Drawing, painting or even your kid’s coloring book: Creativity as a spiritual practice.
When was the last time you made art?
A sketch on the back of a receipt? 5 minutes with your kid’s coloring book? Writing a poem? Building a sand castle? Leaving your lover a note on the mirror – in lipstick?
And when you made that art, how did it feel? Soothing? Energizing? Holy?
(Sidenote: If you say it’s art, then it’s art.)
My art-making mode of the moment is coloring in an old fashioned coloring book. Oh yeah.
I usually pick up my crayons when I’m feeling disconnected and confused. Basically, any moment of un-holiness is prime coloring time for me.
Coloring is medicine for my soul.
When I color, I can clearly hear my intuition (or you might prefer to use the words God, or Higher Self) so making decisions becomes so much easier, and the peace I’m a junkie for, arrives within seconds. For me, it is that immediate. That profound.
All that from a coloring book and a 95 cent box of crayons.
Creativity and Spirituality
When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It’s up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new.
Losing Yourself in the Divine:Creativity as a Spiritual Practice
by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., A.T.R.
When you create you lose yourself in your creation. Time seems to stand still and all else is forgotten. You participate in the divine play that is creativity. These moments offer a glimpse of who you really are: a being fashioned in the image and likeness of the Infinite. Like the source of all creation, you are a creator, too. It is your divine birthright. The person who says “I’m not creative” is uttering blasphemy. The truth is that you are the Creative Self-expressing through the human vessel of your body, emotions, mind, and soul. Creativity flows through you as a universal life force, called by many names throughout the ages: chi, prana, shakti, the Holy Spirit. It is this energy of love flowing through you that also gives life to your creations.
The medium in which you create is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether you write a business proposal, play a piano sonata, or prepare a delicious meal. You may be seeking to resolve one of life’s mundane problems or express deep feelings and insights through poetry. Embrace your creation as a lover and you can break through to another realm. When you stick with it for better or for worse, your creation becomes your guru (Sanskrit meaning “from darkness to light”).
Losing yourself in the divine embrace of the creative process, you disappear. Your ego or limited sense of separateness vanishes, and you emerge into the vast ocean that is creativity. This is an altered state of intuitive awareness in which you renounce control from your head alone. Instead, you allow the Creative Self to flow through your heart, your body, and your intuition. Then you are taken to places you can never go in your ordinary waking state. This road leads eventually to moments of divine bliss described by ecstatic poets like Rumi, Kabir, and Lalli.
The desire to realize the natural high found in peak moments of creativity is so basic that, if given no healthy outlet for this urge, people turn to alcohol or drugs for a simulated version. These counterfeit forms inevitably backfire, for they violate an essential ingredient: the human vessel for containing the Creative Self. And that vessel – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – can be shaped only through hard work and awareness. We must harmonize these four aspects of our being. For instance, the body and emotions need time to digest flashes of inspiration the soul and mind receive. After participating in laboratory controlled experiments with LSD many years ago, author Anaîs Nin concluded that she didn’t need drugs to get high. Her writing had always taken her to a state of heightened awareness. Nin had kept a journal since childhood, developing her craft every day of her life. Regular writing practice was the cauldron in which Nin, the novelist and essayist, was formed. Interestingly, it is her diaries (published in several volumes) that are best known, even though she hadn’t originally intended them for publication.
There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. In fact, mistakes are honorable. They are how we learn. But if we think we’re above it all, our egos will be burned in the fire of truth. Through embarrassment we find we didn’t know it all. We couldn’t slide past the truth. What we missed or chose to ignore inevitably trips us and grounds us again in earthbound reality. Brought back to our senses and to the matter at hand, we are reminded of our human being-ness. That is the vessel for our divinity. Try to escape that fact and Infinite Spirit or the Goddess has no place to reside in us.
If you are devoted to the Creative Self, you will encounter the same tests described in the writings of saints and mystics throughout the ages. These include highs and lows, agonies and ecstasies, inspired moments, and dark nights of the soul. Some periods feel charged with “greening” (to use Hildegard of Bingen’s term). Juicy and fertile, you are full of aha” moments – breakthroughs and discoveries. Inspiration gushes like a geyser.
At other times you feel dry, lost in an arid desert of disinterest, depression, and barrenness. Emptiness prevails and you wonder if maybe you haven’t lost your talent and skill along with your connectedness to the source of creation. You are haunted with questions like Will I ever have another creative idea? Am I all dried up? Have I used all the creativity rationed to me in this lifetime? A battle with the demons of self-judgment rages within.
The literature of both art and mysticism abounds with descriptions of this phenomenon, a black void that seems totally enveloping and all-pervasive. Read the words of biblical figures like Job, poets like Saint John of the Cross and Rainer Maria Rilke, spiritual leaders like Saint Teresa of Avila, artists like Vincent Van Gogh. They all gave voice to the darkness within where, paradoxically, the Creative Self is to be found. Artist and recovered mental patient Mary Barnes once wrote, “In order to come to the light, I have to germinate in the dark.”
You don’t have to go out of your way to find these experiences. We all face our terrors at one time or another. Its part of the human condition – losing a job, filing for divorce, going into bankruptcy, having a serious accident, dealing with a life-threatening illness or the aftermath of a natural disaster, surviving the death of a loved one or the loss of a love. But if you see crisis as an opportunity, an invitation to personal renewal, then life itself becomes a creative process.
Those on the creative path who have journeyed fully into inner darkness and have come back to tell the tale seem to be saying, “These are the dues you have to pay. Life will pound you vigorously. Can you stand up to it? Do you have the strength and tenacity? Do you trust the creative process? Have faith in the source of creation.”
Life’s tests are the kiln fire that transforms us into conscious vessels of the Creative Self. However, if we cannot embrace challenges as teachers, our human clay can explode. Unable to handle the heat, some cast themselves as victims and become bitter. They may become violent, depressed, take refuge in addictions, resort to criminal behavior, become irretrievably insane, or even commit suicide.
In serving the work, truth is everything. For example, what we ignore comes back to haunt us. Weak spots a writer glosses over in a manuscript, baking soda the chef forgets to add to the cake mixture, specifications the designer leaves out of an architectural blueprint become teachers. The pot that cracks apart in the kiln was not wedged properly in the first place. The results never lie.
How can the human vessel contain the limitless divine Creative Spirit? Like the birth of a baby, it’s a mystery yet it happens every minute. Here the discipline side of the creative process is essential. It has been said that art is 5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration. The same can be said for the creative process of living. You show up each day, do the work (whatever form it takes), follow where your next inspiration leads, and pay attention as the challenges unfold. This is as true in your occupation as it is in your personal life. When you are committed to seeing your life as a work in progress – as the creative process beckoning to you – then creativity becomes your spiritual practice.
Day after day your devotion to creativity will enable you to merge with your Creative Self. Your destiny will unfold from within. Your life will become the unique work of art it was meant to be. An ancient Chinese story tells of an old master ceramist developing a new glaze for his vases. Each day he carefully regulated the heat in his kiln, worked painstakingly with the chemistry of the glazes, and experimented with them over and over. He labored devotedly day after day, yet the effect he had envisioned continued to elude him. Having applied his vast store of knowledge and skill and having exhausted his human power, the master concluded that his life was over. He climbed into the kiln to be fired along with his vases. When his apprentices opened the kiln, they beheld a magnificent sight. All the glazes were sheer perfection, like nothing their master had ever achieved. He had become one with his creation.
In embracing creativity as our spiritual practice, we commend ourselves into the Creator’s hands, knowing that our goal is to disappear. And when we do, we become one with all creation. The divine spirit dances us, it plays its music through us. We become the instrument through which the divine flows like a river to the sea. All the pilgrimages, all the prayers and chants in all the temples and churches of the world are meaningless unless we are devoted to living in and through the Creative Self, to live as the image and likeness of The Infinite Spirit.
If life force energies are not moving creatively, they will become destructive (as so-called holy wars have taught us). Destructiveness is the Creative Self turned upside down. Something has taken a wrong turn, and, like cancer, it devours the source of its life. The cure is found in creativity.
When your Creative Self calls, go with it. It is The Infinite Spirit speaking. Listen to your Creative Conscience, the voice of the divine guiding you each day. It resides in your heart. Go there and roam. That is your true temple
Tchaikovsky on the “Immeasurable Bliss” of Creativity, the Mystical Machinery of Inspiration, and the Evils of Interruptions
by Maria Popova
The creative process, cracked open at its rawest.
