E M P O W E R E D C H A N G E
has its roots in the nonrational." Abraham Maslow
steps or stages of the creative process do not, in actuality, follow
each other in sequence, but rather occur as a continuous flow, like
a river whose water is ever moving, ever changing, refreshing and
renewing, yet retaining its shape and identity as "the river." Still,
for the purpose of explanation, it is often helpful to think of
steps within a process as occurring in a particular order or sequence,
and that is true of the process of creation.
listed in last month's segment, Prepare to Create (Etain, Article
#6), preparation is the first step toward opening to creativity.
It is a time of actiongathering needed materials, ideas, and
information for implementing the project at hand. It can be an energetic,
exciting time of brainstorming and amassing often huge amounts of
information, with shadowy ideas beginning to take on shape and substance.
next two stepsincubation and daydreamingare more inward
focusedless about "doing" and more about "letting things be,"
allowing thoughts and information to stew and brew, while remaining
open and receptive to ideas without intentionally searching for
incubation period is a time for routinegoing about your daily
life and noting any ideas that show up, but without the intensity
and focus of the preparation stage. For example, if you want to
get the creative juices flowing you might do something domesticcook,
bake, clean closets, wash dishes (manually), work in the garden
or cut the grass, etc. I remember asking a particularly creative
friend what he does first when faced with an exceptionally big or
challenging project. He told me, "I clean." It is a fact that whether
you are cleaning out closets, rearranging furniture, or simply straightening
your desk, organizing the physical world around you can be a great
catalyst for organizing the world of thought and inspiration.
might also try making the work or chore into a game that you play
with yourself. Try cutting the grass in specific patterns, or stacking
your dishes by color or category. You may set yourself the task
of creating a new dish that is tasty, different, and uses only ingredients
that are already in your kitchen. Above all, have fun! These may
seem like silly games, but they are an easy and effective means
of accessing your creative (and playful) spirit without any pressure
to create, allowing you to simply experience yourself as the innovative
and imaginative being that you are.
doing these tasksas work or as playit is important to
allow your mind to wander where it willdaydream (the third
stage of the creative process), and listen for your inner voice
to speak. Basically let godon't try to figure anything out,
but stay open and be prepared to stop what you are doing if ideas
begin to flow. (As a rule, I keep my computer turned on and I'm
ready to write anytime I'm doing household chores. This is where
the preparation stage overlaps and merges with the incubation and
daydreaming periods.) Somehow, when we are engaged in simple everyday
activities, we will often allow ourselves the freedom to explorea
freedom we don't always experience when we're trying to be
forget to let your inner child out to play as often as possible.
C.G. Jung tells us, "The creation of something new is not accomplished
by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.
The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." Be a kid again!
Blow soap bubbles (I find this incredibly relaxing and the bubbles
take on different hues depending on the time of day and the brightness
of the sun); build sand castles (on the beach or at the playground);
swing on a swing as high as you can feeling the air move through
your hair, against your skin; dance with abandon, sing silly songs.
Laugh! Engage others in your play. (Play is always more fun with
too, can be very important during this time, so relax! In her book,
Succulent Wild Woman, Sark emphasizes the importance of naps to
the creative process. "Naps," she says, "are productivecontrary
to what we've been taught." Give yourself permission to take naps,
meditate, watch the sunset. The simple act of physical relaxation
frees the mind to be open to new ideas.
be afraid to dream, "day" or otherwise. There are no limitations
in the dream world, so don't try to harness your dreams or "rein
them in." Simply allow your dreams to be. This is where the miracle
of creation occurs. It may be fun to play "what if" games. What
if I were rich? What if I become famous? What if my idea/project/invention
is successful? Given no limitations, what can you see as a possibility
for your life, your work, your project or idea? Let your dreams
wander far and wide. Note any nocturnal dreams you may have and
listen closely to what your unconscious mind is saying to you.
Creativity begets creativity. Give yourself plenty of opportunity
to "prove" to yourself how creative you are. The more you experience
yourself as the creative being that you truly are, the more you
will feel the creative flow within you. It seems that, sometimes,
we have to be "tricky" and "accidentally" catch ourselves being
creative. Then we remember that this is our natural state. There
are many ways you can experience your creative nature. Everyday
chores and activities provide a wonderful opportunity for this.
For years, I have played little games with myself, making up "rules"
and giving myself challenges while involved in such mundane activities
as washing the dishes, cutting the grass, and doing the laundry.
Dusting and polishing can also lend itself well to creative games,
as can cleaning closets and organizing your desk. There is no "right"
way to play these games-just have fun!!
regular play and fun time with yourself. In "The Artist's Way,"
Julia Cameron suggests making weekly "artist dates" with yourselfscheduled
time that you set aside to spend alone with "you" doing something
that you truly enjoy. This can be surprisingly hard to do. While
we may be more than happy to make time in our busy schedules for
our friends and family, and other people and things we care about,
we may also find it very difficult to actually arrange quality time
with ourselvesparticularly "planned-ahead" time. I have found
that I am more likely to try to squeeze me in when it is convenient
rather than making a true commitment to myself. This has been a
real eye-opener and it is an on-going theme that I continue to notice
in my life. When you see that you are cutting yourself short, it's
important to make a firm date to do something fun with yourselfgo
to the beach, the playground, a movie, plan a picnic or have lunch
at your favorite restaurant, enjoy a museum, the symphony, a walk
in the park, anything that you find enjoyable. While it's great
to be spontaneous, it's equally essential to schedule time for ourselves
to play, to be silly, and to just be with "self." I suspect that
most of us don't do this nearly enough.
be sure to get plenty of rest and allow yourself daily quiet time
for meditation, contemplation, prayer, soul-searchingwhatever
you want to call it. Many years ago, I learned a relaxation technique
that I still use today for meditation, to relieve stress, and also
for those very occasional sleepless nights. This technique is very
easy and doesn't require specific music or body postures, detailed
instructions or training with a professional to learn it. Simply
lie on your back on a comfortable surface (such as your bed) and
give yourself permission to let go and relax. (I like to imagine
that I am lying on the cool, delicate sand of a beautiful snow-white
beach, the breaking of the waves sounding a slow, easy rhythm for
my breath to follow.) Now, beginning at your feet, imagine a soft
white or yellow light (like the sun) bathing you in a gentle warmth.
It is not hot, but soothing and relaxing. Hear the waves, feel the
warmth and relax into it. As you feel your feet relaxing, imagine
the warmth moving up your legs, slowly, over your calves and knees,
and moving on to your thighs.
When your legs are totally relaxed (you may even have a sensation
that they have "disappeared" ), continue to move the warm light
up your body, relaxing each area in succession until your entire
body, from head to toe, is bathed in warmth and light. Now, allow
yourself to float here for a while. If you are very tired, or you
are using this technique as a remedy for an insomniac night, you
will probably be asleep by this pointand that's fine. If you
are awake, however, it is great to "free float" in this state for
a while. When you are ready to "come back" to this world, do it
slowlygently moving fingers and toes, arms and legs, until
the sensation of "body" returns. You will come back refreshed and
open to new ideas and opportunities.
Linda Maree 2001