Creativity

You Were Born a Creative Genius

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I recently read a mind blowing article about Dr George Land who had been contracted by NASA to develop a specialized test to measure the creative potential of the agency’s rocket scientists and engineers. Proving quite effective the test left researchers wondering where creativity comes from and whether some people were just born with it or if it could be learned.

They decided to administer the very simple test, that determines a person’s ability to come up with new different and innovation ideas to a problem, to sixteen hundred children between the ages of four or five. The results showed that 98% of the children registered in the genius category for imagination. Astounded by this they continued the study looking at the same children at the age of 10 when 30% ranked in the genius category and again at age 15 when it had dropped to 12%. In looking at adults they found only 2% made genius.

Their results alerted other researchers to the disturbing awareness that our school system robs us of our creative genius. Looking at how the brain works they found two different forms of thinking that use different parts of the brain. One called divergent thinking, where imagination comes from, is used to generate new ideas and possibilities. The other, convergent involves judgement, decision making, criticizing and evaluation.

Land says our school systems teaches us to do both kind of thinking at the same time. When you come up with a new idea you immediately launch into all the ways it won’t work. This acts like driving a car with one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brakes. The neurons in the different parts of your brain start fighting with each other which diminishes your capacity. When you use creative thinking without evaluating at the same time more of your brain lights up and we expand your genius.

In my own experience with writing and then teaching creative writing I always knew the importance of separating the creative process from the critical process. You first have to let the words flow out without thinking they comes back later in editing mode. Until reading about Land’s findings I hadn’t thought a lot about how important it was to apply the separation of the creative from the critical to every area of our lives.

It’s not too late. Dr Land also found that we all have the ability to reclaim our creative juice if we chose. He suggests a simple practice to begin reclaiming your creative imagination at the heart of your genius. Consider your basic table fork and come up with twenty five ways to improve it. 

Or you could do this with any problem you are trying to solve. Don’t force this process. Just let your imagination run with the issue. Writing down any solutions that pop into your mind especially when your critical thinking mind is busy with other task like driving a car, going for a walk, taking a shower or washing the dishes. This allows possibilities to arise that you might not have considered.

Now that you have this awareness catch yourself when you immediately want to jump on an idea with all the reasons it won’t work. Rather be curious and allow more ideas and inspiration to flow in around all the ways it could work and feel your creative genius grow.


The Joy of Being Fully Creative

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Years ago I heard Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney give a lecture at the University of Washington. In the middle of this very academic speech, he paused, threw up both his hands and said, “just write for the joy of it” and then dipped back into the lecture. I don’t remember anything else from the talk but Heaney’s sudden burst of inspiration stayed with me because I think it really captured an essential element to being creative.

Whether you are cooking a great meal, growing a beautiful garden, writing a poem or singing in the community choir, you likely feel a deep sense of satisfaction and a joyfulness that comes with being creative. Creativity draws on the best of human nature: perception, imagination, intellect, inspiration, courage, intuition, and empathy. The urge to create asks us to bask in the experience of the world, to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell the magnificence around us. It allows us to celebrate, with the spirit of gratefulness for every aspect of our lives, the beauty and complexity the world offers. It can help us make meaning from our sufferings.

Being creative also breaks us free from our ruts and habits allowing us to look at the world anew. We are able to tell a story that touches others, envision a unique way of solving a problem or offer counsel with fresh clarity, even if we have struggled with the same material or ideas a hundred times before. Embracing our creativity allows us to tap a deeper more insightful way of knowing that expands beyond our conscious mind.

I think being creative feels so good because it connects us to divine imagination and when we actively participate in developing and fulfilling our gifts it feels like a mystical experience. We intuit that we are connected to something larger than ourselves which is perhaps the greatest gift that comes from following our creative urges. Early in my work as a writer when I became aware that I was writing from an inspired sense of flow, I would get this urge to look around the room to see where is was coming from because I sensed it was exactly coming from me. Now I am just always deeply grateful when I tap fully into that vein and welcome it with a sense of grace.

In looking for your own ways of being creative you can start by celebrating your uniqueness. There never was, nor ever will be, anyone exactly like you. In exploring your uniqueness there is often a central preoccupation, an interest or passion that runs through your life? There can also be more than one. If you can’t name it right now, think of something that you are fascinated by again and again. The possibilities are infinite, reaching from needlework to rock climbing, from bird watching to playing the piano, from English country dancing to writing haiku, from gardening to giving foot massages. Look for what brings you joy and then begin taking actions to embrace your creativity and enjoy the process.

