Creating, not Judging – That’s Mindfulness Creativity
When we are practising the art of mindfulness creativity, the marks we make on the paper, the landscapes we photograph, the poems we write – become an experience of discovery and creation, with the emphasis on connection, attention, lightness and playfulness. Mindfulness creativity is all about process and becoming aware of the process – it isn’t focused on product or perfection. This can bring a great relief for us – to not have to worry about end results, to engage with a creative activity as children do, free from judgements or self-criticism, fully immersed in the present moment.
If you’re trying to get started with your writing, art or photography, creative mindfulness is a great jumping off point for rediscovering your creativity, or overcoming the doubts that stop you. For experienced writers and artists, adding mindfulness to an existing creative practice can make it feel more like play again – instead of work. It can help prevent burn-out by supporting sustainable working patterns and above all will bring a greater clarity and insight to your creative ideas.
Those who have an existing mindfulness practice, will find that introducing a creative element to it will allow them to deepen their insights and awareness. Many meditators have told me that they find it far easier to stay present and be mindful when they are doing a creative activity, than they do sitting on a cushion. For those who have never engaged in mindfulness practice, this can be a good way to explore and experience the benefits of mindfulness.
When teaching Mindfulness Creativity, I always encourage people to work quietly on their projects. It is fine to perhaps have a chat and exchange ideas etc when initially getting together as a group, but once we engage with our individual projects, it is important that we do so in quiet. The purpose of this is to tune out the left brain, the logical, rational side and to allow the right brain, the artist within, to shine through. This can encourage each of us to pay attention to our respective projects, and just let it flow. For some, at first this may seem a bit strange, like an instruction to follow in an environment that is supposedly promoting creative freedom. But after a few minutes of actually paying attention and becoming more aware to the feel of the brush on the canvas or the pen on paper etc. the smell of the materials and the sound of the tools being used and so on, something tends to shift. The ‘group’ and environment can seem to fall away and we become more deeply connected to what we are actually doing, fully engaged with ‘Being’ in that activity. My own experience of this has led to a connection that can feel like it‘s just me and my paintbrush – all else slips away and I become totally connected to my actions in each moment. Sometimes the connection is as so deep that all becomes one as if I was the paintbrush—we moved in unison. I felt the rough canvas underneath me, the warm breath, as I leaned closer and closer to the canvas, paying attention to some detail.
Fully immersing ourselves in a creative project (whatever it might be) activates a different part of our brain. We lose track of time and our surroundings. Minutes blend into hours, and there are no thoughts apart from what’s happening in the present. It’s very much an exercise in mindfulness. For some it can be their first taste of meditation, impermanence and being in the moment.
The right side of the brain is associated with creativity, intuition, visualising, emotions and daydreaming, among other things. Most of us don’t use it enough because we’re socialised to be logical and rational, thinking in terms of rules, goals, planning and structure. But, we can tap into that creative right brain—art is just one of the many ways of doing so.
Art can wake us up from the dream we normally live in. Art can shock us into truly being in the present moment, and true art does this without having to try too hard. It does this by simply existing. Mindfulness Creativity can create a space for people to just be, without expectations, without judgments and without having to hurry on to the next thing.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” It’s no surprise, then, that many people around the world use art as a means to deal with stress, trauma and unhappiness – or to just find greater peace and meaning in their lives. Art can not only help you deal with the negative stuff in life, but also help you appreciate and focus on the good things.