Reclaiming Your Creative Mind

Poet Federico García Lorca
Poet Federico García Lorca

Last time: Creative v Conceptual Intelligence.

Let's continue with this over-simplified way of thinking about our brains as having two major ways of gleaning intelligence about the world that seem to be opposed to each other: an outer-directed, ego-centred self that perceives the physical, sense-bound, phenomenal world (conceptual Intelligence); and an inner-directed spirit-centred self that perceives the metaphysical, free, imagined world (creative Intelligence).

We can also usefully describe these two as “thingness” and “nothingness”.

Consider a page of writing.  Black marks on white paper. The marks are full of meaning — for the person who wrote them and for the person who reads them. Between this meaning, between the words and between the letters, is space. The words always get much more of our attention but both words and space are necessary to meaning. A page with only marks on it is all black.

Unreadable. Meaningless.

The more space around the words, the more meaningful they generally are, one of the reasons a page of poetry is more eloquent than, say, a page of legalese.

As with writing, so with life. We have the content of our lives – the thoughts, feelings, events, experiences, stuff, people. The “thingness” of life, if you like. This we notice.

But also always there is the  “no-thingness”. The space that lies within, around and beyond. It too is necessary. It is what opens out those thoughts and feelings, those events and experiences, those people to us.

Nothing is what makes everything.

Reclaiming our creative mind is about reclaiming the power of nothing.

The Power of Nothing.

This power can be glimpsed, never grasped, in openness, emptiness, space, silence and stillness. What all these “nothings” have in common is that they are indivisible. They are our human glimpse of the infinite and cannot be divided up, or parsed out.

This is why in Inspiration Meditation, we train the mind to notice the space between the words. This space has long been recognised as the font of creative ideas and insights.

The great Spanish poet, Frederico Garcia Lorca, called it “dark water”: water that gathers its darkness from the fact that it is deep.

He spoke also of black sound, the deep, empty, dark sounds that resonate with “the mystery, the roots… the fertile silt that gives us the very substance of art”.

For Lorca this was duende, a Spanish word that has no direct translation in English, for which the closest approximation is “soul”. Duende is the heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity that accompanies the creative experience, the “mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains”.

This is the power of the creative.  We will speak next time of how creative intelligence is not just something we bring to literature, art and music.  Each and every moment of our lives can be met with a consciously creative approach. Once we understand its workings, principles and process, we can apply it to any aspect of life – relationships, hobbies, money, work.

Wonderful as that is, it does call for a particular kind of effort. You must go beyond the given. In writing and art, the ‘given’ takes the form of cliche, of tried-and-tested forms and ideas. In life, the ‘given’ includes the societal dynamics into which we are born; the friends, relatives or work colleagues who know what we should do or say or think.

And the attitudes, beliefs, concepts, denials and expectations that make up our habitual thoughts and feelings about what is possible or desirable.

It also calls on us to become comfortable with the unknown. With solitude, emptiness and mystery.  The power of nothing.

Opening up to new dimensions of freedom and possibility in this way is exhilarating but it can also be frightening. For  these reasons, people often resist their own creative spirit.

“Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline,” says Lorca. “We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand.”

Next Time: Fostering The Creative State