Remaking the World with Creativity

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The other day I was headed into a cafe to meet a friend for lunch when I walked by a man at an outside table reading a book open to a page with a photo of human figures sculpted in metal. Continuing toward the door I felt the invisible hand of intuition turn me around to ask for the name of the book. It turned out to be something, I definitely wanted to read, titled The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World written in collaboration by a musical composer and a neuroscientist.

At the heart of the book is a discussion about the way humanity, with a brain wired for novelty and innovation, is continually remaking our world through the creative process, drawing on all that has been created before then rearranging or adding something new. The authors distill this remaking process into the three Bs: bending, breaking and blending. 

Bending involves changing something like adding air bags to make a safer automobile; breaking involves taking things apart and putting them back together in a new way and blending involves combining two separate images or ideas, like creating the mythic Pegasus by giving wings to a horse.

The book is loaded with examples of the three Bs starting with the astounding creativity involved in the dramatic rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts who were miraculously brought home to earth after the explosion in the command module on the way to the moon. In the same breath it talks about the way Picasso used the different aspect of recombination to revolutionize painting.

No culture in human history has been without its music, visual art and storytelling as part of the remaking process. This emphasis on creativity at the heart of youthful expression and discovery is not reflected in most of our school systems where the curriculum was designed to meet the needs of the industrial revolution.

In this fast changing world focusing on creativity can make a big difference in effective education. An elementary school in Burlington, Vermont, in an extremely disadvantaged area, was failing to meet even basic standards when they decided to add the arts to every part of the curriculum. This completely turned everything around. The students began to thrive and the school became a model within a few years.

The authors stress that creativity is now seen as a necessity in the modern workplace. The world today can use everyone embracing their creative urges. It can a big difference in their own live and communities. The question is how does each of us want to contribute to humanity’s continually remaking of the world and what do we want to create.

Footnote: Keep in mind that everyone is creative. It's a basic human capacity that can be learned and expanded. If you'd like a little help and have not yet received a copy of my free ebooklet Setting Your Creativity Free just enter your name and email in the box at the top right of the page and I’ll email it to you as a pdf download.


Where the Art of Writing Comes From

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Please get out of the habit of saying that you've got an idea for a short story. Art does not come from ideas. Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where you dream. Art comes from your unconscious; it comes from the white-hot center of you. - Robert Olen Butler

About twenty years ago while attending the poetry workshop at the writers conference at Port Townsend, Washington, I had a chance to talk to Robert Olen Butler who was teaching the fiction workshop. While sitting on the grassy knoll above the Puget Sound, he spoke of his time in Vietnam, when he served as military attache in Saigon, where he became fluent in the language. He loved the Vietnamese and would sit on a stoop in the middle of the night engaged in conversation.

At the time of the conference, though he had a reputation as a fine writer and a dedicated teacher, all his books were out of print. A few months later, his new collection of short stories, A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain won the Pulitzer Prize. The stories, which all involve characters that are Vietnamese, reflect the importance the people and the culture played in Butler's life and imagination.

Recently I came upon a book of his, From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction, in which he really emphasizes the importance of writing from the unconscious, the dream mind. He does a beautiful job of describing the difficulties involved as well as the importance of letting go of your linear mind and engaging your sensory and sensual experiences in order to fully tap the creative process.

In my own writing classes I start with a short meditation designed to quiet the mind and drop us all down into the heart mind, making it easier to access the imagination and creative flow. We then work with exercises to help in letting go, trusting the process and allowing what wants to be born out of the well of the subconscious to flow out on to the page.

Another key element I learned from Butler in a talk he gave at the conference, is that good writing was full of moment by moment sensual detail. Focusing on the felt sense of an experience, learning to let go and then writing about things that are really important to you are key ingredients in developing the art of writing.

Creativity as a Mystical Experience

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I firmly believe that all human beings have access to extraordinary energies and powers. Judging from accounts of mystical experience, heightened creativity, or exceptional performance by athletes and artists, we harbor a greater life than we know. - Jean Houston

Picasso spoke of taking his ego off before entering his painting studio the same way a Muslim takes his shoes off before entering a Mosque. He recognized that it was his connection to Spirit that allowed him to create. This may be how he manifested his genius.

The wonderful thing about this is that this connection is available to each one of us. It is a capacity that each of us is born with, yet it is quite common for us to be unaware of our creative capacity and how to access it. We have been taught to deny or diminish it. There is a wildness to our creative self that we have learned to tame.

Anyone who taps into the zone or flow becomes aware that something magical beyond their everyday self is happening. The first time I really hit the flow in my writing and I just knew I was writing sometime good, I paused for a moment to look around the room to see where it was coming from me because I didn't think it was coming from me. I did know that it felt really good and expansive. It felt divine.

