You’ve tried meditation, right?
You desperately need something that will help you combat stress and calm you down.
All the experts in meditation say it will make you more peaceful and more present.
You want to go through that doorway into the unknown where meditation is supposed to take you. But you just can’t get your mind to quiet down.
As soon as your mind starts to settle, you start remembering the chores you haven’t finished or the fight you had with your friend.
And though you wanted it to work so badly, it’s just not happening.
How Meditation and Creativity Are Actually Quite Similar (And Have Similar Benefits)
Meditation and creativity being similar may sound counter-intuitive, since meditation is sitting still in solitude while creativity seems like a messy, social, busy type of activity.
You may also think that you need certain artistic skills to be creative, since it is usually the very artistic that are considered the creative ones.
However, neither is the case. Even though creativity looks so different from meditation, when you look at the process and benefits of each, you can see many similarities. And you don’t need incredible artistic skills to tap into your creativity — especially not with process-based creativity, which we´ll be discussing here.
Meditation is all about being in the moment.
You do nothing, quiet your mind and stay in the present, accepting whatever comes.
Process-based creativity, which is improvisational, is actually very similar. You quiet your mind and accept whatever comes. It’s not about creating a perfect picture or sculpture, but about being in the moment.
As in meditation, you focus attention on what’s happening in a zen-like manner, let go of your inner critic and concentrate on what you are doing in the present.
When done correctly, creativity stretches you out of your comfort zone, creating new neural pathways, transforming your brain and allowing you to create with the skills you already have.
It’s wonderful for dealing with powerful emotions and helps release tension and irritation.
As in meditation, you develop trust in the unknown, as creativity includes a willingness to traverse unfamiliar territory.
How The Right Creative Activities Can Heal Your Mind Just Like Meditation
If your experiences with creativity have not been positive, you may struggle to believe all this.
If you’ve never felt that creative, you’re probably not aware how creative processes can benefit your mind.
Most likely, you feel uncreative only because your arts and crafts projects in kindergarten suppressed your creativity instead of helping it to bloom.
Your teacher probably gave you a model that you and your classmates were expected to copy. But these copycat crafts never allowed you to think originally, express yourself, or take initiative.
Instead, since you were too young to accurately copy the model, you developed low self-esteem, anxieties, and a fear of taking risks. This is why you might not feel like a creative person.
Therefore, if you decide to try creativity instead of meditation, it should be improvisational, process-only creativity. Improvisation is a way of being artistic with no pre-planning and no particular concentration on the process.
Unplanned creativity allows you to let go of control and be in the moment. It keeps you from overthinking and ruminating.
Improvisational creativity has many venues. Dance, movement, music, sculpture art…all of them allow you to discharge your emotions and recharge your energy, each in its own way.
I particularly love unplanned painting because it is easily accessed and it is an incredible tool for discovering how you tick.
It loosens up your thinking, revealing the processes of deep thought and decision-making.
However, to reach a meditation-like state through creativity, you do have to keep a few rules in mind.
The 3 Rules You Must Follow to reach meditative states through Creativity
The 3 important rules about improvisational creativity are:
1. It must be unplanned
2. You must focus on the process, not the product
3. Mistakes must be accepted
Let me show you how this would be applied, using painting as an example.
Watercolor painting can help you to be spontaneous, because it’s easy to do and to clean up. Since it’s not a controlled type of paint, it doesn’t allow you to make exact polished pictures. This is good.
It forces you to relax. It’s wet, loose and colorful, and a wonderful vehicle for play and improvisation.
The watercolors allow you to let go of the rules and deeply concentrate on the process. It’s like concentrating on your breathing…just allowing the paint to move around on your paper.
As you paint, you focus on the process, on the moment, accepting all mistakes. You become totally focused on what you are doing without worrying about the end result.
Accept whatever you do as good, and feel the peace as you paint.
You won’t have to try very hard to quiet your mind, as it will flow freely along with your brush, your paint and your images.
The more you paint, the more you will take risks, making it easier for you the next time you pick up a brush.
When you let go of what you think should be the outcome of your painting, then the magic begins and the meditative qualities of the activity take over.
This works the same way with other creative venues. Sculpting is similar to painting as it is also a wet, flexible material and lends itself to focusing on the moment.
If you are interested in dancing, let go of your inner critic that cares how you look. You can dance improvisationally in private, getting into the moment and letting your body move to the music without worrying about making mistakes and looking silly.
4 Steps to Get Started with Improvisational Creativity
Painting is an easy way for beginners to practice improvisational creativity. So here’s a quick 4-step guide to get you started.
Step 1: Choose to make a commitment to paint yourself into a meditative state.
Step 2: Buy a 10×7 (or 6) pad of watercolor paper to be your art journal. In addition, buy a set of good pan watercolor paints and brushes; I personally have a medium size 8-inch round brush and a small thin one for details (You can purchase these at a local or online art supply store).
Step 3: Start your first painting by just making dots: large dots, small dots, dots on top of dots, overlapped dots, light and dark dots, dots joined together, etc. There are no rules except that this is all about dots (Just the exercise of not making anything specific is meditative).
Step 4: start your second creative activity by making a simple scribble design with black paint. Fill the page with this scribble. Then fill in 2 or 3 shapes with black and the rest with other colors. This will be a beautiful abstract design.
These are just two of many exercises that can help you reach a flow state, making you want to reach for your pad and paints every time you need to relax your mind.
Tap Into Your Inner Creativity to Reach Meditative States
Realize that just as meditation takes work,so does getting into the flow with unplanned painting. It may not happen right away, and at first, it may be hard to resist that urge to “make something.” It may take you a few tries till you can really let go and just paint.
Once you realize how relaxed you feel after finishing a painting, you will be hooked.You body will feel looser and more energized and you will be more able to tackle those difficult things in life.
So go out and get yourself those paints and pad. Your peace of mind depends on it.