“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood,” legendary composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote in 1878 in a letter to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, attesting to what psychologists have since demonstrated empirically — that “grit” is more important than inborn ability and “deliberate practice” outweighs talent in the quest for creative mastery. And yet, like most artists, Tchaikovsky himself was a creature of paradoxical convictions and despite scoffing at the notion of being “in the mood,” he gave great credence to the parallel concept of inspiration — so much so that he once turned down a handsome commission from Von Meck because he believed that producing a piece of music out of commercial motives rather than genuine inspiration would constitute “artistic dishonesty.”
From the timelessly excellent The Life and Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (public library; public domain) comes the beloved composer’s raw account of inspiration, an electrifying articulation of what T.S. Eliot once called the mystical quality of creativity and countless other creators have echoed over the years.
Responding to an 1878 letter from Von Meck, Tchaikovsky describes “those vague feelings which pass through one during the composition”:
It is a purely lyrical process. A kind of musical shriving of the soul, in which there is an encrustation of material which flows forth again in notes, just as the lyrical poet pours himself out in verse. The difference consists in the fact that music possesses far richer means of expression, and is a more subtle medium in which to translate the thousand shifting moments in the mood of a soul. Generally speaking, the germ of a future composition comes suddenly and unexpectedly. If the soil is ready — that is to say, if the disposition for work is there — it takes root with extraordinary force and rapidity, shoots up through the earth, puts forth branches, leaves, and, finally, blossoms. I cannot define the creative process in any other way than by this simile. The great difficulty is that the germ must appear at a favorable moment, the rest goes of itself. It would be vain to try to put into words that immeasurable sense of bliss which comes over me directly [when] a new idea awakens in me and begins to assume a definite form. I forget everything and behave like a madman. Everything within me starts pulsing and quivering; hardly have I begun the sketch, before one thought follows another.
Scene from Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker,’ the most popular ballet in the world, with set design by Maurice Sendak (Photograph © Angela Sterling)
Tchaikovsky admonishes against the outside interruption of this state, known in contemporary psychology as “flow” — a cautionary lament all the more prescient today, in our age of constant bombardment with distractions and demands on our attention, the worrisome repercussions of which on our cognition and creative capacity philosophers have warned about for decades and psychologists are only just beginning to understand. Tchaikovsky writes:
In the midst of this magic process it frequently happens that some external interruption wakes me from my somnambulistic state: a ring at the bell, the entrance of my servant, the striking of the clock, reminding me that it is time to leave off. Dreadful, indeed, are such interruptions. Sometimes they break the thread of inspiration for a considerable time, so that I have to seek it again — often in vain.
And yet, he sees these interruptions of inspiration as inevitable and finds an antidote in the steadfast application of technical skill, the sort of mastery acquired through deliberate practice:
In such cases cool head work and technical knowledge have to come to my aid. Even in the works of the greatest master we find such moments, when the organic sequence fails and a skillful join has to be made, so that the parts appear as a completely welded whole. But it cannot be avoided. If that condition of mind and soul, which we call inspiration, lasted long without intermission, no artist could survive it. The strings would break and the instrument be shattered into fragments. It is already a great thing if the main ideas and general outline of a work come without any racking of brains, as the result of that supernatural and inexplicable force we call inspiration.
More of the great composer’s wisdom endures in The Life and Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Complement it with legendary songwriter Carole King on inspiration vs. perspiration and Vladimir Nabokov on the “prefatory glow” of inspiration, then revisit Graham Wallace’s pioneering 1926 guide to the four stages of creativity, the third of which reflects the phenomenon Tchaikovsky describes.
MAKING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SPIRITUALITY & CREATIVITY
by Jan Groenemann
The creative person sees the potential that actually does exist though it may not be realized in the near future, or even in this lifetime. The creative person sees beyond the physical dimension through his or her inner eye. Perhaps the creative person sees into the spiritual being where the complete, whole, and perfect being is not just becoming but already is.
In her book, Transformers, Jacqueline Small states, “We are two selves, a spiritual (unified) self and a material (fragmented) self… The spiritual self is Truth because it is our original blueprint, complete though unmanifested.” The material self is part of our human condition and not to be discarded; it should come under the control of the spiritual self.
When each has found its rightful place and is functioning according to its purpose, it strengthens the other. This results in a more balanced, energetic, profound, and peaceful personality. When the material self (the ego self) is in control, it is as if we have forgotten who we are. We become timid, afraid, easily threatened. We build defenses to protect us from some undefinable danger. Many times we are so fearful of encountering ourselves that we escape into addictions, obsessions, anger, and blame. Even hobbies and busyness can serve as escape hatches. We are so full of painful emotions, usually brought with us from childhood, that we think we can’t cope with feeling. We shut down, turn off, and thus our creativity is halted. Most of us carry within our self a wounded child. Healing the wounded inner child is dependent upon finding your inner self. Knowing yourself empowers and enables you to parent the inner child thereby healing his or her wounds.
The inner self is the spiritual self. It is your authentic self. By getting in touch with who you really are, you find a safe place from which pain and loss can be observed rather than feared. You can begin to understand your specialness, your uniqueness. You find that deep within you this inner being is more spiritual and more creative than you have ever imagined. Allowing this self to flow into expression through the creative process is a healing experience.
Peter London writes in No More Secondhand Art, “Art is a prayer… a fresh vital discovery of one’s own special presence in the world.” The discovery of our inner being is vital to a healthy concept of self. To know this inner person is to learn to love the self. Love of self is a prerequisite for the ability to love others. We must learn to see the inner godness and beauty within ourselves before we can see the goodness and beauty in others.
I have long been aware of two voices within myself. The one is demanding, fearful, clamoring to be heard. It tends to be loud and easily hurt – quick to feel rejected. At the same time, even in moments of extreme emotional upset, I am aware of a still small voice saying, “You really know better than to react like this. Isn’t this rather childish?” I used to laugh about this “little voice over my right shoulder” that refused to allow me to feel sorry for myself or to revel in my hurt feelings for any length of time. As I learned to practice periods of quiet meditation, I began to hear more from this inner voice, my spiritual self. I began to recognize it as the voice of a higher power. It was soft, peaceful, calm, non-judgmental, loving – a direct contrast to my emotional or ego voice, as if it were a direct contact with the Spirit of my Creator. I began to understand that placed with the human being is a knowing which I recognize as the indwelling Spirit. I believe this Spirit is our guide to the Truth. Various religions throughout the world use other names, Universal Consciousness, the Absolute, the Higher Power, but they address this same indwelling.
The search for that higher power usually takes place outside ourselves – yet, here is the divine Spirit right within, speaking in a still small voice. I recall that Christ emphasized to his followers that “the Kingdom of God is within,” but they, too, found it difficult to comprehend the inward journey. When we learn to quiet our emotional clamoring’s, we become aware of this indwelling Spirit speaking to us on a very intimate level. This experience is as fulfilling as “seeing” a burning bush. It is a reminder that, in the words of Marsha Sinetar, “we are all divine, all linked mysteriously, while each of us remains separate, unique. We need to respect, even encourage, the diversity amongst ourselves, maintaining a clear core of self all the while and serving one another, too.” We have within us everything we need with which to discover our unique purposes in life – we have only to learn to hear our spiritual (inner) voice and see through our spiritual (inner) eye. Letting go of the fear means letting go of the frantic search for fulfillment through the material self.
WHAT IS A SPIRITUAL CREATIVE?
by Linda Seger
Most of us who are in the arts define ourselves as creative. Many of us who also are committed to a spiritual life may have heard this term “a Spiritual Creative” and used it to identify ourselves. What does it mean? Why is it an important term as a motivator for our creative lives?
A Spiritual Creative is someone who feels called, or led, or guided to do their artistic work by a Higher Power. They serve this Higher Power by trying to get out of their own way. This interference is often referred to as ego. Many Spiritual Creatives feel that ego can muffle the Voice of the Spirit.
Personal gain or passion is not the key motivating force. It isn’t just a matter of enjoying the creative work, or finding that their work is the best way to get affirmed by others, or finding that they can make money doing something that is fun and enjoyable. Spiritual Creatives feel their work is important in more than just political, or social, or individual ways. They may phrase this in a number of ways. Some say that they add Meaning and Value to life through their artistic expression. Some say they work to “build up the Kingdom of God.” They see themselves as Givers, here to make the earth a better place to live for others.
A Spiritual Creative usually feels that they are led and nurtured in their creative life by The Spirit, which can be defined in a number of ways. Some say the Holy Spirit works through them. Others say that they feel moved and guided by The Creator. The Source. The Divine. Or that they’re in touch with The Sacred. This Spirit puts them in the flow. These Spiritual Creatives come from all walks of faith, even some who may be non-believers in a God, per se, but feel a positive connection with all humankind.