Since then I have come to sense that when I am being creative I am co-creating with creation and that the mysterious forces that bring beauty and order to Nature are at work in me. After all the word muse means to be initiated into the mysteries.

What if this mystical union will help us solve the problems we face in the world today. What if this is the way to step beyond the level of thinking that created the problems and find truly new solutions. What if engaging your creative impulses in even small ways everyday can make a big difference.

Curiosity Cultivates Creativity

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“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” - Albert Einstein

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” - Leo Burnett

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most diversely talented individuals ever, was infinitely curious. He carried a notebook with him wherever he went and wrote down or sketched anything that aroused his curiosity. While best known for his paintings, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, he was also a sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer and inventor.

Being curious is a way of inviting creativity and can open us up to our unique genius. It opens our mind to make new connections and consider new possibilities. Albert Einstein attributed his brilliance to being passionately curious. Writer Henry James suggested to help your writing, “Try to be someone on whom nothing is lost.” With my writing students and coaching clients, I ask them to shake things up and do new things or visit a place they have never been before. Without curiosity, without "I wonder what would happen if I tried. . .", we would never create anything new.

Between my own creative work as a writer and my interest in nature, my curiosity about the world is finely honed. I love to eavesdrop on conversations or watch people in cafes, not out of noisiness, but a real interest in other people's lives and the wonderful range of possibilities for being human. I often get ideas for my writing that way. I'll make up stories about people to exercise my imagination.

Paying attention and being curious as I walk in Nature is a great way to practice mindfulness and live in the moment. It also allows me to feel connected to and nourished by a larger world. Observing Nature's great capacity as an artist also provides inspiration for my own creative work.

One of the things that ages us is doing the same old, same old over and over again. We do the same thing everyday, drive the same way to work, eat the same foods. The neural nets in our brain actually get rutted by our habits. Developing a habit of being curious and trying new things can keep us open to new possibilities and help keep us young as well as increasing our ability to be more creative.

TRY THIS: What are you curious about? It could be about trying a new recipe or visiting a new store that just opened. It could involve exploring a new place to walk or reading a book about a field you don’t know anything about but feel a pull toward. What can you do today to start building the muscle of your curiosity?

Do You Resist Showing Up to Be Creative?

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Recently I got a note from one of my writing students saying that she was really enjoying writing when she managed to find the time. The three top reasons that people give for not being able to fully show up, move forward or change some area of their life are, "I don't have enough time, I don't have enough money or My health isn't good enough."

On the surface these excuses appear valid and hard to argue with. In truth they always cover up some deeper resistance. When we really want to do something and commit to it we can always manage to find the time, the resources and a way to work around any physical limitations.

Robert Olen Butler who won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection of short stories A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain worked full time and had a difficult home life so he wrote everyday on the train computing into New York City. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, was a single mother struggling on state aid in Edinburgh Scotland where she sat everyday in a local cafe writing the first book in the series that would turn her into a multi-millionaire. These stories point to the reality that you don't have to have everything together or know exactly what you are doing or how you are going to make something work to begin whatever it is you want to create. Beginning opens you up to new possibilities.

With my writing coaching clients I start them out with a commitment to write a minimum of ten minutes a day. It would seem like everyone could find ten minutes, but if there are some unconscious beliefs and fears around expressing yourself or being creative then you will put it off until the end of the day and then say you are too tired. This is what resistance looks like.

If you are having trouble showing up to your writing, painting, music or exploring your creativity in some way, stop and get quiet. Take some deep breaths. Ask your deeper or higher self what's in the way. Then just see what comes to you. It may be a memory of your third grade teacher humiliating you in front of the class by criticizing a drawing you did or your father's refusal to let you take the dance class you so much wanted.

Such events really can impact the tender, vulnerable, innocent part of us that is our creative self and years later have us not wanting to risk being creative. If something comes up for you honor your feelings around it. If you feel sad or angry feel those feelings as a way of allowing them to shift and release their hold on you. Then send love to that part of you.

We also resist our creativity because it can take us into unknown territory and our mind which is committed to keeping us safe will put the brakes on when we veer from the routine. Becoming aware of what's in the way of your desire to create and being mindful and patience and kind with your self will help you cross new thresholds into being creative and finding time to show up.

