Myths About Creativity
Myth One - You are lacking something.
Myth Two - There is an expert out there to help you.
Myth Three - It will take you a long time to get it.
Realities About Creativity
Reality One - You are always connected to an ever-present wellspring of creativity, power and wisdom.
Reality Two - The expert in your creativity is standing in your shoes right here and right now.
Reality Three - It doesn't take time - you have it right now.
Several other researchers and I have studied creativity and stale thinking patterns. Our work has focused on what we call the Identity System (I-System). We all have an I-System. It's either on or off. It's on when your mind is cluttered with spinning thoughts, your body is tense, your awareness shrinks and you have trouble reaching your goals. The I-System causes you to falsely identify with the contents of the spinning thoughts and the resulting physical distress. This, in turn, can disrupt your otherwise natural access to your wellspring of creativity. With your mind cluttered with old thoughts, you become trapped in a box!
An approach I call Mind-Body Bridging can teach you to rest and quiet down thoughts, helping you to get out of old patterns. Using both your mind and body, a Bridge is created from a state of confusion (an overactive I-System) to a state of clarity (a resting I-System).
Recognizing Your Box
Try the following exercise to recognize what makes you feel trapped:
1. Choose a specific situation that makes you feel boxed in.
2. Take a piece of paper, write the situation in the middle of the page, and draw an oval around it.
3. Next take 1-2 minutes to jot down around the oval whatever pops into your mind about that situation and your attempts to solve it. Work quickly and don't self-edit.
4. At the bottom of the paper, write down the location and type of body tension that you felt while doing this exercise (e.g. pressure in chest, shoulders pulling up, or tension in gut).
5. Ask yourself the following questions:
a) Is your mind cluttered?
b) Is your body tense?
If yes, you have the tell-tale signs that you are boxed in by your I-System.
Getting Out of Your Box
This next exercise can help you start to escape your box.
Getting Out of Your Box
1. Take another piece of paper, write the same situation in the middle of the page and draw an oval around it.
2. Before you continue writing, "Come to Your Senses". Seat yourself comfortably, listen to the background sounds, experience the pressure on your seat, feel your feet on the floor and feel the pen in your hand. If you have thoughts, gently return to the background sounds and your senses. Take your time. Once you feel settled, start writing whatever comes to mind about the situation. Watch the ink go on the paper, continue to feel the pen in your hand and listen to the background sounds. Write for 1-2 minutes.
3. Ask yourself the following questions.
a) Is your mind cluttered or clear?
b) Is your body tense or relaxed? A relaxed mind and body shows that your I-System is resting.
c) Do you sense a new mind-body harmony?
d) Are you experiencing being out of your box?
Mind-Body Bridging can help you unlock your creativity. Whenever your mind puts you in a box, your body signals to you with palpable tension. When you heed that signal of mind-body disharmony, and use your senses to rest your I-System, your creativity flows. To enhance your creativity throughout the day, sense what you touch, feel your feet hit the ground as you're walking, and hear the sounds around you.
I'd love to hear about your experience with creativity and getting un-stuck.
Block, S.H., and C.B. Block, 2007. Come To Your Senses: Demystifying the Mind-Body Connection 2nd Edition. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing.
Block, S. H., S. H. Ho, and Y.Nakamura. 2009. A brain basis for transforming consciousness with Mind-Body Bridging. Paper presented at Toward a Science of Consciousness 2009 conference, June 12, at Hong Kong Polytechnical University, Hong Kong, China, Abstract 93.
Boly, M., C. Phillips, E. Balreau, C. Schnakers, C. Degueldre, G. Moonen, A. Luxen, P. Peigneux, M.-E. Faymonville, P. Maquet, and S. Laureys. 2008a. Consciousness and cerebral baseline activity Fluctuations. Human Brain Mapping 29 (7):868-74.
Boly, M., C. Phillips, L. Tshibanda, A. Vanhaudenhuyse, M. Schabus, T. T. Dang-Vu, G. Moonen, R. Hustinx, P. Maquet, and S. Laureys. 2008b. Intrinsic brain activity in altered states of consciousness: How conscious is the default mode of brain function? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1129:119-29.
Nakamura, Y., D. L. Lipschitz, R. Landward, R. Kuhn, and G. West. 2011 (forthcoming). Two sessions of sleep focused mind-body bridging improve self-reported symptoms of sleep and PTSD in veterans: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychosomatic Research.