A holistic performance coach first taught me meditation techniques three years ago, when I was so blocked up I could hardly write. Soon I was doing three-minute breathing exercises as my morning tea brewed and two years later I tried a week long silent meditation retreat. In the meantime I’ve written my first book, launched a new service offering and reconnected with my creative voice. From finding more balance and flow to self trust and deeper truth, this is what my daily contemplative practice teaches me about creative process.
Big visionaries need big balance.
I’ve always had a gift for thinking big and seeing the highest potential of every person and situation. These imaginings can feel so detailed they draw me like a moth to the flame until I’m almost living in the vision itself. This is a powerful tool for creation, but needs to be balanced with something anchored to the present moment. When I start feeling stressed, flighty, impatient or overwhelmed, I know I’ve gone too far into dreamland and it’s time to come back. That’s where meditation is my go-to salve.
My mindfulness practice reminds me that yes, though my dreams are grand and enticing and impassioned, I don’t have to wait for their manifestation to be happy. The present moment is equally gorgeous and magical and rewarding. It’s all here right now.
Meditation puts me in the flow zone.
One of the greatest gifts of meditation has been learning continuity of attention. In a culture where our minds jump constantly from screen to screen and task to task, combined with a creative bent for free association, it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of obsessive thoughts. Meditation trains the mind to stay steady on one point of focus until your whole being is united in a single activity. “Being lost in the moment,” as people say. Losing track of time.
It’s harmony. Unity. Flow. With training, I’ve found a way to keep my body and mind in one place, working together and not divided against myself. As Kanye puts it: “Don’t let me get in my zone,” because he knows once he gets there, he’s in his power. We all are. Not to mention the feeling of warm contentment is unmistakable.
I build trust in myself.
In yoga, my teachers always challenge us: “Where can you soften in the pose? What can you let go?” They know that when the minimum amount of effort is exerted, a kind of grace follows. It means dropping from your head into your body and letting intuition take over. It’s tapping into the muse. The creative voice. I resisted this mysterious force for a long time because somehow in the process of growing up I lost trust in myself.
When I can let go of control during meditation, even for a moment, I build tolerance for the free fall. In short lapses I see it’s okay to hand over the reigns and let my subconscious drive for a bit. The more frequently I visit this place, the more comfortable I become, and the longer I can stay. In creativity, it means listening to my song more than I’m singing it. Channeling more than manipulating. This is the place where true art is born.
I find where the story ends and truth begins.
I’m a storyteller. Such a good storyteller, in fact, that I can convince myself of entire realities existing only in my mind (don’t believe me? ask my husband). Fantasy is a fun place to play as long as I can find my way back. When I’m confused or uncertain or doubtful, meditation is the anchor that always reveals the truth. It helps me feel underneath the tangled narratives to find something solid. The calmness of an untouched lake. The steadiness of the sea’s horizon.
Stories are the fabric of my life and one of the greatest gifts of mankind, and meditation helps me see them for what they are: words and concepts. This balance helps me enjoy the realm of imagination while connecting with the awareness, wisdom and inner guide that’s always beneath.
Mindfulness practice and creative process take me to the same place.
When I stopped letting the core of my being shine through in creative expression, I missed out on my greatest strength. Creative work combines craft and hard work and outside feedback but it starts with raw expression. Anything less isn’t art; it’s just a thing of the mind. This is why children are so free: they trust themselves, they’re always in flow and wholly present for what they’re doing. This is our true nature. Well-being is our birthright. Meditation helps me get back to that.
Ultimately the reason I meditate is the same reason I create: to tap into that ever-rewarding flow state and discover who I am. Whichever way I get there, it’s my favorite place to be.
Are you a creative person who doesn’t create? Let’s see if I can help.