The goal of the Spiritual Creative usually falls within several different arenas. For many, there is a desire and a sense of responsibility to tell the truth through their art. The Truth tells us something about the human condition, about how things work, about what’s important in life. The ideas they express are not meant to be haphazard or arbitrary, and creativity is not meant to just be for fun, but the artist feels the work is sacred, perhaps even defined as a Sacred Trust. Finding the truth, exploring the truth, and finding a way to express the Truth becomes part of the work. And if the truth is told, but not accepted, many Spiritual Creatives would still judge their work by whether they stayed true to what they perceive as their calling.
Often an artist is not recognized until after their death, because the truth they were expressing was too hard for society to embrace; but nonetheless, this contribution moves society in a new and better direction.
For some, the goal is also to create Joy. Not just to make things fun or to create work that makes others laugh and is entertaining, but to encourage the Spirit of Joy. Actress and Acting Teacher Nina Foch says it’s almost impossible to work creatively in a condition of discord. She says no matter the situation, even if it’s playing a dark scene or writing a dark story, the creator says “I’m going to create joy today.” Spiritual Creatives share a deep sense of Joy that comes from illuminating life and feeling they’re fulfilling their mission.
For Spiritual Creatives, success is not defined by numbers – not by the amount of money made or the number of people who know their name. Success is more apt to be defined by whether the artist did the work well, whether the artist told the truth, whether the work touched the audience or even changed and transformed the reader, viewer or audience.
For many, the work is about change and transformation toward becoming better, more fulfilled people and for the ways that art can do this. They aim to inspire, encourage, enlighten and uplift. For the writer and actor and dancer, transforming the character may lead to transformation within individual audience members. For the painter or photographer, the work might change the attitude, or the ideas, or sometimes even the behavior of the viewer. In the process of exploring the subject matter, the artist might also be changed. For the Spiritual Creative, the goal is often to be open to their own changes, as well as to hope to change the others in some important way, whether large or small. The Creative knows that change is not always easy, but frames the work with a sense of destiny being guided by a divine hand working in their lives. The author and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “What is to give light, must endure burning.” The Spiritual Creative is willing to go through the fire.
Screenwriter William Kelley who won an Academy Award for the film, Witness, says, “Writing is holy. We are keepers of the flame. We sit down at our dulcimer and try to steal a little fire from heaven. We are keepers of the word – we must know the word, the proper words. We must know what words mean, and we must know if there’s a better word. And we are keepers of the gate, we see darkness and we try to light a candle. We try to be proper citizens of what we occupy.”
Our work is a trust, a responsibility, a calling and a blessing. We know, deeply, how important the arts are, and we try to illuminate life, truth, and the human condition through what we do, and through that, add some bit of light to the world.
Why Creativity Is The Most Important Quality You Have
By PRESTON WATERS
Creativity is something that many look beyond and don’t even think of as something of importance in the world of business, or in the nature of the success you build for yourself. Creativity is one of the greatest qualities any of us can be blessed with, yet many never allow their true creativity to be expressed.
Our society doesn’t approve of creativity, nor does it ever encourage it. Why? Because it never wants people to think for themselves or create their own paths in life. Think back from the point you were a child to the point you are an adult- you are always told what to do by society and that you have to do it.
School actually limits our creativity more than anything else because it is so egregious and is solely focused on how well you can cram and memorize things you will forget right after the fact, which is why we all hate it.
Pablo Picasso “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
What many don’t realize is that the reason society does this to us is because it doesn’t want us to think for ourselves. It basically wants us to be robots and live the average, pedestrian, American dream that entails nothing more and nothing less than what our basic needs are.
Because our creativity is stripped by the time we are ready to enter into the real world, many decide to take the easy way out and get that job that doesn’t require much effort, forever living life the way society wants us to rather than the way we ourselves want to.
This is the exact reason why so many become miserable before their 30s and feel like they have gone nowhere in life. This is the exact reason why so many people within Generation-Y are so lost in life and have no idea what route to take when it comes time to making a decision.
Dr. Seuss – “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try”
The reason they have no idea what they want to do is because they hate everything they do- all because society is telling them what to do rather than allowing us to create our own ideas and make our own decisions.
In today’s business world the only way to separate yourself from the rest is not with your fancy resume that you printed at Kinkos, or your GPA that you basically overdosed on Adderall in order to attain. It is how well you can think for yourself and actually use your creativity that separates you from everyone else.
When most people out there see a problem, they just complain about it instead of trying to resolve it because they never had to use their creativity to problem shoot before.
We live in a world that is constantly becoming innovated with new concepts, ideas and technology. Having the creativity to help innovate something that has never been created before- anything from a product to a piece of art- is all based on where your mind wants to take you. But so many never even allow their mind to journey out of their cubicle, but instead get stuck in that cubicle for the rest of their lives.
People in today’s world need to realize that individuals in leadership positions must be creative and become creative problem solvers as these are skills of the future. You need to unleash your creativity and understand how important it truly is to have it flourish throughout your life and career.
Charles Mingus – “Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity”
Many times in today’s world there is little time to no time allocated towards real thinking and brainstorming, or even experimentation without judgment. With so much pressure to produce quick results in the current economic environment, it may seem like a luxury to walk away from the mountain of tasks to be accomplished.
What you need to understand is that your creativity is what makes your life fun and is what gets you excited each and every day you wake up in the morning.
That is when you allow yourself to be your true self- you must stop worrying about what other people think or say about you. If you have fun doing it and it keeps you constantly thinking and trying to figure out a new and better way, then that is what you need to focus on in life because creativity is what pushes passion.
Think about it like this: How many times have you heard about a producer say he was up all night working on a song? Or an artist working 5 days straight on a new piece? They don’t complain about it; they love it and live for their creativity, allowing it to push them beyond their limits and above their boundaries.
Steve Jobs – “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while”
When you allow your creativity to prosper, don’t even worry about money because that comes as a result. You will truly live life when you are doing what you like to do, what excites and challenges your mind each and every day. That is what allows you to inspire those around you and have them work their ass off for you each and every day, because they love your creativity and you let them feed off of theirs.
Without creativity there would be no innovation. We would continue to be cavemen. They say some of the most creative people work for Apple and that they regularly set time aside from each day to brainstorm and let their minds take them somewhere that they didn’t think existed.
You are blessed with creativity. It can be in any industry, so go out there and don’t be afraid to show it to the world. The saddest thing in the world is a wasted talent. Don’t be just that. Live up to your potential.
The Importance of Creativity
When we consider the importance of creativity we are apt to think of it only in the context of art. Though important, art is only a small part of creativity. We use creativity in every aspect of our lives, every day.
Our ability to express our deepest feelings is at the core of the importance of creativity. As humans we have a very strong need to express ourselves and we’re happiest when other people understand what we are trying to get across to them. We find all kinds of ways to do this.
Speech is probably the first and foremost means we use to communicate what we want others to know. Most often it is simple and very straight forward. “Pass the salt,” no way to interpret that incorrectly.
Yet when we want to get something specific across we know we have to put a little more into it. Even the most smooth-spoken person takes the time to consider his words and actions when there is something specific he wants people to know. He knows words can be golden and the exact right ones will change the prospective of the people he is trying to reach. That’s when he taps into his creativity to find a way to say what he wants, in a way that will get everyone’s attention.
It’s the same for all of us when we want to reveal something from deep inside ourselves.
This is when the importance of creativity becomes most evident. We think of endless ways to say something when we want to say it ‘more’.
The simple yet absolutely profound ‘I love you’ is the topic of more books than we can keep track of. The rose has been the symbol of this declaration since forever. How many times have you thought, “Everyone gives roses, I want to say it ‘more’ than everyone else does,”?
You use your creativity and find a way to express exactly the depth of your feelings. You search for something unique and meaningful that ties you and the other person together in a way that is singular to the two of you.
Perhaps when you first met one of you was holding a violet, which the other one happened to bump. It was a disaster which you turned into a special moment, which turned into many special moments.
Looking back at that time later, you don’t want to say “I love you,” you want to say “I love you more than anybody else, remember how special that first meeting was?” Instead of traditional roses, you may choose violets set in a crystal vase in the shape of a train, because it was how you met and you feel deeply about that time. It’s important to you to express yourself in a special way, otherwise you would simply say it.
The importance of creativity can easily be seen in the different ways people choose to express themselves.
People have used their creativity to come up with endless ways to get their messages across, and we’re still thinking of new ones. We certainly don’t let words limit us.
It’s important to be able to tap into your creativity in order to let people know what is important to you in a way that satisfies you. It is important to be able to express your feelings when words aren’t close to enough.