EFT for Creativity

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. - Joseph Chilton Pierce

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I recently did creativity coaching work with a visual artist, a painter working with pastels, who was feeling blocked and uninspired. She had signed up for a four week coaching block. After our first conversation I had the sense that there was an emotional/energetic element to the block so I suggested we supplement the coaching work with an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or aka Tapping) session to shift whatever she was holding in her energy field that was keeping her from moving forward with her creativity.

Using deep intuitive listening I was able to help her hone in on the root of the problem. By the end of the four weeks she had switched to working with oils and has been happily creating again ever since. We were both delighted with the results and I was reminded of how powerful EFT can be in freeing us to be more creative and expansive in every area of our lives.

Creativity is a high energy state that gives you access to new ways of a looking at a problem and finding solutions. Everyone has creative abilities. They are not limited just to the arts. The ability to solve problems creatively can help you in every area of your life. And creativity is not the domain of just a few gifted individuals. Everyone is born with the same capacity to be creative. It just needs to be cultivated and encouraged. Our creative self is a tender, vulnerable aspect of ourselves associated with the spirit of play and our inner child, who can be easily traumatized. Most of us were not encouraged to develop this part of ourselves and many of us were actively discouraged with creativity being considered frivolous and the domain of the starving artist.

EFT can help in releasing blocks and limiting beliefs that get in the way to accessing our creative potential and the joy it can bring to our life. It works by tapping on the major acupuncture meridians while focusing on the problem to release the energy of negative emotions and traumas held in our energy body that keep us stuck in self limiting patterns. Once the energy is release the problem is resolved permanently. It can be effective on a wide array of issues including health, relationships, phobias, prosperity and, of course, our creativity.

Creativity and the Grace of Gratitude

If the only prayer you say in your whole life is “thank you”, that would suffice. - Meister Eckhart

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At its heart I see creativity as a celebration of ourselves, our lives and our world in all the myriad experiences and possibilities that come from being alive including the difficult. Creativity allows us to marvel at the gift of our lives. Lately I’ve started to see it as a way to express gratitude. And gratitude it turns out can bring all sorts of benefits to our lives.

Recently I read a research article on the proven benefits of focusing on what we are grateful for. Physically it strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases energy and vitality and improves the quality of our sleep. Psychologically it improves overall mental health, increases our ability to handle stress and brings us more joy, optimism and life satisfaction. Socially it allows for stronger interpersonal relationships and increases our feeling of interconnectedness as well as making us more forgiving, generous and compassionate.

Gratitude also works in a mysterious spiritual sense opening the doors to support from the universe. The English word gratitude comes from the Latin root grata or gratis meaning a given gift. The word grace, meaning a gift freely given that is unearned, comes from the same root. The ideas and inspirations that flow through creative acts always feel to me like grace.

There are lots of ways to focus on gratitude. Keeping a journal where each day we make a list of a least a few things we are grateful for is a popular one. Letting the people we care about know that we appreciate them is another. We can say thank you when someone holds the door open for us. I always wave a thank you when a car stops for me when I am crossing the street. When I’m out for a walk I often say thank you to the trees or birds and feel more connected to the earth.

Then there is being creative. What in your life would you like to celebrate with gratefulness. You could dance it around the living room, draw it in chalk on the sidewalk, sing it in the shower, write a poem, plant a flower or bake a cake all with the intention of expressing gratitude. 

Being grateful opens our heart and spirit so we can actually be more receptive to the creative impulses that are swirling around us. Take a minute right now. Focus on something or someone you are grateful for. Feel yourself open and expand as you do. What do you want to create from this place.

Nature Inspires Creativity

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When I received the inspiration for the name of my business Creativity Goes Wild I was on a modern day vision quest in an extraordinary canyon in southern Utah that allowed me to really open to the flow of new ideas. Along with the name, I also got that the essence of the work included three different elements: Nature, creativity and the soul which are aspects we can connect to that can really help us live full and authentic lives.

I have long thought of nature as the original artist. If you spend any time in nature and pay close attention, you become aware of the beauty and design and patterns in both small things like the symmetry in pine cones and snowflakes or on a grander scale the patterns in the erosion of mountains or the movement of clouds across the sky.

At first glance nature might look chaotic or random or disordered but the more you observe and learn about the natural world the more you become aware of the elegance of design in every creation. We can draw inspiration for our own creativity from spending time in Nature, the same way we feel inspired by visiting an art exhibit, going to a play or watching a good movie.

Spending time in nature actually slows down our brain waves, taking us from the beta waves where our mind attends to daily activities into alpha waves which offer a naturally meditative state where we access the part of our mind that has new thoughts and ideas, flashes of insight, and more readily makes connections. This can help us with the essence of the creative impulse and process.

