Many people think creativity is reserved solely for creative types, but whether you’re a stay at home mom trying to get your kids to eat veggies, or an entrepreneur looking for innovation, we all use creative energies on a daily basis. If you’re operating from a high baseline of accumulated stress, then whatever information your senses take in from the world around you will be clouded. And if you’re an artist, this is bad news, because the world is your source of ideas, which affects your creativity.
The creative process is often categorized as finding a new way of saying or doing something, but I define creativity as finding unexpected connection between two seemingly unrelated things. Take the Broadway show Hamilton for example. On paper, politics and rap music are unlikely creative partners, but they just happened to be two favorite things of Lin Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator. He was able to cognize a way to connect them both.
Artists who put themselves out there on a regular basis often face rejection before opportunity. Actors can face more rejection in one week than most adults experience in their lifetimes, but through meditation, we begin to clear out old accumulative stresses that can lead to anxiety, depression, and self-sabotaging beliefs.
There’s a word in Sanskrit called Samskaara, which translates to mental impressions. It’s the same word we get scar from in English. Many creatives can buy into an outdated myth that one must suffer for one’s art, which is a leftover misinterpretation from method acting as taught by the late Stanislavski, who later influenced Lee Strasberg. The technique would help actors access personal experiences from their past to help eliminate anything untruthful from their performances. It helped actors like Marlon Brando and Gena Rowlands move away from acting and access states of behavior onstage and onscreen.
But many actors can forget to utilize the second part of the process, which is accessing creativity and imagination. Without imagination, one is left with the ever repeating known of past experiences. As a result, many actors can pick at these Samskaaras or old scars, leaving them with the belief that they’re not talented enough without these old impressions.
Creative insights are being pulsed out all the time in nature. This is why more than one fashion house can produce similar designs in the same season and why there can be multiple films or plays on the same subject within the same year. Great creative ideas are like files in an iCloud ready to be downloaded. If we have too many programs running on our computer, or if we’re stressed and clinging to old hurty-poos, we can miss these impulses.
With meditation, we are accessing fulfillment where it is, inside, and delivering it where it is not, outside. And how does this happen? By using a mantra, the mind begins to settle, then body begins to settle and old stresses recorded in the physiology are dissolved. The mind will always be drawn to greater states of charm and fulfillment, which is located in the subtler layers of thinking. Meditation is simply a stress-relieving tool that helps us get there.
During meditation, you have direct access to your innermost self, the version of you that lies beyond your thoughts, stresses or struggles. We have more contact to the present moment, which is where our bliss and fulfillment resides. Then, we’re no longer under the spell of the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome, or the belief that our happiness lies on the other side of any person place, or thing. With present moment awareness, we can interact with creative impulses more elegantly and efficiently.
Other ways meditation enhances the creative process:
~It increases self-confidence by clearing away excess noise so that there’s more space for the creative process to occur. When we make unexpected connections and successfully interact with challenges or demands, we get a boost of bliss chemicals, which increases confidence and overall states of being.
~It diminishes anxiety by pulling back the lens. This allows the relaxation response to occur rather than fight or flight, so we can see where we’re spending our time and attention, which are our two most valuable assets.
~It increases connection, the front of the brain is working more cohesively with the back of the brain, which allows for lateral thinking, or solving problems in an indirect and creative approach.
And in my opinion, one of the most valuable assets for creatives:
~It creates perfect conditions for spontaneity, by accessing the present moment. For actors, this allows us to cut our work in half by trusting impulses in our work. The results are that our work suddenly becomes alive and more truthful, which is the stuff of great art. We can’t exercise spontaneity, but we can set up the perfect conditions for it, which is what meditation does.
I personally love meditation and creativity because they both allow for connection and evolution. If we pull back the lens, we can stop looking at differences, and then find the unity points that connect us all. This highlights the destructive themes in our life which are no longer sustainable. And by making the choice to let go, we can get on with the business of creating progressive change within ourselves.
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