We express ourselves in the form of paintings, music, sculptures, even graffiti. I could fill a page with the different mediums people use and still miss some. They are all meant to get something across to others and they satisfy us because we feel we’ve gotten our message out to others.
Art would seem to be the most obvious way to express ourselves in certain situations…but we don’t limit ourselves to the world of art.
Our creativity is evident in the clothes we wear, the style of our hair, the cars we drive. Whole industries have been built in order to give people the outlet of expressing themselves in their everyday lives. It is that important.
We gather things that mean something to us, things that ‘say’ something about us. And almost everything we acquire, we add a touch of ourselves to it. Even if it is only the way we display our treasures, in some form we mark them as specifically ours.
And we use our creativity to do all those things in just the way that satisfies us.
Creativity is an outlet.
You don’t always want people to know up front what is at the deepest core of yourself, but there is still the need to get it out. How is that best done? Again the importance of creativity is at the forefront. You find ways to express what you want to get out through your creativity.
In this context it isn’t necessarily important to get your message out crystal clear. Sometimes it is enough that you know what you mean, and in that context often it is vitally important that only you know what you are truly expressing. That is the beauty of creativity, it can take any form you need it to take.
Your expression can be loud and out in the open, or it can be subtle, an innuendo that is evident only to yourself. Creativity can be relaxing or invigorating. It can be an outlet for feelings whether they are happy or sad, angry or content and anything in between. Creativity can be used as a business, or a hobby, just for fun, or as a form of therapy, simply work or play.
Creativity can just be a natural part of your life that you don’t bother sticking a label on. You may not even be consciously aware that you are bringing it into practice.
Creativity should be encouraged and nurtured from the moment we take our first breath.
Even as babes we begin to take in the world around us and strive to communicate with it, to draw things from it that we need or want. We should continue to explore it with enthusiasm till we take our last breath. It has so much to offer that to ignore our creativity, in whatever form we use it, is to lose out to a deeper extent than we can imagine. Our lives are enriched by creativity and how we use it.
There are so many aspects of our lives that creativity touches that the importance of creativity defies logic. We are human, we need to express ourselves as much as we need the air we breathe.
Creativity isn’t just art. It is our very essence.
How to Unleash Your Creativity and Find Inspiration Today!
How to deal with creative or mental blocks and be inspired.
by Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. in Communication Success
Inspiration can be defined as a new and better way of answering a question, or solving a problem. In life, we often get bogged down by busyness and set patterns. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with insightful solutions to a difficult quandary. When you find yourself in need of inspiration and creativity, consider the following seven tips. Depending on your particular situation, utilize any one or combination of these ideas as you see fit:
1. Change Your “I Don’t Know” or “I Can’t” Thinking to “What If…?”
Albert Einstein -”To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.”
Sometimes our own fixed patterns can be a major barrier to inspiration and creativity. Given the problem at hand, if you think close-ended statements such as “I can’t…,” “I don’t know…,” or “I’m stumped…,” you’re more likely going to create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy and remain stuck.
Instead, come up with open-ended statements and questions such as:
“I have what it takes to figure this out.”
“I’m open to the possibility that solutions will come up.”
“I will find the inspiration I need to solve this.”
“There’s always a way…”
“What better solutions are possible here…?”
These open-ended statements and questions are your creative mantras. When you repeat them to yourself, don’t try to consciously come up with answers. Instead, empty your mind, engage in one or more activities described in tips #2-7 below, and enjoy the process. Allow inspirations and solutions to emerge naturally and spontaneously.
2. Take a Break from the Mundane
The second tip to finding your inspiration is to think and act outside the box. Give yourself a day (or at least a couple of hours) when almost everything you do is a departure from your normal routine: Take a different route to work, listen to unfamiliar music, try unusual foods, visit an interesting store, problem solve in a new environment, brainstorm with your non-dominant hand (1), or watch a TED talk video on an innovative idea. Break from the mundane and experience your world in brand new ways. As your perspective widens to fresh stimulus, so will your creativity.
3. Listen to Complex Music
The links between music, intelligence and creativity are well established. Listening to Mozart’s sonata, for example, temporarily increases spatial intelligence (2). Find stimulating and enjoyable complex music to listen to, and let it refresh your mind.
4. Get Out of Your Head with Exercise and Movement
Studies have shown that exercise stimulates the brain by creating new neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain. Physical activity helps us get out of our heads and stimulate new thought patterns. In communication there’s a saying: “motion dictates emotion.” Motion can dictate inspiration too. Engage in robust physical activity such as brisk walking, running, aerobics, yoga, bicycling, or swimming, and fresh ideas may spring forth like new seeds!
5. Immerse Yourself in Nature and Colors
Wynn Bullock – “Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say.”
Albert Einstein – “Look! Look! Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.”
Nature and colors are well known for their rejuvenating powers. For example:
A. If you feel confused and are in search of clarity, go to a space where there are colors of green and blue, which have a calming effect.
B. If you’re looking for creative ideas, place yourself in the midst of vibrant colors (like a flower garden), which can stimulate the senses.
C. If you’re not able to visit nature right away, close your eyes and visualize it with all of your senses: See in your minds’ eye all the colors of a season; hear the sounds of birds and creeks; smell the fresh air. Take deep breaths as you let yourself mentally explore this wonderful environment. Better yet, visualize while listening to Mozart or other enjoyable complex music. It’s a nice mental vacation – perhaps just what your mind needs to rejuvenate!
6. Consult Your Board of Advisors
If I ask you to write down the names of six inspirational and creative people whom you admire, which may include personal acquaintances, contemporary newsmakers, historical figures, and even fictional characters (Yoda is my favorite), which individuals would you come up with? This list is your personal board of advisors.
With open-ended questions, use mental imagery and ask each member of your board how she or he would solve your problem. You may be surprised at the quality and creativity of the answers that emerge. Of course, these brainstorms are really coming from YOU – but from a fresh perspective, and often from your more inspired, Higher Self.
Yoda – “You must unlearn what you have learned.”
7. Read or Watch Biographies of Inspiring, Creative People
Can inspiration be contagious? Absolutely! In your search for creative solutions, read or watch biographies of those whose creativity, innovation, and/or entrepreneurship you admire, and let their examples influence you:
Steve Jobs – “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
T.S. Eliot – “We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
May you find your inspiration today!
The Spirituality of Creativity: How Art and Enlightenment go Hand in Hand
Are you a spiritual person? If so— I bet you’re a creative person, too. You might not even think of yourself as creative, but believe it or not, you are.
How do I know? Because spirituality and creativity go hand in hand. What’s more, each one can enhance the other in your life.
Where Creativity Comes From
Our brain definitely has a creative side—the right side, in fact, while the left side is ruled by reason and logic. It requires that creative side of your brain to process myth, scripture and liturgy.
It’s that right brain in which you achieve a state of spiritual consciousness and enlightenment. To listen to your higher self, or commune with that which you perceive as greater than yourself – perhaps a Higher Power, perhaps nature of the Universe itself — requires a well-developed left brain.
The root of creativity is not actually in the brain, though, but in the soul. It is here from which you derive inspiration.
The root of creativity is not actually in the brain, though, but in the soul. It is here from which you derive inspiration. The muse works through the soul. It is also the soul that creativity often exposes. It is an expression of the true self— of what lies deep inside.
Creativity is an expression of things about you that even your brain might not be aware of, but is there. The pure essence of who you are is continually exposed by your creative side, even if only subtly.
Don’t Limit Your Thinking
Too many people confuse ‘creativity’ with ‘art’. Obviously, someone who has talent in painting pictures or writing songs is a creative person. But creativity is not only limited to those who are gifted in the arts.
A scientist or an engineer can be creative—otherwise how would we have such innovative thinkers? How does someone get the inkling to try to convert mold into life-saving antibiotics? How do we end up with a small box made of metal and plastic on the desk that has the power to connect us instantly with people and information around the world?
You may not be specifically an artist— but if you are a spiritual person, you are able to not only think outside of the box, but dig down deep into yourself to connect with a higher wisdom that guides you.
Ways to Nurture your Spirituality through Creativity
Read inspirational poetry; it doesn’t matter the religion of the author, your own beliefs will speak to you through the person’s religious passion.
On a regular basis—perhaps once per week, perhaps every day, spend some time free writing. Just let the thoughts flow, don’t give much concern to grammar and punctuation at this point. Let yourself get in a slipstream of conscious and just let it flow. The ideal time to practice this is every morning, as soon as you wake up, while your consciousness is still relaxed and close to a dream state.
Make time to create—it doesn’t matter if it’s wood working, drawing, choreographing a dance, photography, scrapbooking, gardening or building a chair. Foster a mind-body connection by working with your hands, and foster their connection to spirit by using them jointly in a creative endeavor.
