does never put a lid on its chatter, EVER. So far the bad news. (Did I just crush all your hopes or motivation to even try and start meditating? Sorry for that, but keep reading…the good news will perk you up).

The good news is that I found a way of working with that monkey mind, and tame it in a different way. I’m happy to share it here. 

I am not a fan of one particular type of meditation, so I switch around between techniques now and then, and one of the things I regularly do is a combination of deep breathing with mantras (not out loud, just in my head) or positive affirmations. When I start such a meditation, I think I got the right phrases ready, but then when I get into it, I keep fiddling with the words for a bit, trying to find the perfect mantra for myself. One day it seemed that no phrase was the right one, so I kept fiddling for quite a while (what do you mean monkey mind in disguise?).