Over the past two years, I have been drawn to pair creativity and meditation on retreat to see how they fit together. An experiment really, but I have a premise in mind: In both meditation and creativity we tend to go back and forth with interest in our experience, the question of doing it right or not, along with pressure to make progress, or have a product to show for our efforts.
Both processes are dynamic, ongoing, and nuanced. Seclusion and focus, stimulation and focus, relaxation and focus – we can find ourselves receiving and encouraging altered states of mind with both. Losing track of time and our senses, the arising of a ‘not self’ or flow experience, and scenarios that don’t make sense are what many of us report.
Like a teddy bear with thorns, a rose with claws, or friendliness towards ‘the other side’.
Many of us have not thought of ourselves as creative, and have preconceptions of what creative means: an artist, writer or innovator, with talent and sophistication, but definitely not me! It has been hard to equate what emerges for us on a meditation retreat (sense of relaxation, our own writing, drawing, insights…) with the established creatives whose work set a high bar in our mind.
So, another premise is born: Both the meditative process and the creative process disrupt our certainty, while developing skillful qualities and a variety of sense impressions. How we put things together and act upon them is also a part of both processes.