Ways to Nurture Your Creativity through Spirituality
Make your creative endeavors a religious rite of sorts; make them your own prayer, your own offering, in honor of whatever it is you hold sacred.
Share your creation with the world, either by donating it to charity, giving it to others or putting it on display for all to see.
Put your own unique perspective in everything you do.
Whether you’re knitting a quilt or decorating a house, singing a song or creating virtual worlds on the computer, dig deep inside of you and make it an expression of what’s important to you, or your own unique view on the world (or how you think it should be).
Why is creativity important in everyday life?
by Elizabeth Roe
Why is creativity important in everyday life? It is because it makes life infinitely interesting and fulfilling. Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extra-ordinariness of the simplest, most every day acts.
We often think about creativity as making something, but in fact the root meaning of the word means ‘to grow’. When we are creative we feel as if the world and all that is in it is vibrantly alive. Creativity’s by-products are some of the major achievements of civilization–from the invention of the wheel to Mozart’s sonatas.
Perspective – drawing and painting
Human beings are essentially born creative–from infancy on we find innovative ways to negotiate life. The most creative people find ways around obstacles because they see them not just as roadblocks but also as opportunities. Creativity expands our perceptions and along with expanded perceptions come new ways of problem solving–from making an exquisite meal when you don’t know how to cook to painting an extraordinary landscape when you are living in a freezing attic and can’t afford a full box of paints.
20 Ideas from Creativity Connoisseurs To Inspire Your Imagination
By MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.
20 Ideas from Creativity Connoisseurs to Inspire Your Imagination Creativity is not a gift bestowed to a select few before birth. Everyone is creative. It’s just that for some of us that creative spark may be buried under piles of bills, boring tasks, routines and responsibilities.
Creativity needs to be nursed, cultivated and practiced. And there are many simple—and fun—ways to let your creativity loose, whether you’re interested in nurturing your hobbies or your business. You can apply creativity to any endeavor or craft.
Here, the people who live and breathe creativity share their best strategies for cultivating inspiration.
1. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes good ideas just pop into our heads. But more often, it takes effort. “You can’t sit and wait for a brilliant idea to come along, you’ve got to get your hands dirty,” said Veronica Lawlor, an instructor at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design and author of One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration & Mixed Media. “Build up that discipline of action no matter what, and you open the window for creativity to fly through,” she said.
2. Practice “creative grazing.” That’s what designer Jess Constable does on a daily basis. She makes sure to “pay attention to a lot of different ideas and perspectives.” Constable, who’s the designer and founder of Jess LC and author of the blog Makeunder My Life, keeps an eye out for “cool color stories” when she’s shopping or interesting images when she’s online. Then every few months, the “creative grazing” “turns into some intense design days.”
3. Respond to a need. “For areas of my business that aren’t visual, creativity is all about doing what I think best serves a need for my readers or customers,” Constable said.
Her consulting business was born out of increasing questions from readers about building and boosting their businesses. “So in order to accommodate these requests along with all of the other hats that I wear, I thought offering the consulting packages would be a great way to meet this need,” she said.
Also, when you’re brainstorming about needs, Constable suggested stepping “away from the usual sources” and considering “how you can fill [the need] in a way that feels fun and unique to your perspective.”
4. Make time for creating. According to Jessika Hepburn, editor of Oh! My Handmade and author of the workbook Cultivate Your Creativity: “It seems like such a simple answer but carving time out for creative adventures can easily be shuffled down the list of priorities.”
Fitting creativity into your life, whether it’s 15 minutes or several hours, has far-reaching effects. “I have realized that if I fail to make the time to play with my tools and materials, from crocheting to playing with pixels, that I am less productive or creative in the other areas of my life,” Hepburn said.
“Mak[ing] time for making” also can be restorative. “When I feel frustrated or overwhelmed by to-do’s, I make space for being creative. Whether I come out of it with a painting or a pot holder I am refreshed and ready to focus on other things with renewed clarity.”
Hepburn makes time for creativity on evenings and weekends, which includes everything from dyeing wool to painting to sketching to “tromping about with my two girls collecting leaves, rocks, and beach glass for after-school crafts.”
5. Set deadlines. While the idea of waiting around for inspiration to strike is nice, you rarely can postpone a project ‘til your muse finally wakes up. That’s why Laura Simms, a writer, speaker and career coach for creatives, suggested establishing deadlines. “You create because you have to, not because you feel inspired,” she said. “Nothing gets the juices flowing like a deadline.”
6. Learn from others. “Study the people who do what you want to do very well,” Constable said. And it doesn’t have to be people in your field. “I find that though graphic design and fashion are not directly connected to what I do day to day with the core of my career, I have become better at both as I’ve become inspired and aware of what others are doing well,” she said.
7. Set limits. While creativity needs room to breathe, setting limits also is valuable. “Narrowing what’s available to you forces you to try new things” and think creatively, Simms said. “Perhaps you photograph only textures, write only 200 words, or cook only local, seasonal foods.”
8. Change mediums. Think of changing mediums as “creative cross-training,” Simms said. If you usually write prose, try poetry. If you paint, try pastels or pencil. If you do crossword puzzles, try Sudoku, she said.
“If you’re paying attention, you can almost always learn something that you can bring back to your usual medium,” she added.
For instance, for Gail McMeekin, author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, watercolor painting “frees up creative energy and illuminates issues in my writing work too.” “Chang[ing] modalities [also helps her clients] to shake things loose,” said McMeekin, also president of Creative Success.
9. Seek out inspiration. “Your imagination is powerful, but it needs fresh fodder,” Simms said. So she suggested engaging in activities that inspire you, such as “[visiting] a museum, [attending] a live concert, read[ing] your favorite author, tak[ing] in a sunset.”
10. Take a break. Downtime is just as important as having a schedule and being productive, Simms said. Many great thinkers have understood the benefits of a break. For instance, “Charles Darwin is said to have taken several walks a day for ‘thinking time,’” she added.
11. Welcome mistakes. “Don’t worry about making it perfectly, doing it ‘right,’ or set unreasonable standards for yourself,” Hepburn said. McMeekin agreed: “Creativity is full of surprises, so you need to give yourself permission to try things, fail, make mistakes, and then begin again with new insights.”
12. Set up a creativity-boosting routine. McMeekin has a morning routine that helps her get centered and start creating. She begins by sitting quietly and studying her goals, which she’s recorded using a Treasure Map (a collage of images that you’d like to create in your life) and a mandala. Then she listens to music and spends 20 minutes journaling.
13. Carry a notebook with you—always. When on the go, Hepburn grabs a journal or sketchbook. “I jot down ideas while out or if I don’t have the time to pursue them, make quick sketches, staple fabrics/yarns or paste images, colors and textures that interest me.” When Hepburn is ready to create, she has “a treasure trove of thoughts and inspiration to draw on.”
14. Subtract “serenity stealers” from your life. McMeekin refers to “serenity stealers” as anything that sabotages your creative process, whether that’s “people, places, things [or] unsupportive beliefs.” Getting rid of these saboteurs leaves you “free to create.”
Similarly, only share your project with people who will be completely nonjudgmental and supportive, she added.
15. Shrink stress. “Stress is a creativity killer so you must avoid it and/or minimize it,” McMeekin said. Fortunately, there are many uncomplicated ways to cope with stress. (See here and here for tips.)
16. Create your own tools. You can develop your own tools to nourish creativity. McMeekin created a deck of cards she calls the “Creativity Courage Cards,” which feature affirmations and her husband’s photos. She draws a card from the deck daily for inspiration. As she said, it takes courage to be creative, and these cards help remind her to be “fearless and proactive.”
17. Make creativity a family affair. Hepburn and her daughters spend a lot of time creating together, which is no doubt inspiring for all of them. According to Hepburn, who worked almost a decade with kids and teens, “I never fail to be inspired by their innate creativity and lack of inhibition.”
She also sees firsthand the benefits of creativity (which we may overlook sometimes). For instance, Hepburn’s 6-year-old daughter came home from school crying because she said her heart had been broken. That day, she talked about her strong heart and drew a picture, which now hangs in her room. “Access to creative expression allows us to become more resilient and deal with life trauma or stress at any age,” Hepburn said.
18. Be inquisitive. Simms suggested that readers “question, wonder [and] explore.” Doing so, she explained, “wakes your brain up to new possibilities.” And you can start anywhere. You might wonder: How does “a Stairmaster work? What does that leaf smell like? What would happen if I added cumin instead of coriander?”
