Post from September, 2016

Listening to the Silence

Sunday, 18. September 2016 23:55

Meditation is said to enhance both creativity and productivity. However, meditation requires discipline and practice; without a coach and some training, formal meditation may be beyond the reach of some. What is often overlooked is that there are various forms of meditation. For example, some time ago I ran across a variation that was previously unknown to me. It was in one of those “10 Habits of Highly Successful People” lists (which I wasn’t able to find it again for reference for this post); this list said essentially that successful people take some time every day for quiet, or introspection, or meditation or devotion, time to just be. What I will call “personal quiet time.”

While formal meditation may be, in many ways, superior to a personal quiet time, there is much to recommend the latter; while personal quiet time does take discipline, it does not take the training that meditation does. And the goals are the same: taking some time to free the mind, preferably every day. And while freeing the mind every day may or may not help make one successful, it can certainly be beneficial in the same ways as meditation.

Something about the way this personal quiet time idea was presented struck me. Perhaps because I have an interest in mindfulness, I decided to give it a try. The space I found for this experiment has a comfortable place to sit, a large window that faces east, several pieces of art that I have seen hundreds of time but that still invite contemplation.

Every morning I set aside a time to just be. Well, actually, it has a bit more structure than that. Every morning I sit in the same place and read one chapter (some would say verse) of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. (Probably many other books would do as well.) Then I just let my mind wander; there is no effort to make the mind empty as there is in formal meditation. Sometimes it wanders over what I have just read. Sometimes it wanders over one or more art pieces or out into the yard beyond the window. Other times it wanders to the future and puts the events of the day in order, or it wanders to dreams, or it just wanders. And sometimes solutions for problems or ideas for new projects or new approaches to old projects appear—out of the air.

Early on, I learned that music did not enhance the experience; rather, it detracted from it. So now there are no sounds other than those made by the house. I’ve come to think of it as listening to the silence.

How long does this go on? The time it takes to unhurriedly drink a cup of tea (coffee would work too of course); it varies from day to day (usually between 15 and 30 minutes). And so I sit, and listen to the silence, and let my mind drift.

It’s very like meditation in that it seems to generate an altered state of consciousness, somewhat akin to a very light trance. And when it’s over I come back to myself and the “real” part of the day begins.

In just over 30 days it has become an important part of my day. So important that I will get up earlier, if necessary, in order to have that time before I have to be somewhere doing something—and I am not a person who takes getting up earlier lightly.

The benefit is worth it. My creativity and productivity have improved dramatically in the short time I have been practicing listening to the silence. Whether it would do the same for you I have no idea. I do, however, recommend that you find some way to unplug and take a few moments for yourself every day—to just be. You may see a difference in your work, and maybe in your life.

Category:Creativity, Productivity | Comment (0) | Author:

Be Like Rita

Sunday, 4. September 2016 23:30

Rita Dove is not only a woman who writes amazing poetry, she is the second African-American to win a Pulitzer prize for poetry and the youngest person ever to be named United States Poet Laureate. Moreover, she has received 25 honorary doctorates as well as a host of other prestigious awards. If you look on the internet, you can find a number of quotes that are attributed to her.

Most of those quotes have to do with things other than art, but there are a few that do, and those few describe an approach to art that would benefit almost any artist. Her art, of course, is poetry, but you do not have to be a poet to apply her words. Just substitute your own art or arts whenever she refers to poetry and you will see why what she has to say is important.

Concerning her creative goals, she says, “All I ever wanted to do was write the best damn poem that I could write – a poem that was true and honest and the very best I could write artistically and linguistically.” What could be a better goal for an artist? Work that is true and honest and the very best that one can create both artistically and mechanically is all any of us could strive for. How many of us have gone to our theatres or computers or studios and done work that was maybe just a little less than true and honest? Or perhaps, on an off day, we did not do the best that we could either artistically or mechanically or both. If so, maybe our own creative goals could stand a little re-examination.

Continuing on the subject of truth, she finds it important to be true to oneself and recognizes that in doing that, the artist is being true to a much larger constituency. She says, “Being true to yourself really means being true to all the complexities of the human spirit.” Because (1) we are all connected and (2) the complex being that is us reflects all those complexities that make up humanity, in being true to ourselves, we cannot but make more empathetic, more complex, or more truthful art.

Dove says this of her approach to creating: “Every time I sit down to write, I try to feel that I’m starting over. It’s all new. It’s all fresh, and I’m learning as we go.” And “I make a discovery in a poem as I write it.” How better to make art? Every project in brand new and fresh. The artist makes discoveries and learns both artistically and personally as he/she creates. This does not mean, of course, that the artist does not bring all his/her experience and learning to the project. But if the project is to be more than a recycling of old ideas and formulas and means of expression, it must be new and fresh and full of discovery. Otherwise the work is, in the words of Konstantin Stanislavski, imitative art or worse, hack work, and who wants to be associated with that?

So, perhaps if we were to follow Dove’s advice about creative goals and being true to ourselves, as well as adopting her approach to creation, we might find that our work is more honest, more reflective of us, fresher, more innovative—better.

Category:Creativity | Comment (0) | Author:

hogan outlet hogan outlet online golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher hogan outlet hogan outlet hogan outlet hogan outlet hogan outlet