Our theme for creative flow practice this week is: How Mindfulness Optimizes Your Creative Process. Join us for morning meditation and f-r-e-e-writing practice here.
Are you looking forward to the creative week ahead? Below I map my creative intentions for my author business for this week (Week 43 Q3 2019), under the three hats a creative entrepreneur must wear: maker, manager, marketer.
Have you decided on your intentions for this week yet? Join us here, in our private facebook group, to map your creative week.
How Mindfulness Optimizes Your Creative Process
Mindfulness as a practice was introduced to the human race milennia ago and today’s science is confirming what the ancients knew. The practice has many benefits for mental and physical health and wellbeing but what has been less explored, until recently, is how mindfuness optimizes your creative process.
Going creative requires silencing of the cognitive control network (CCN), the logical, thinking, ruminating mind for a short time.
It is this part of our brain that generates mind’s constant chatter. From there comes that inner voice that judges ideas as stupid before they’ve had time to incubate, the inner critic who says “That’ll never work”, killing creativity dead before it’s had a chance to get going.
Quietening the CCN, opening a gap in the stream of thought, surfaces what scientists now call the default mode network (DMN), the intuitive, imaginative, insightful mind.
This has the effect of increasing your focus, fluency and the quality of your ideas and insights. It also feels great, like coming home.
From there, it is only a step to that condition that feels like it is beyond thought, beyond imaginings.
The practice of mindfulness is a conscious practice of such mind-quietening.
awareness. If you miss out the second stage or your mind is cluttered and noisy you may miss the Aha! stage. Practising mindfulness on a regular basis consciously stills the mind, reduces chaos, opens space in the mental clutter and noise, allowing illumination and enlightenment.
And allowing you to be more aware of good ideas and to have the mental focus and resilience to see them through.
How Mindfulness Optimizes Your Creative Process: Seven Stages
- Intention (Choosing): Mindfulness meditation optimizes the first stage of your creative process by ensuring that you are setting good intentions, not being led astray by more worldly desires, what other people think or do, or the thoughts and feelings generated by your own CCN. You gain clarity of intention.
- Incubation (Envisioning): Mindfulness meditation optimizes the second, often under-emphasised, stage of the creative process, by calming the mind, dissolving distracting thoughts, reducing anxiety and stress. Wear yourself out on the ideas phase is counter-productive. Therein lies the road to stagnation and block. Instead, try mindful creative rest and play, activities that don’t involve active thinking about the creative task in hand, like taking a bath while focussing completely on the task of washing and the experience of the water (creative rest); or going for a walk or run in nature and keeping the focus on a single object of intention, like the breath, or the touching of the feet landing on the ground (creative play). Such activities will optimize your creative process in this stage, allowing ideas, insights and intuitions to arise spontaneously, without conscious effort.
- Investigation (Researching): When we are researching creative projects, there’s everyday research, but there is also the research of memory and imagination. Lie back and consciously free your mind to search your memory first, and then your imagination, for related remembrances or imaginings. Mindfully enter these creative thoughts using your five senses: see, hear, taste, touch, smell what happened in the past, what could happen whenever. Such visualization and sensualization is a form of mindfulness that can greatly optimize your creative process.
- Formation (Drafting): This phase of the creative process is all about moving out of your imagination and inner world into the material world. Here’s where it gets real and here’s where it can begin to feel more challenging. Doing any form of mindfulness meditation before and during your making sessions helps enormously. In this stage, mindfulness optimizes your creative process by will see you less distracted, more focused and more open to insights and ideas as you draft your first outlines and blueprints.
- Elaboration (Deepening): This fifth stage of the creative process is often overlooked but it is the crucible of creativity. Here is where we start to bring CCN and DMN, conscious and subconscious, conceptual and creative mind, together, where we become aware of how one relies on the other. We look for what was best in our blueprint. We acknowledge what we’ve done well, though there is correction and clarification and refinement still to come. Mindfulness meditation can help to hush your inner critic, minimize self-critical distractions and move you into a state of flow for optimal production.
- Clarification (Refining): In this phase, where the veil of reality is laid over your genius idea, it is important to stay focused, positive and motivated without getting defeated. Even if the first attempt doesn’t get you the results you want, each time adds to the next. Exercise and mindfulness meditation optimize your refinement process by keeping your focussed, keeping your critical faculties in place. They are utterly necessary to this phase but while they make great servants, they are unruly and unreliable masters. You’ll make faster progress by keeping the critic in its proper place, so the creative can forge ahead.
- Completion (Finishing): It’s astonishing how many projects get derailed just at the end. Most fall off just before or during early drafting and here, just before finishing. Erica Jong once said: “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged…I had poems which were re-written so many times… it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” Mindfulness meditation gives you the creative courage to overcome the avoider, to put production before perfection and to get this project finished so you can move to the next.
Mapping Creative Intentions Week 43, 2019
In our Go Creative! in Business group, each Monday we outline our creative intentions to each other. And then we follow up on a Saturday with what we’ve actually accomplished during the week. What’s unique about our group is that our report is given under the three hats a creative entrepreneur must wear: that of Maker (who produces), Manager (who processes) and Maximizer (who promotes). Join the group to map your intentions and log your accomplishments.
Here are my intentions for the coming week:
- MAKER: Next two chapter of Creative Self-Publishing and my monthly exclusive poem for Patreon patrons
- MANAGER: Getting the accounts done revealed a receipts filing backlog to catch up on and a new process to set in place going forward.
- MARKETER: More books to put up on Amazon now and improving the review and tweaking.
That’s what I’ll be up to in my author business. What about you? What will you be producing, processing or promoting this week?
Do pop over to our Go Creative! in Business Facebook group, where we support and motivate each other. It’s completely free, there’s no selling or self-promotion, and you can leave anytime if it isn’t the right fit for you. You’ve nothing to lose and it may be just the creative boost you need.