19. Be open. Creativity is being flexible and open to all kinds of ideas. Lawlor tries to let go of any preconceived notions and “allow myself to live in the realm of not being sure if a thing will work or not.” She admits that this isn’t so simple in our society where quick fixes are standard. “But sometimes, I think, you have to let things simmer and be open to the unexpected.”
20. Find activities that get you “in the flow.”We’ve all experienced a time when we were fully focused on an activity and even lost track of time. That’s what being in a state of flow feels like. Simms described it as “another sort of consciousness [that] takes over and you ride on instinct;” where “time is distorted.” She recommended readers “explore what activities let you work in the flow state and enjoy the effortlessness of working from there.” This can be anything from running to reading to drawing to dancing.
Spiritual Creativity – The Art of White Magic –
By – William Meader
What is spiritual creativity? Naturally, there are many answers to this question. The answer that I would like to suggest is that it represents any creative expression that supports the evolution of spirit. Within the Esoteric Philosophy, the urge to create is a fundamental feature inherent in all aspects of creation. Whether discussing the creative potential existing within a human being, or the creative drive found within the ensouling life of an entire solar system, the esoteric tradition maintains that all grades of life are characteristically creative. From the perspective of a human being, this creative urge must be understood as a natural by-product of living a spiritual life. Spiritual creativity will always emerge when one aspires to live according to divine intention.
In the esoteric tradition, divine creativity is synonymous with the art of white magic. To understand this, it must be stated that we are here referring to the magic of the soul, and not those creative endeavors that are commonly directed by one’s personality. When using the term “white magician”, we are, therefore, referencing the spiritually directed individual who is seeking to consciously co-create according to divine law. The principles of white magic represent the ancient processes used to create outer-forms according to the will and intention of the soul itself. It requires that one reach upward to sense the soul’s creative intention, then find the means to outwardly apply what is sensed. In truth, white magic is the art of translating that which is vertically perceived into that which is horizontally expressed.
In the ancient esoteric texts we are informed that the soul is in a constant state of meditation throughout the entire duration of incarnate existence. This is an idea often not considered by many spiritually inclined people. Yet, such information is crucial if one is to truly understand the creative process as it is initiated by the soul. The soul meditates, and this as a necessary step in preparation for the magical act. It must be understood that the meditation here discussed is not the meditation that we as individuals often do as a regular spiritual discipline. That too is an important feature of the creative process. However, in this context we are referring to the soul as it meditates on its own plane. Interestingly, in the esoteric literature we are given a series of fifteen ancient rules for effectively performing white magic. These rules are presented in A Treatise on White Magic, by Alice Bailey . Actually, as one studies these rules it becomes apparent that they are not “rules” in the conventional sense. Perhaps it is more fitting to say that they are aphorisms having revelatory value, in that they contain the key to how to successfully participate in the co-creative process. Regrettably, it is not possible to present each of the rules of white magic in the context of this brief article. Even so, reference to a few of them may well serve the purpose of giving the reader an appreciation of the depths of wisdom that these rules convey. The idea that the soul meditates can be seen in Rule #1. It reads:
“The Solar Angel collects himself, scatters not his force, but in meditation deep, communicates with his reflection.”
In the esoteric tradition, the soul is frequently referred to as the Solar Angel. Here it can be seen that the soul is in “meditation deep”. By so doing it concentrates its forces in order to generate the power necessary for it to “communicate with his reflection”. As you might guess, the reflection here noted is the personality (lower-self) of the individual. This is the first step in the divine creative process. The soul must assert an impression into the waiting mind of the individual. This is by no means an easy task for the soul, for it must assert its impression into a mind that is often clouded with unwholesome thought-forms. Such soul-inspired impressions are extremely subtle, and are most often lost in the miasma of the many negative thoughts that we all carry around within us. This then gives us a greater understanding as to why the soul must concentrate its forces while “in meditation deep”. Simply stated, the soul needs to generate enough energy to project its divine wishes successfully into the darkened pool of non-spiritualized thought.
In the second stage of the creative process the magician begins to build thoughts around the idea that the soul has projected into his/her waiting mind. There are many people who have notable experience with this phase of the process. We have an impression that has come to us, perhaps in a state of contemplative meditation. From that impression we begin to dwell on it and build ideas around it. It is the process of making the divine idea mentally concrete, and therefore more usable. This is an essential feature in the magical process. The challenge is to build these subsidiary thoughts in such a way so that they do not unduly distort the original idea sent forth by the soul. Admittedly, distortion will occur, for it is an inevitability within the creative process. There is always something lost as one attempts to give structure and form to that which is essentially intuitive and without form. Even so, the building of a form around a divine idea is essential if one is to concretely manifest any soul-inspired idea. It really doesn’t matter whether we are trying to express a divine idea in words, in movement or on canvas. Whenever form is used to express something formless, there will always occur a diminishment of the originally sensed idea. The challenge facing the magician is to minimize the degree of diminishment and distortion that occurs when attempting to magically create. Fundamentally, the ancient rules of white magic center around this very issue. How do we divinely create with as little distortion as possible? This is by no means an easy task, but can be done when one is internally watchful, and knows where within the creative process distortion is most likely to take hold.
After the mind has built a variety of concrete thoughts around the soul-inspired idea, the next step in the process is to allow the created thought-form to descend into the magician’s emotional field (astral body). In the magical process, emotion plays a crucial role, for it is through the use of emotion that the descending thought-form gains the necessary power to ultimately become a tangible reality in the world. It could be rightly said that emotions, when properly utilized, add the necessary vitality and vigor to the spiritually inspired thought-forms that we hold within us. One need only reflect on personal experience to see the truth in this notion. Do we not find that the ideas we hold with greatest conviction are far more powerful within us than the ideas that we entertain, but with little or no passion? Are we not more able to manifest an idea when we “feel” strongly about that idea? Essentially, the waters of the emotional plane must bathe the soul-inspired thought. The thought must be imbued with a sense of heart and feeling.
Yet, just as there are difficulties related to building a mental sheath around the soul’s idea, so too, there are perils associated with this step in the process as well. As noted, it is essential to add an emotional flavor to the idea conceived, yet the amount of emotion to be given is a crucial consideration. This is most noted in Rule 10. It reads, in part:
“As the waters bathe the form created, they are absorbed and used. The form swells and increases in strength; let the magician thus continue until the work suffice.”
As already mentioned, the amount of vital emotion to be imbued into the idea is important. The appropriate measure determines when the “work suffices”. When the spiritual idea to be manifested is not given the proper amount of emotion (water), it will surely “die of thirst”. This is easily witnessed in our personal experience. Frequently we have a good idea but it never comes into being because we fail to become excited by it. Conversely, if the thought-form is given too much emotional charge, then it “drowns” in a torrential flood of watery emotion. This experience most of us know all too well. Frequently we become over-enthusiastic about an inspired idea, then rush forward into a frenzy of activity. The result of this is that we prematurely burnout, and thus fail to manifest the idea we so dearly cherished. Unbridled enthusiasm can also add much distortion to our idea because it can result in a loss of perspective. As would-be magicians, we must learn to wisely use our emotions in the creative manifestation process. Lack of emotion must give way to emotional conviction toward the idea we seek to externalize. And, equally true, the over-enthusiastic reaction to an idea must be calmed by developing a sense of emotional temperance within oneself.
The final phase of the magical process relates to the actual externalization of the soul-inspired idea into the outer-world. White magic is fundamentally the art of translating a spiritual truth into an outer reality. Yet, how this is done on the physical plane can be quite perilous as well. The challenge here relates to a variety of things, not the least of which has to do with the dangers of over-stimulating one’s physical body. A divine idea working its way through one’s mental, emotional and physical vehicles can be amazingly powerful, and when it reaches the point of tangible expression it has a potent effect upon one’s physical instrument. Many physical health problems are caused by over-stimulation of this kind. In addition, the “fires” of the etheric body (the chakra centers) now come into contact with the descending idea. And, as already noted, the thought-form created has been moistened by emotional conviction. Not surprising, when water mixes with etheric fire steam emerges, thus clouding one’s sight from how to properly externalize the idea. In short, the magician has difficulty knowing how to outwardly implement his/her created thought-form. Rule #14 enigmatically addresses this issue. It thus reads:
“The sound swells out. The hour of danger to the soul courageous draweth near. The waters have not hurt the white creator and naught could drown nor drench him. Danger from fire and flame menace now, and dimly yet the rising smoke is seen. Let him again, after the cycle of peace, call on the Solar Angel.”