Whenever I find myself stuck on a creative project I will go for a walk in nature and it always opens me back up to the flow. Or if I am looking for a place to begin a creative work I will plant the seed in my subconscious mind and then go to nature, not to think about it, but to allow the inspiration to rise to the surface of my mind.

Try it. Whether you like to sit in the garden or go for a walk among the trees, see if you don't find that connecting to nature doesn't open you up to new ideas and possibilities.

Creativity is Essential to Your Well Being

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Creative expression is an essential part of who we are as spirit and soul, and as important to our well being as eating healthy food and getting enough exercise, sleep and sunlight. When we experience creative flow the energy of the universe moves through us, which is why it feels so good. It opens us to new possibilities and awareness which can help us in every area of our lives and in these uncertain times.

The good news is that we are already more creative than we think. There are infinite ways we engage our creative self: teaching a class, planting a garden, creative problem solving at work or in parenting, decorating our home, cooking something new, writing a poem, singing in the shower, doing photography or taking a dance class. The list goes on. To more fully embrace our creativity it helps to understand exactly what creativity is and how it works.

Our rational, linear mind isn’t particularly creative. It can only take things that it already understands and move them around into a different configuration. When we have a brilliant idea or a profound solution to a problem or a flash of inspiration, it comes from beyond the mind. It comes out of our spirit, our heart, the essence of who we are.

People who are accomplished creatives all talk about being a vessel for something greater that flows through them as the source of their work. No matter how long I have worked with my own creativity, every time I tap the flow, there is always a “wow, where did that come from” feeling. Creative people who consistently produce notable work have somehow figured out how to get the mind out of the way and invite things to flow.

To benefit from being creative we do not have to be a great artist. We have only to look to children and the fun and joy they find in playing with imagination and creating something new. We all had that once. If we believe that we have lost it, it is never too late to get it back. In my coaching I’ve work with people, who are frustrated, exhausted, or overwhelmed by life, to begin embracing creativity in even small ways. It always helps. In my own life wherever I find myself in the doldrums even writing a quick draft of a poem lifts my spirit every time.

In being creative we increase our sense of aliveness and open to possibilities our minds never considered. Our mind fears uncertainty. We will always feel a bit uncomfortable trying something new yet we will feel inspired to take action. Even after all these years I feel resistant every time I sit down to create. I’ve learned not to let this stop me. We all can.

Start now. How can you make creativity part of taking care of yourself. Play with this. Be open to the possibilities. You will be glad you did.

How Ireland Supports Creativity

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Every May for a number of year I have lead a small group of travelers to explore the music, myths, magic and mystery of the place, the people and the culture.

I am always struck for the support for the arts in Ireland and just discovered a poetry walking tour in Galway City that honors a couple of dozen prominent Irish poets.

One of my favorite stories about the support for creativity in Ireland comes from an experience I had in the village of Doolin, County Clare which has been the epicenter for Celtic music revival in Ireland. Some of the best musicians in the country live there and play in the pubs.

One evening I went up to McGann’s pub to listen in. At one point a young boy about ten years old joined the group with his tin whistle. I learned that his parents brought him now and then, a two hour drive from their home, to encourage his desire to make music.

As he began to play the entire pub went quiet and as he continued one of the experienced musicians picked up his own tin whistle to support the lad through the places he couldn’t quite carry the notes on his own. At the end of the song the entire pub erupted into wild applause.

What if we all got that kind of support for our creative urges? What difference would it make? In Ireland with this kind of encouragement people come together in pubs all over the country to make music. It is a vibrant part of the culture. Three years after first hearing the boy with the tin whistle I was back in Doolin in a different pub and the same boy stepped up to play with a great deal more skill than before.

It’s not just music that is supported. In Ireland up until recently writers didn’t pay income tax and still artists don’t pay tax on what they make on the sale of their work. This honoring of the writers and poets has produced per capita more Nobel prize winning writers than any other country. With a population of 4 million, Ireland claims four Nobel laureates in literature along with a number of other writers of great stature.

How can we find ways to support our children, our grandchildren and ourselves in this vital part of being human. How can we honor the creative gifts that each of us hold in our own way and the world so deeply needs now.

What if it was as simple as a willingness to open up and play with however the creative process calls to us. Can we honor these creative yearnings and find community that supports our explorations. What would this look like for you? How would it feel?

Can you sense of joy fluttering in your heart at your willingness to play and create for no reason and see where the process leads. That will help you unplug from the pressure of feeling like you have to produce something. Rather being creative feeds our spirit and inspiration and support can show up for us in wonderful ways.

