By Caryn Chow
Creativity can be fun. If it flows on its own.
Creative input and output are generated in every area of our lives: at home, work, play. We subconsciously tap in when we read or write or watch and observe. To a greater or lesser degree, we are all creative.
Incorporating breathing, meditation and relaxation exercises are useful in that they help to unblock flow but here’s a tool I bet doesn’t readily come to mind: recording! I’m not referring to the recording practiced by NLP devotees but rather the usage of an actual recording device. Here’s why.
You know the feeling when you are anxious or over excited? Overstimulation can go either way — it can heighten or decrease your level of creativity, resulting in supraliminal cognition or brain fog, the latter of which is never fun. We’ve all been there and we know it’s temporary and will subside until flow, which seemingly has a mind of its own, is released.
But what happens when you are positively impacted and you are unable to stop the thoughts tumbling over like a tsunami brainwave? Don’t worry — you are not borderline bipolar, nor are you “careless” or anything else the dictionary prescribes. Your brain is simply multi-tasking, like when you’re at your desk typing / talking on the phone / eating lunch. Or when you’re burping the baby / reading / watching TV. Your mind racing with new ideas is great, but unless you can compartmentalize them you are defeating the purpose because at scatterbrain levels your juices will go as quickly as they came. The goal would then be to contain overflow, which leads to scatterbrain creativity (a.k.a., “chronic creativity”), ultimately resulting in an unproductive outcome.
Like a fantastic dream you don’t want to awake from, you want the floodgates of genius to flow for as long as possible. Here are five easy tips to sustain the flow when it arrives:
1. Physically stop what you’re doing and find a place which offers a peaceful, tranquil and comfortable environment. Most people work best in a quiet space, while others can sit in a coffee spot and still flow generously.
2. Take a deep breath and meditate for about three minutes. Mindfully find that place that allows you to relax and clear your thoughts. Recognize that a gift is about to present itself to you, and allow the creative gods to write your thoughts. Breathing deep sends signals to your brain chakra, clearing the way for it to regain focus.
3. Keep a recorder by your side (I use the one on my iPhone) at all times. Most times the flow comes when you least expect it. Recording is much easier than writing and if your mind is racing a mile a minute you don’t want to run the risk of losing the train of thought while searching for that pen or piece of paper.
4. When nature calls, listen and respond in kind. Don’t just listen; venture out and play. Appreciate all that is God-given because this is the only place “outside” your brain that you’ll get that extra cup of creative juice!
5. The exception to the “recorder” tip is when you’re about to retire for the night. Instead of storing a recorder by your bed — keep a pen and notepad close at hand for those hypnagogic moments when you are at your creative height. Recording is also a bad idea because your mind chatter will manifest into word chatter and unless you have an amazing memory which most of don’t have when they awake from a dream, you’ll replay it in the morning and wonder how Alvin and the Chipmunks managed to seep into your subconscious and utter not a word you understand.
Extra tip: When you’re in chronic creativity mode it can last for hours; sometimes days! Not a good thing if it doesn’t turn off before bedtime. To prevent insomnia, do a few breathing and relaxation exercises first, preceding some chamomile tea or warm milk, or whatever usually works for you. Some count sheep. I pray.
Bonus tip: Create good creative habits and you will learn to anchor and bring your creativity home. Whatever you do, be smart. Do not sleep with your smartphone by your side.