When this rule is deeply studied it becomes apparent that it is filled with esoteric truth. The magician is now faced with the “dangers from fire”. Interestingly, this rule also reveals the remedy to the fiery perils found at this final stage in the magical process. The magician must learn to once again invoke the soul into the field of his/her consciousness. S/he must “call on the Solar Angel” to give internal guidance to this difficult and final step. Through the use of the third-eye, the soul is able to gaze into the outer-world and discern precisely when and how to present the divine idea into the outer-environment. To the magician, this soul-directed realization comes to him/her in the form of a sudden knowingness as to the “proper” application of the divine idea. The method most appropriate to this process is meditation. Here I am referring to contemplative meditation as used by the magician. In meditation one must learn to contemplate upon the outward application of the thought-form construct. The results of such meditative work can be quite fruitful, for it provides the magician with the sense of timing needed to insure that the thought-form created will be given a healthy birth into the outer world. Through this form of meditation, the magician will develop a deeper understanding of the various cycles present in the outer-world. S/he will then be able to intuit the magical moment (within such a cycle) when the thought-form must be birthed forth. These cycles are many, and a full discussion of them is not possible in the context of this writing. Suffice to say that, just as every human being experiences an ebb and flow within their spiritual and secular life, so too does the outer environment experience the same. The white magician seeks to uplift an environment through the power inherent in the soul-inspired idea s/he is attempting to manifest. The success of this effort is largely based on his/her ability to intuitively sense the readiness of the outer-environment for what s/he seeks to magically express. If these cycles are not wisely recognized and considered, the magician will express the divine-idea into an environment that is momentarily repulsive to what is being offered. Tragically, the thought-form is then stillborn. When such occurs, the magical effort comes to naught. Fortunately, through the use of contemplative meditation, these rhythms are correctly sensed, thus making it possible for the magician to know precisely when (and how) to express the soul-inspired thought-form s/he has conceived. Divine timing is essential. Verily, it is when such occurs that magic is truly bestowed, and this as a service to the large whole.
White magic is truly a term synonymous with spiritual-creativity. Even so, it is an art that does not come with ease. It requires much introspective work, and an understanding of the means by which the soul seeks to express itself though its reflection, the personality. In truth, we who are attempting to walk the spiritual path are not white or black magicians. Rather, we are best described as gray creators, in that we are motivated by both soul and personality objectives. Yet, walking the spiritual path presupposes that there is a desire within each of us to tip the scales in the direction of the soul. And, by so doing, we eventually learn to be more creatively responsive to the inner master, the soul, and less reactive to the independent proclivities of the personality. With profound patience, the soul simply waits for its reflection to learn how the divine creative process really works, and rejoices when such personality understanding emerges. Verily, it is on that day that the magician can then truly co-create according to divine intention, and this, for the purpose of environmental upliftment. Such is ever the magical calling of the soul.
Julia Cameron on the Path of Creativity
Interview led by Samuel Bercholz
The author of The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold in conversation with Samuel Bercholz, founder and president of Shambhala Publications.
Samuel Bercholz: Your work is nominally about creativity, but it seems to be as much about tools for spiritual growth. What is the connection?
Julia Cameron: People often say to me, “Your book is a Buddhist book,” or “This is a book about mysticism, really, or this is a Sufi book.” That is probably because creativity is a spiritual path, and at the core of the various spiritual paths are the same lessons. For instance, I recently read Thich Nhat Hanh for the first time, and I found myself thinking that he sees the world with an artist’s eye. I think that’s because he is very heart-centered. Even though we think of creativity as an intellectual pursuit, in my experience creativity is a heart-centered pursuit. We actually create from the heart. I think it’s interesting that the word “heart” has the word “art” embedded in it. It also has the word “ear” embedded in it.
So both Buddhism and creativity involve the art of listening to the heart. That’s where the creative impulse arises from. That’s why I cannot distinguish between creativity and spirituality. When you’re practicing creativity you become a grounded individual, and that communicates the universal.
I’ve been a writer for more than thirty years, and the issues that arise in the creative practice are the same kinds of issues that arise in a spiritual practice. You get to look at your insecurity. You get to look at your inquisitiveness. You get to look at your fantasy that a satisfied desire will lead to satisfaction. As near as I can tell, this is what happens with a grounded meditation technique: you go through all of the shenanigans of the restless nature of the mind and what you are left with is, just be. Out of being, things are made. So creativity is the act of being.
Samuel Bercholz: Your creativity exercises could also be viewed as a form of therapy.
Julia Cameron: Again, I don’t make those definitions. My books are taught by myriad therapists. What they have found is that if they can heal their clients’ creativity, neurosis disappears. This is why they all love this approach, and why therapists facilitate artists’ circles all the time.
My feeling is that an enormous amount of what we think of as neurosis is actually blocked creativity. When people begin living in their creativity, the “neurosis” disappears. I am not certain that we are a neurotic culture; I think we are more a stifled culture, needing to express the self, and you can spell that either small “s” or large “S.”
My feeling is that we are exhausted with talk therapy. Because The Artist’s Way is experiential, it brings people back into their bodies and their hearts. Therapists are using it to bring people into an embodied practice, and that’s why everyone’s calming down.
It’s one of the world’s best kept secrets that art makes people sane and happy. If you think creativity makes you crazy and broke, let’s not do it. On the other hand, if it makes you expanded and connected and joyous and vibrant and beautiful, it may make us a little nervous, but maybe we should try it.
The only time I get in trouble is if I’m not making something myself. If I’m too busy teaching to do my own art I get very sad. It’s a matter of balance for me. I must keep my artist first and my teacher second. I must be making things and then sharing out of that process. If I am only teaching what I have already learned without doing my practice in order to be learning more, I’m very desperately unhappy. It’s dangerous for me.
When we are creative we become happier, more stable, more user-friendly. We have this image of writers as grumpy curmudgeons. Well, when they’re blocked they are, but a writer who’s writing is usually a very festive, even if it’s secretly festive, person. A lot of what I teach is playing. I think that as we become more light, we take our ideas more seriously.
Samuel Bercholz: Do you mean “light” like “more brilliant” or like “light-hearted?”
Julia Cameron: Light-hearted. As we become more light-hearted, we paradoxically take our ideas more seriously. If we’re trying to take our ideas seriously without a light heart we do not have the passion to execute them. This is why I say creativity is a matter of the heart: it takes heart to execute. If you can get people back in their heart, you get them into executing their creativity. If you keep them in their head, the heart becomes hobbled and the capacity to make things that connect becomes hobbled.
Samuel Bercholz: A big part of The Artist’s Way and Vein of Gold is how passion and creativity relate.
Julia Cameron: I think passion is a marvelous thing. I was recently bawled out by a shaman because he took my use of the word passion to mean emotion and turbulence. I use passion to mean an act of will and commitment. I believe that we are intended to be utterly present, present with a passionate commitment. Then when we are, we create. Conversely, when we create, we become present with passionate commitment.
One of the aspects of certain forms of Buddhism that I have difficulty with is that occasionally I get the feeling that people are using their meditation to avoid experiencing the incarnation we all share. They become detached, they hold the larger view, and it becomes: leaf falls from tree, child dies, same value. I think we can hold that view some of the time, but we are intended as humans to resonate far more deeply than that. I believe that creativity as a spiritual path is very much a felt path.
Samuel Bercholz: “Felt” in the sense of passion, or heartfelt?
Julia Cameron: I don’t see those as two different things. Do you?
Samuel Bercholz: No, but…sometimes feeling is just a swirl. Is there a difference between the swirl of emotion and heartfelt feeling?
Julia Cameron: When we’re in a swirl of emotion, in a funny way it’s intellectual. Confusing and conflicting ideas are wrapped up with the emotions, much the way smoke has particles in it. When we are in our heart, there is a clarity to the feeling, a purity to the feeling. It’s less like smoke and more like water. Creativity allows you to purify swirling emotions.
Samuel Bercholz: By grounding them? By liberating them? What happens?
Julia Cameron: You see, for me it’s difficult to talk so theoretically. For instance, this morning I was very frustrated. I sat down and wrote four short poems, and then I was fine. The poems both grounded and liberated what I was feeling.
Then I think we should talk just about the practice, because the intellectual part of this doesn’t make any sense. You can read everything about creativity, everything about meditation, everything about spirituality, and what difference does it make?
Okay, let’s look at the nuts and bolts of The Artist’s Way. Get up in the morning and write three pages of long hand writing about anything.
Samuel Bercholz: What inspired you to do that? This is something you created, and people are doing it all over the world.
Julia Cameron: It didn’t begin with an idea. One day I got up and started doing it, and I found that it worked.
Samuel Bercholz: What do you mean by “worked”?