Playing with the Imagination

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Albert Einstein

You must give birth to your images.
They are the future waiting to be born . . .
Fear not the strangeness you feel.
The future must enter you
long before it happens.
Just wait for the birth,
for the hour of new clarity

- Rainer Maria Rilke

I often say to my writing and creativity coaching clients that your imagination is smarter than you are; like intuition it gives you a deeper, faster, more expanded means of gaining critical insights and making important connections than the more limited workings of your linear, rational mind. Whether you want to write, engage your creativity more fully or develop an ability for creative problem solving, your imagination is an essential tool. To exercise your imagination try the age old favorite of looking for shapes in the clouds; or go sit outside on a bench to watch people go by and make up stories about their lives; or go to a park and lean against a tree and imagine what it would say to you if it could talk; or lay down on the earth and ask her what simple thing you could do to help the planet. Then be open to the ideas, images or thought that arise in your mind.

One exercise I like to work with is asking advice of an imaginary mentor. You think of a question and then write the answer yourself as if you are getting a response from someone you admire. You can ask Einstein, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson or your grandmother. A woman I worked with did this exercise and received what was clearly really good advice. Unaccustomed to using her imagination in this way she asked, "how do I know if I am actually channeling this person or if I'm making it up". It's a great question because when we use our imagination it will feel and seem like we are making it up. And that's exactly how the imagination works.

We have a hard time trusting the information and ideas we get because we live in a culture that dismisses the power of the imagination but saying, "oh, you're just making that up" or we tell our children "it's just your imagination". Imagination is a tool of human consciousness that is underdeveloped in the modern world. Yet the more you engage it and play with it the stronger the connection becomes and you will begin to feel the quiet excitement and joy that comes from expanding this ability, that will give you new ways to looking at problems and solving them.

You can even ask your imagination for suggestions on how best to cultivate it. Sit quietly for five minutes following the flow of your breath and calming your mind. Then be open to what your imagination has to say to you. Try writing without thinking for ten minutes as if you were taking dictation from your imagination. Or you could ask your imagination what it wants from you and then answer the question by writing or drawing or even spontaneous movement where you let the thoughts and feelings flow.

Imagination is one way we access our deeper mind. It is a place where you shed your everyday self, where sparks fly and time stands still. It requires a bit of solitude and idleness. It asks that you slow down and sit still with your mind clear and expectant. It asks that you be willing to play.

Creativity: Being Part of Creation

Well, you're right in the work, you lose your sense of time, you're completely enraptured, you're completely caught up in what you're doing, and you're sort of swayed by the possibilities you see in this work. . . .The idea is to be. . .so saturated with it that there's no future or past, it"s just an extended present in which you're making meaning. - Mark Strand, poet

The thoughts that come to you are more valuable than the ones you seek. - Joubert

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Some years ago I read a wonderful book by Matthew Fox, titled, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet. In this book Fox, a former Catholic priest who had been censured by the Church for putting forth a doctrine of original blessing as opposed to original sin, suggests that when we are creative we become co-creators with creation.

I had been involved with creativity for a long time by the time I read his book; first with dance and photography and then a couple of decades spent writing so I knew immediately the truth of what he was saying. I remember the first time I really got on a roll with my writing and I knew that something good was coming out of my pen, I actually stopped and looked around the room to see where it was coming from because I knew it wasn't exactly coming from me. Since then I've come to the sense that it's Spirit or my Higher Self working through me and I've been able to integrate working with these mysterious forces as I write.

The word Muse has its origins in being intiated into the mysteries. And its important to understand that this connection is available to everyone not just a select few who are somehow born with this special gift. It is also not restricted to the arts.

The gift of creativity is woven deep into our being. Everytime we solve a problem we didn't "think" we could solve we are drawing on this invisible resource. We experience it in cooking, gardening, decorating our homes, raising our children, healing, teaching and business when we get the inspiration to do something in a new and expanded way. When we tap into this ability it feels great, it feels divine.

Regardless of where this creative inspiration comes from I've found that the more I show up to the practice of writing or anything else, the more I have a feel for working with this creative flow. It's like a muscle that gets stronger with use.

Joan King, a neuroscientist who has studied brain activity describes in her book Cellular Wisdom, "While such brainstorming [found in creative flow] is occurring, more and more neurons and neural pathways are being activated in the neural net. Consciousness acts like a spotlight, shining here and there, making connections, illuminating thought and memories, trying out possible solutions. As the process continues, more and more neurons are recruited, activating more of the great intermediate [neural] net." The key here is to stop thinking with your linear mind and let the creative imagination really run. Our linear mind has to get out of the way to let our big mind make its leaps and forge its connections.

