In our previous blog, we talked about how, while often hard to spot, our creative thoughts are right there in our minds, just waiting to be noticed. So when we want to find ways to increase creativity levels, we simply need to give what’s already there a chance to be seen. By imagining the mind as a lake, its surface constantly rippling with thought, it’s easy to see how it just never seems to settle. And we get so caught up in the appearance of these ripples, the feeling of the mind firing from one thought to the next, it becomes impossible to calm. But with our creative thoughts lying below this moving surface, until we can calm the mind, they won’t be noticed. They’ll continue to be obscured by everything going on above.
So why is it that those moments of downtime in the day, a shower, a drive, a walk, tend to be when we often have our most fantastic ideas? These are times when our mind ‘traffic’ slows, and we’re given some respite from the constant rippling. Undistracted, the mind has a chance to calm, and find the clarity and headspace needed for creative thoughts to rise to the surface. Something else is also happening in these downtimes. It’s just as significant, but actually, more accurately, it’s something that’s not happening. It’s an absence of effort, of trying, of doing. Because the thing is, we get so used to ‘doing’ things, that the mind becomes narrow, limited, focused, and simply lacking the spacious quality that’s essential for creativity to flourish. So when the mind isn’t making an effort and is away from the usual distractions of work, TV, the internet or just racing from one thing to the next, it has a chance to wander. It’s off the leash, and can be free, even if just for a few minutes. Freeing the mind from its usual controlled, wall-to-wall thinking state, it begins to behave differently. It shows us what it can do when not bombarded with thought, and how it feels when it has the space for creative thinking.
Using downtime to unleash creativity can work. And sure, when it does, we can see the potential of a mind that has some space. The problem is, it’s a little hit and miss. We can’t guarantee that having a shower will give us that inspiration we need, or a drive will instantly increase our levels of creativity. However, if we train the mind in meditation and the application of mindfulness, we can teach it to find the space it needs for creativity and experience creative thought far more often. In fact, in this context, it’s accurate to refer to meditation as the "discovery and familiarity of creativity". It’s a bit like the happiness analogy in the Blue Sky animation. All it takes is to realize that the creativity we’re looking for is already there. We just need to sit back, and give it the chance to appear. And the more we do this, the more familiar it becomes.