“A mind that listens with complete attention will never look for a result because it is constantly unfolding; like a river, it is always in movement.”
–J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
Do you ever have a moment where you blame the lack of creative ‘flow’ on something outside of you? If so, this is a wonderful opportunity to uncover the sneaky little mind traps that stagnate the joy that is always accessible to each and every one of us, at any given moment.
These thoughts may sound something like, ‘If I had more money, I would feel more free,” or “If I had a lover, that person would feed me the energy I need,” or “If all these negative people around me stopped bothering me, I would be more productive.”
Notice how the story you’re telling yourself is affecting your physical state. What is going on in your face, your neck, shoulders, low back? How do your feet feel? Soften your breath as you do this body scan. Stay rooted in your feet and and check in with the mind. Is the thought still occurring? Now, imagine the feeling of what it’s like to be in the creative flow. Radiate that from your center and heart. Don’t worry about how you are going to get there, just visualize the outcome. Stay here for a few breaths. If thoughts arise in the mind that hook you on to a storyline, gently acknowledge the thought and imagine it moving away from you towards the infinte horizon. Check in again with your breath, your heart, your center. Stay here for a few breaths.
From here we will move into a process of inquiry. Purposefully conjure up the thought or scenario that is ‘preventing you’ from having a creative flow. Visualize exactly what is bothering you. Simply ask yourself, “Is that judgement true?” For example, “Is that true, that if I had more money, I would feel more free?” Whatever answer comes to you, know that there is no right or wrong. Now, still holding the scenario in your minds eye, ask yourself, “Is that absolutely true?” Again, approach this with the compassionate understanding that there is no right or wrong. The point of this step of inquiry is to expand beyond the issue and see how it feels in the context of absolute truth. The idea of ‘truth’ can be cerebrally charged, so try bringing the question to your heart.
Now that this space is actively engaged in a mindful way, ask yourself how believing this thought makes you feel. If the thought is about not having enough money, perhaps you feel depressed, unfulfilled, and anxious. If the thought is about needing a lover, perhaps you also feel depressed, unfulfilled, and anxious. Funny how different stories are essentially sprouted from this seeking type of thinking.
The last step of this inquiry is to simply ask yourself who you would be without this thought. For example, “Without the thought of needing more money to feel free and creative, I feel expansive, joyous, inventive, positive. Without the thought of needing a lover as my muse, I would feel confident, unconditionally loving to myself, and independent.”
The point of the inquiry is to un-hook oneself from the stories that perpetuate suffering and a false sense of reality. Without inquiry, one may end up blaming others for their lack of productivity all the way to the grave. You may ask, “After this process will I feel more creative?” I cannot answer that question. What I do know is that a calm mind is often a creative mind and that creativity ebbs and flows. Taking attention off of “being creative” may also be helpful. By focusing so hard on needing to be something, we can set ourselves up for standing in our own way. Go for a walk, do yoga, meet a friend for coffee, listen to your favorite album, take your project to the coffee shop, laugh our loud, read a good book!
We have the power of choice in every moment
And remember, we are not our thoughts. :0)
This process of inquiry is based on the Work of Byron Katie.