Creativity coach and therapist Eric Maisel, PhD notes the word mindfulness stands for “the nonjudgmental observation and acknowledgment of our thoughts.
We notice the thought – for example, ‘I am running from my writing’ – and acknowledge that we had the thought. The thought comes, we notice it, and it goes.”
So, how is that relevant or useful for creative thinking and creative work?
In my experience, one of the ways I have limited my creative expression is through identifying too much with my rational thinking, and elevating it as the primary “authority” in making choices – above other ways of knowing.
Maisel explains, “The central goal of ordinary mindfulness is to let such thoughts come and go without experiencing pain, without holding onto them, and without turning them into monsters that eat us alive.”
But the goal of creative mindfulness, he says, is “not only the nonjudgmental observation of your thoughts but complete right thinking that leads to authenticity, creativity, and mental health. The high ideal of creative mindfulness is to master ordinary mindfulness, in the sense in which Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others have described it, and to employ that mastery in the service of deep thought, rich action, and wide-awake living.”
Maisel enumerates six strategies of creative mindfulness, including:
“Fearlessly observe your thoughts. All of your excuses, all the ways you unhinge yourself, all of your dodges, all of your secret complaints and sources of pain, are right there in the thoughts you are thinking. Awaken to the knowledge of your own thoughts.
“Free your neurons, empty your mind, and ready yourself for creating. Ordinary mindfulness is the observation of thought. Creative mindfulness requires that you vanish, your mind hushed, so that your creative thoughts can appear. Open to an ever-deepening silence that is pregnant with your coming creative work.”