Some comments left on my previous post deserve a more lengthly reply, so I am posting them here.
First, I wish to explain my purpose in seeking that meditative stillness and openness. As any creativity book will tell you (Art & Fear, What We Ache For, The Artist’s Way) it is crucial to the development of any creative life. A still mind is a receptive mind, and it is receptivity that allows ideas to come and grow, for the Muse to speak to the artist within. When one is constantly bombarded with information and stimuli, the mind needs periods of rest–of wakeful sleep–boredom–calm–in order to process that information into useful memories and ideas. Meditation is a way of allowing–no, encouraging–that process to proceed at a smoother and more effective pace.
Now, in yesterday’s comments, Slip says: Maybe calming yourself is not the answer you are looking for.
It is not “calm” itself that I am looking for, but rather a sort of mental quietude–that state in which internal chatter is stilled and there is only awareness of externals, of the universal ebb and flow of ‘not-I.’ It is that ‘not-I’ that feeds the creativity that is in the ‘is-I’ that essence of myself that defines me. In that state the ‘not-I’ and the ‘is-I’ come to a true communion, where the creative fuel burns.
Perhaps my problem yesterday was that it was the wrong time to be seeking silence, since my mind is still so steeped in that tea of fertile thought. Or perhaps it was only my inexperience, and I judge myself to harshly, too quick to comdemn my failure rather than accept my creative impulse and then return to the act of meditating.
Puss adds this salient comment, once I must remember next time: Personally, I think when one is buzzing with creativity, it’s almost impossible to keep the mind still – you just have to go with it. There’ll be time enough for stillness when you’re tired!
The problem with this, however, is that I don’t want to run my creative impulse to the ground before refueling. If I run out of gas before the end of the journey, I will be stuck. I cannot predict where I will be stuck, but the middle of nowhere is not a good place to be stranded. How can I refuel? I would have to do all over again that long slow trudge through the mud of the self to find that gas pump. It is not easy, and its best to keep the flame burning by adding wood to the embers before it dies. That is what mindful awareness and openness is meant to do. Openness and stillness is the thermostat that regulates the temperature of the creative soul.
Martha in turn says something interesting, which considering her recent post, makes sense, (though I confess, I find it odd and counter-intuitve (Sorry Martha!)). She says: I would much rather have the creativity flowing than relaxation… but that’s just me 🙂
I find this counter-intuitive for reasons stated above. However, Martha–and I hope what I will say will help you get your flow back!–one need not be relaxed at the time of creative impulse in order to create. There is a cycle to it, a cycle of creativity and stillness, and each depends on the other. All the books I have read counsel that to dispel a creativity block, one needs to stop trying. Instead take a walk in silence, or do some yoga, or stare at a fire. Relax! Then, after an hour or two, or even a whole day, of doing nothing (this includes avoiding all forms of communicative media, eek!) return to the desk and breathe. Then simply “practice” working, without thinking that one IS working. And soon enough that creative flow will return, and the act or working becomes all.