Julia Cameron: It made me prioritized for my day; it rendered me present to my life; it gave me a seed bed of ideas that later became creative work; it rendered me profoundly present. So I did it more. (laughs)
Samuel Bercholz: Then you wrote the prescription for everybody else. How did you know that this wasn’t just for you?
Julia Cameron: People would call me up who were confused, and I’d say, “Try this,” and it would work for them. That’s how it became larger: I simply shared the tool. It’s a tool that arose out of the fact that I am a writer with a habit of writing; therefore, it was the most natural thing in the world for me to get up one morning and start writing, and then to notice what it did for me.
I also do believe in reincarnation. I think that I’m a teacher, and I suspect I’ve been a teacher for a very long time. A lot of what I know comes from my thirty years of work as a writer, but I suspect that a lot of what I know is remembered. I think this is true for all of us, that we are often doing in this life a work that we began a long time ago. That’s what I think The Artist’s Way is; it’s a work that I probably began a long time ago. Or that artists began a long time ago.
Samuel Bercholz: So do you think there’s an ancestry of artists as well as a family ancestry?
Julia Cameron: Absolutely. When people talk about a spiritual practice, they talk about the lineage of the practice. I think I’m squarely within the lineage of creativity, from the caves forward.
Samuel Bercholz: Is this a natural gift, or something you had to develop?
Julia Cameron: I think we have natural gifts and then we develop them. I think my work is helping people to wake up to their gifts and develop them.
Samuel Bercholz: Do you think everybody has natural gifts?
Julia Cameron: Absolutely!
Samuel Bercholz: So what’s with all these frustrated people?
Julia Cameron: I think we’ve forgotten who we are. I think we’ve forgotten we’re gifted. We’ve been made to feel we aren’t gifted: we have an enormous mythology that creativity belongs to an elite few. They’ve known it since birth, they suffer no fear, they always wear black…
So what The Artist’s Way tools do is reconnect people to their own creative impulses, at which point people become far stronger and begin to move in the direction of those impulses. It’s essentially a spiritual process, a listening process: with morning pages you are listening to what’s going on within you. You’re putting it on the page and communicating it to yourself and, in a sense, to the world.
The second basic tool is something called an “artist’s date,” which is a once-a-week festive period of solitude. This is like turning on the radio to receive. So with morning pages you’re listening to yourself and communicating out, and then you go into solitude, a festive engaged form of solitude – you are out in the world, you are interacting, you begin to feel and hear other impulses. You begin to receive.
Samuel Bercholz: In The Vein of Gold you talk about walking as more than just a physical thing. It’s about visual images that come by and all kinds of things.
Julia Cameron: We are ecosystems. Creativity is an ecosystem. If we want to be creative, we fish from the well of the ecosystem. It’s as though you have an inner trout run and when you strive for creativity you’re fishing out of it. Then you need to replenish it, restock it.
When you walk, a couple of things happen. One is that you have an image-flow moving at you. You see and notice things. You see a tiny little bird skittering under a pine branch. You see a homeless person if you’re in the city. You note the image, and the image goes into the well. The well is part of the heart, and that’s where your art comes from.
Walking also moves you across the bridge into a larger realm of ideas. It allows you to listen to a different frequency. I experience it as a sort of click in the back of my head. I begin to have insights and inspirations which seem to be of a simpler and higher order. There is something enormously powerful about visualizing and moving at the same time. It may just be because we have more energy to deal with, but it really helps things to clarify, and once something clarifies it begins to be able to manifest.
I call it crossing into the imagination. When we make things they begin as thought forms, as spiritual blueprints, and when we are walking and we visualize something, we’re actually drawing it into form. As a writer, if I have a tangled plot line, I go for a walk. I’m not thinking particularly about my plot; I’m thinking about the little wren that I saw, I’m thinking about the mallards, if I’m in New York maybe I’m thinking about the antique velvet rope that I saw in the shop window. And as I’m thinking about these things, “Oh! That’s what I can do with my plot” emerges. Creativity is sort of Zen: as you focus north, solutions emerge south. It’s not linear.
Samuel Bercholz: Well, that’s magic. That’s the way spiritual practice is: it works because it works. I mean, you could do whole scientific studies and they don’t help anything. You can make up excuses why it works, but they’re just excuses.
Julia Cameron: You know, if smart were the solution, very few of us would be screwed up. Smart isn’t the solution. The heart is the solution. That’s why I don’t like the term “mindfulness.” I like the term “heartfulness.” I think it’s more accurate.
Samuel Bercholz: Actually, the term is translated from the Sanskrit, and whoever translated it chose the word “mind” rather than “heart.” But mindfulness refers to the Sanskrit citta, which is in fact “heart.” So “heartfulness” is more accurate; it’s not about our head at all.
Julia Cameron: Well, this is good. I always thought, what a dreadful word, they can’t mean it.
So we’re really talking about what arises from the heart.
Samuel Bercholz: You don’t mean the little flesh thing, right? What do you mean by “heart?
Julia Cameron: The essence. The center. The place that is simultaneously individual and universal that each of us carries. That point of truth. I think heart is a pretty good word for that.
Samuel Bercholz: What’s the relationship between time and creativity? You’re struggling with a deadline now, working on a book, and all of us who are involved with the world of creativity know there are always deadlines and the panic that comes with them. Do you think it’s positive that there are time restrictions or would it be better if things were eased up?
Julia Cameron: It’s a central question. We yearn for more time with the illusion that if we had open time we would be creating all the time. The trick is to actually learn to use the time which we have.
What I try to teach is how to be creative within the life you’ve got. We are a workaholic society. We are addicted to work and often to work for work’s sake. But when you are happy, rested and in touch with yourself, you can often work very quickly. That’s because when you have some clarity it’s easy to do something quickly. The trick is really clarity. People say, I don’t have time to do the morning pages, but if they do the morning pages it gives them clarity, and that makes them do all the rest of their life more quickly and more easily.
Now, the whole issue of how to be creative within a business environment is an issue of people being connected and clear, which is contagious. I use the term “creative contagion.” Very often if one person in a workplace starts working with creative emergence tools somebody else will say, “What are you doing? You seem really different.” Then they’ll start doing them and you have this sort of grassroots beneath the hierarchy; out of sight of the superiors you have these people who are becoming more and more grounded while also becoming more visionary, innovative and individual.
These tools render us able to see our choices in any given situation. In the middle of a demanding business day you can close the office door for ten minutes and listen to a piece of music. You can go off and write a half a page just to clear your thinking. The tools are very portable. These little tiny timeouts during a day keep you connected, and just an instant of connection creates space for what I call grace, or what other people might call inspiration or intuition. If we make the smallest opening, there is the possibility of creativity. This is why it is so much like a spiritual practice.
Samuel Bercholz: Do you want to say something about the various kinds of addictions and their relationship to creativity?
Julia Cameron: Our mythology tells us that artists are addicted people – that they are promiscuous, drug addicted, alcoholic. We’ve come to think that somehow those addictions are part of the creative process.
My experience is exactly the opposite. My experience is that creativity is freedom from addiction. We are frightened when we feel the force of our own creative energy, because we don’t know how to ground it. This is why my tools tend to be grounding tools, and when creativity is safely grounded and used, addictions fall to one side. Conversely, if you see someone addicted, what you’re seeing is a profoundly creative soul reaching for a substitute to self-expression.
When people get sober they can be profoundly creative. When people get emotionally sober off of a process addiction like workaholism or sex addiction or relationship addiction, they have freed for their use a beautiful amount of new usable energy with which they can make wonderful things. That doesn’t just mean writing a poem or making a ceramic vase. It can be a new system for the office. It can be revamping the way they do parent/teacher meetings.
But often what happens is that when we experience our creative energy we don’t recognize it as creative energy; we just think it’s anxiety. So rather than saying, “How can I direct this energy and what should I make?” we try to block it. We block it by thinking of some titillating sexual adventure. We block it by picking up a drink. We block it with a pint of Hagen Daas. We block it by picking up workaholic work. But it doesn’t go away; it’s still there. Creativity is always there, because it is as innate to humanity as blood and bone. It is the animating force.
Samuel Bercholz: Although a lot of people talk about creativity and sexuality as not different energies. Do you see them as different?
Julia Cameron: No. I would tend to say that energy itself is pure, and that we can abuse it. You can feel the difference between an
addictive, deadening sexual encounter and a sexual encounter where you stay present and the other person stays present.
Samuel Bercholz: Being in the present is the issue?
Julia Cameron: I think so.
Samuel Bercholz: Is it the same with creativity?
Julia Cameron: Creativity is living in the connected moment.
Samuel Bercholz: What do you mean by connected?
Julia Cameron: Heartful, present, alert, attentive, engaged.
Samuel Bercholz: Thank you.