I’ve always been fascinated by how creative artists describe their process. Inevitably, they talk about being in a state of open mind where the download of core creativity can happen. I know painters who sit in front of a blank canvas staring at it and guitarists who will sit looking at the ocean, guitar at their side, waiting for an idea to appear.
Actor and writer Cody Fern says that for him, setting the state to be receptive to new creative ideas looks like “silence and clearing, getting really quiet, saving the reserves of energy.” He doesn’t let himself think too much about how he might approach his work, which would distract him from what his non-rational brain is communicating to him.
James Taylor said in a 2015 Hemispheres magazine interview, “Given enough empty time, the songs show up. I’ve often said that it’s an unconscious and mysterious process, my type of songwriting. You really are just waiting to hear it, and you have to be in a place where you can receive the song, more than generate it. There’s just something about songwriting. It’s like a musical puzzle or a math problem. When you solve it, it’s like you’re being surprised by your own subconscious in a way. That’s an unparalleled delight.”
Robbie Robertson of the Band said in the documentary Once We Were Brothers, “The creative process is a process catching you off guard. You write about what you know, where you have been, who you knew and know… Creativity comes from the womb of emptiness.”
What are you surrendering to when you experience a downflow of core creativity? Many people believe that ideas can come from what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. It’s here that the archetypes of stories, themes, and characters are said to reside, seeping into our conscious and unconscious and influencing our perceptions about ourselves and our lives. You can tap into your personal unconscious, but some would say that you can also access what’s in the collective unconscious, too.
Mindfulness meditation — whether it’s sitting silently and clearing the mind, walking in nature, or shifting into “absorption” whereby you simply sit still and observe — can take you out of overthinking and into the mind state of receptivity. The stillness and focus involved in meditation alters your brainwaves, and therefore, your mind state. Distraction-free time can lead you to an open mind as you remain present in the moment.
Both core creativity and intuitive wisdom and knowledge can be accessed in an open mind state — not because you have an open mind, or are trying to be open minded, but because you’re in a state of pure receptivity that evolves naturally after giving yourself over to emptiness.
Practice this “No-Self” Meditation to let go of your ego and become curious, receptive, and free to access your core creativity:
When you’re ready, end the meditation. You may want to write down any impressions, ideas, or insights that came to you.
Use the No-Self Meditation to partake in a “clear the desk” experience that allows you to enhance your intuitive abilities and access core creativity.
Ronald A. Alexander, PhD, is a psychotherapist and mindfulness trainer, and a creativity, business, and leadership coach. He has a private psychotherapy and executive coaching practice in Santa Monica, California. He’s the executive director of the OpenMind® Training Program that offers personal and professional training programs in mindfulness-based mind-body therapies, transformational leadership, and meditation. He’s the author of the highly acclaimed book, Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss, and Change (2008), and the new book, Core Creativity: The Mindful Way to Unlock Your Creative Self (Rowman & Littlefield, June 21, 2022). Learn more at www.CoreCreativity.com.