Fall has indeed arrived here in Chicago, and I am returning from my blog-break to once again rabble-rouse for innovation to reign and your creativity to blossom throughout this new season and beyond.
I’ll remember this summer as one where I worked less on business but more on my mind — specifically, on trying to detach from the addictions of mind. Creativity is the nimble dance between mind and heart, but so many of us get caught in a stranglehold of mind so that we are blocked from expressing ourselves, taking risks, seeing differently and feeling free to create (not to mention just feeling good). The mind is a powerful instrument, but, as Eckhart Tolle in his classic The Power of Now explains, “about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is harmful.” Too much of our thinking — especially in this Information Overload-Great Recession-Multi-Tasking world of ours — is spent stuck on shoulds, fears, anxiety about the future and replays of the past.
I know mine was. So I consciously broke from my normal routine, both physically and mentally, and shifted my mindset. I was lucky to spend more time than I ever have on Lake Michigan, thanks to my friend Joe and his sailboat (above). I truly was able to incubate — a key part of the creative process — in water and for more prolonged periods than I have before. I was able to leave my scolding mind with the buildings of the city and embrace the great creative principle of “Not Knowing” — seeing with fresh eyes, giving up being right and smart and an expert. My mind stopped being king, and frankly I feel much better and more ready to imagine and create a future that works for me.
The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against other minds, gathering, storing, and analyzing information–that is what it is good at, but it is not at all creative. All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. Even the great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude.
~from The Power of Now, p. 19-20
I know I was extremely lucky to be able to take a partial break this summer, and that it’s hard to find the time for “mental quietude.” But you can find a way to reduce your “predominance of mind,” as Tolle would call it, both for your own sanity and to be more creative. Read The Power of Now. Learn to Meditate. Swim, run, practice Tai Chi, paint or lose yourself in a creative pursuit that gets you out of your thoughts. The key is to be aware of — and to be less enslaved by — your involuntary internal dialogue, especially the nasty, needless thoughts that create stress but little else of value.