Consider all the ways you are already being creative and what it feels like. Is there a sense of excitement and expansion when you exercise your creativity?. What would it takes for you to build more muscle in this area? I think the changes and challenges in the world today are actually calling forth this ability in each of us. They are asking us to embody our creativity in every area of our lives and in our contributions to the world. The beauty is that creation is waiting to help. We just need to show up, let go and step into the flow of being a co-creator. Our willingess is our invitation.


Are You Embracing Joy or Chasing Happiness

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We can spend so much of our lives in the pursuit of happiness that we often neglect to savor or even notice our moments of joy. Happiness feels more a long term goal, something we can be ever in search of. Joy is more an in the moment experience that has the quality of deep satisfaction.

There are certain experiences that universally ignite joy in a person. The sight of a rainbow or a hummingbird or a dolphin or cherry blossoms. A single flower has the capacity to fill us with joy if we let it. Joy is our reward for following what feeds our heart and soul. Our joy drives us toward what feels good to us.

Creativity can be a great source of joy. The act of being creative whether we finish anything or make anything that we consider good has at its core a sense of joyful satisfaction. As a writer with decades of experience it is that pleasure in the process that has sustained me over the years. 

Recently I’ve started working with watercolors having been drawn to purchase a wonderful little instruction kit. My mind thinks I’m not very good but my creative spirit is having fun just playing and learning something new. 

The joy at the heart of creativity is the deep soul satisfaction that comes from creating anything new. We open to the flow of something greater than ourselves and find ourselves fully present in the moment where we seem to have all the time in the world.

Embracing joy is like taking time out to appreciate being alive. Consider for yourself what brings you joy and intentionally increase that presence in your world. What else can you do to feed your creative soul? As we regularly embrace what brings us joy we may just find our happiness.

The Importance of Play

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If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play. - John Cleese

Play is our brain's favorite way of learning. - Diane Ackerman

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct. - Carl Jung

In my recent work with both creativity and writing coaching clients I've found that the key element in getting them out of the doldrums or a sense of being stuck or not being sure where to go with their work is play. Play gets us out of the mind's need for doing and it's focus on product and puts us in the place of being and enjoying the process.

Since creativity comes out of the alchemy of subconscious working in union with the mysteries, play is essential in accessing expanded states of awareness and putting us back into the flow.

This is true not just for art and creative expression but innovation and discoveries in science and technology. I always really enjoyed the books written for popular audiences by Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman that illuminated the way he thought and made his remarkable discoveries. One of the founders of theory of quantum physics. Feynman had an IQ of around 123 which is above average but not close to the genius he was considered to be.

He described his process that lead to his astonishing discoveries as "noodling around", his term for play. He was passionate about the subject and he would just play with different ideas and vantage points and let his mind run with the possibilities.

Ultimately when we engage in creative play in any endeavor it feels good.. Bright ideas, insights and inspiration stream in, time slows down so that hours feels like minutes and we are infused with a feeling of well being. On top of that play encourages variation and doing things in new ways actually builds new neural pathways in the brain which expands our ability to be creative.

So ask yourself, what can I do to add more play to my life and see what ideas pop into your mind as you go about your day. And then have fun!


Are You Adrift in a Sea of Distractions

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I started writing before the development of the personal computer, when cut and paste meant I was down on the floor with a pair of scissors and a jar of that thick white glue that smelled vaguely of peppermint. It was in many ways a simpler time with far less pulling on my attention.

Every morning upon rising I would make my single cup of French roast coffee, dripped through a Melitta, and then sit down to write. There weren't any thoughts like I’ve got to check my email or Twitter feed to interfere with putting words on the page.

If I needed to do research, I went to the library, the sacred hall of actual books. I would flip through the cards in the small wooden drawers of the card catalog to find the book I needed, check it out and carry it home.

Now I love my laptop. It make revision including cut and paste so much easier. It connects me to a larger world. I can Skype my friend in Australia and feel like I’m sitting in her living room talking. I can connect to the web to find wealth of information I need for my work.

Yet lately I’ve been thinking about the issue of distractions. The fast pace of our times pulls us in so many different directions at the same time. We can lose ourselves in the swarm of emails, the compulsion to engage social media, surf the web or check the notifications coming in on our phones.


I’m not suggesting that we need to give those things up. Rather what if we brought more awareness to what we really want to be doing with our time in each moment. What is we asked ourself the question “What would bring me the most happiness and joy right now.” If the answer is to post something on Facebook, great.

Bringing consciousness to our lives on a regular basis helps us chose the activity that feeds us and helps us create more of what we really want in our lives. Asking “what would bring me the most happiness at this time, can help us overcome procrastination and the distractions that can get in the way of our creating.

When I asked myself that question this morning I got that I wanted to write a blog about distractions. Writing is one of the things that always brings me a satisfaction as I tend to be more present and lose myself in flow.

What does this for you. Start being more mindful of what really brings you happiness. Maybe set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour to remind yourself to stop and ask the question and be more conscious of your choices. Play with it. See what shifts for you.

Creating with All Your Heart

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If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing. - Marc Chagall

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I recently saw a short film tribute to Chuck Berry, the undisputed father of rock and roll, with comments from John Lennon of the Beatles and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones both saying how much they admired Berry and tried to emulate his guitar work. Berry himself said that his secret was that he felt the music. Berry played with all his heart.

In my own creative work, especially with my writing, I have long been aware of the importance of connecting to the heart; both in the context of finding subjects and themes that make our hearts sing but also creating from the feeling place of the heart, from what we love and care about.

As Robert Frost said, “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” I always know that if I am moved in my own heart by a piece of my writing then it will genuinely touch other people.

For whatever you want to create, imagine dropping down into your heart and drawing on that feeling place for your inspiration and guidance. One of my clients envisions a wooden staircase leading from her mind to her heart and sees herself walking down them and when she reaches the bottom she immediately feels the clarity and expansiveness her heart has to offer.

Centering in our heart gives us access to our connection to all of creation which inspires and informs the highest expression of our creative self. It allows us to live and create from the place of expanded possibilities.



Are You Looking for Your Potential

We spend January 1st walking through our lives
room by room
drawing up a list of work to be done
cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year
to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives
not looking for flaws
but for potential.

Ellen Goodman

Most of us spend a lot of time and energy focused on what’s wrong with our lives, all the ways things aren’t working, all the mistakes we’ve made and all the things we want to change. These thoughts take us either to the past or the future and out of the present moment. This creates a great deal of resistance that feels like tension and stress in the body and blocks the flow of energy in our lives. This makes it difficult to consider what else is possible for our lives and the world.

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Looking for what’s wrong is a speciality of our mind which is committed to keeping us safe. This actually makes changing anything difficult. From the place of our minds we are afraid to look for our potential because this takes us into the unknown. Our mind wants certainty. Yet every new beginning in our life has always involved a dance with fear and a leap of faith.

Our heart and its knowing can help guide us into unknown, opening us to our potential and expanded possibilities. This awareness comes to us as intuition or felt sense of what to do. When we take a step new possibilities are more obvious. When we allow ourselves to be in the moment creative inspiration comes.

So how do you access more of your heart’s knowing when you have a decision to make about doing something new. Take a few slow deep breaths. This actually signal to the body that all is well, that you are safe. Consciously relax your body with each exhale and feel yourself arriving more into the present moment. Place your hand on your heart as you do this. You will generally just get a sense of yes or no. The heart doesn’t give a long explanation of things. You just know.

I use this technique to access my knowing all the time with wonderful results both in my own life and with clients. You really do know. Your mind wants to second guess everything but your heart knows. 

You feel in your gut what you are, dynamically pursue it - don’t back down, don’t give up - then you”ll mystify a lot of folks.- Bob Dylan

How Do We Allow Creativity to Flow

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When we get lost in a good book it’s because the writer got lost in letting the story come through as they wrote. I remember the first time when I got on a roll with my writing, where I knew I was writing something good. I stopped and looked around the room to see where it was coming from because I knew it wasn’t coming from my everyday self.

Since then I have come to understand writing comes from a dream-like state of consciousness of allowing what wants to be written to unfold. It doesn’t involve thinking or trying to figure it out but rather feeling and sensing what wants to be born and following that golden thread.

All creativity comes from this place of allowing something beyond our understanding to lead us. We can even create our lives from this place of expanded awareness. The trick is to let go of our need figure things out with our mind and our need try to control things to make things happen the way we think we want. Rather we let ourselves be surprised by what wants to unfold. We let go of the resistance we feel to letting go and letting our creativity and life flow.

We focus more on our heart and intuitive knowing. We pay attention to the inspiration that comes from that place and take action from there. We relax into being and let go of the need to push to complete our to do list. We are more present in the moment, paying attention to the world around us.

From this place we can pick up on the clues the universe or our creative self is giving us. Life becomes an adventure in allowing, an exploration of infinite possibilities. What if we think of our creativity and lives as a good book that we get lost in, where we can’t want to see happens next.