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Emptying your mind
for creative renewal
How to get over a
creatively DRY period
and refresh your mind
Creative renewal is such an important part
of the creative process. Every mind goes stale after a while.
You need to empty your cup. Go on, chuck out the dregs of the
previous 12 months. Empty yourself. Become new again.
Why is creative renewal important?
run on energy. Bursts of inspiration and enthusiasm take us
only so far. Towards the end we are running out of steam.
Scratching the leavings from the bottom of the bowl. We start
to fade, becoming insipid and uninspired. Our work lacks light.
There is no 'joie de vivre', no spark. What can we do? How can
we get our freshness back? How can we revitalize our thinking?
The only way is through creative renewal. We must renew
ourselves, shedding the old skins and growing into a new
form... kinda like Madonna! She must be thousand years old by
now, and she just keeps re-inventing herself. More power to
her, I say!
What is creative renewal?
your Mom and Dad used to make you do the washing up? Back in
the days before dishwashing machines (or are you too young to
know about such a time?)... You would start washing those
sticky, gravy-covered plates and the water in the sink would
get progressively more disgusting. Well, I hate to say it but
your mind gets a bit like that filthy, skanky water! When it
gets so bad that you can't wash the plates properly you have to
chuck it out, rinse out the goo, and refill it with fresh water
and Fairy Liquid! Creative renewal involves emptying your mind
and seeing things afresh. You've got to go back to the
beginner's mind, or to the baby mind, as the Zen masters would
have it. You've got to empty your mind of all the s**tty ideas
and misformed concepts that you've accumulated into your
know-it-all mind. Pour them down the drain (or into your
notebook, see human
craptivator for brain-waste recycling concept). Say
sayonara to that old gunk!
Who should practice creative renewal?
I think anyone over the age of 18 should practice creative
renewal on a regular basis. Most teens are so jaded that they
could do with a good mind washing (notice I didn't say brain
washing -- most of them have already subscribed to various
forms of that anyway. Oh shush, don't get your angst in a
twist, kids -- I'm a teen too... I'm faux-teen years old!).
Basically anyone who wants to feel more alive, and experience
more joy from life, and have greater insights into the world
they are living in, should practice creative renewal.
When is a good time to practice creative
Now is always the time. What other time is there? Caveat to
that is that, if you are in the midst of a project, and it's
going well, and you are firing on all cylinders, don't go
throwing a spanner in the works. Wait till you've finished or
until you've reached a hiatus in the work or a time for
re-evaulation. Let creative energy run it's course. But if it's
wearing thin, then by all means get your head out of your ass
and practice creative renewal. Between projects is ideal timing
for creative renewal. At the conclusion of a project that has
gone tits-up is another great time for creative renewal.
Instead of beating yourself up because your business sucked
eggs on a world championship level, sweep it out of your mind.
Take the lessons, of course, but don't carry the baggage with
you. Start anew, start afresh. See with new eyes. Other great
times for creative renewal? End of the year, start of the new
year. On your birthday. When you are feeling tired and jaded.
When you want to shine and stand out. When you need to inject
some personality rather than be a clone-drone. Heck, I'm going
go for it and say every fu**ing second! Life's too precious to
miss. Make the most of it. Renew yourself!
Where do you do creative renewal?
In your head. In your bed. In the boardroom. In the classroom.
At the kitchen table. With your Aunty Mable! Life is where you
are at. Do your creative renewal everywhere. What are you
missing? What aren't you seeing anymore? What have you become
blind to? Come on! Strip the fat off your eyes, cleanse the
retinas of your soul and come alive! Where? Right there where
you are NOW! You are alive! Isn't about time you reminded
yourself of how great that is? See like a baby! Listen like a
baby. Touch like a baby! Taste like a baby! Smell like a
baby... well, maybe not that one! ;-)
How do you do creative renewal?
Oh darn, I knew that question was going to catch up with me.
We've talked about the importance of creative renewal, who
should do it, why you should do it, what it is, where and when
you shoud practice creative renewal. And now we need to know
HOW to do it?
Mind Purge -- Emptying Your Cup
There are various forms of brain dump you can practice to empty
your mind and get existing ideas "OUT" of your head and into
reality. You can:
- Discuss your ideas and thoughts with friends or
- Write down your ideas, beliefs, paradigms and concepts
in a good old self-reflective journalling session.
- Record your ideas and thoughts onto audio cds or mp3
The key to this is to really push yourself to purge. You
need a mental emetic and laxative so that it is coming out at
all ends! Questions really help dig into what you think and
believe. Come up with some corkers to explicate your deeper
thoughts and ideas.
Cerebral Colonic -- Washing the Sh*t Out of Your
You want to stick a pipe up the ass of your mind and flush it
out! How in God's Sweet Heaven can we do that? I'm so glad you
asked. Give me a moment to come up with the answer and then I
will gladly tell you. Okay. Okay, here we go. I hope you like
it. I think the only 'water' that really flushes your mind good
and proper is increased awareness.
The most powerful experiences of creative renewal that I
have had have come through meditation, contemplation and, above
all, self-knowledge resulting from becoming more aware of how
my mind works. The real master of this was a guy, now dead,
called Krishnamurti. Unfortunately he was kind of complicated
to understand unless you had a lot of time to reflect, read his
books, and absorb his ideas. If it interests you, I recommend
his notebooks/journals as the easiest way into his teaching.
You can learn more from reading about his daily experiences and
stories, than wading into his lectures.
Let me attempt to give you the simplified version. For me,
it is this: watch your mind. Observe it without judgement. Just
notice what happens and how it works. Force yourself to 'renew'
your 'gaze' every moment. Watch and listen to what is. Let your
thoughts fade out of the way as you become intently interested
in what IS right NOW. See things as if for the first time.
Listen as if for the first time.
Do you need to set aside meditation time for this? Yes and
no. I say YES because if you don't you will forget about it. At
least if you sit down with the intention or hope of emptying
your mind and expanding your awareness, you might just achieve
it. Krishnamurti on the other hand would shriek NO to the idea
of formalized meditation. He thought that meditation should be
a spontaneous experience, that you should bring that
'watchfulness' into every moment so that you can develop the
This is hard to describe and has to be experienced. My
experiences with it were the most profound, meaningful
experiences of my life that gave me powerful connections with
Life and access to wisdom which I've never found elsewhere. All
through this creative renewal process we've been discussing in
Lump it or dump it
We carry so much friggin' mental baggage! I think we need to
take a lead from the airlines and restrict baggage to a
minimum! You've got ideas rolling around in your head that are
long past their sell-by date. Stop hauling them around. Either
give them a jolt with the electric paddles and try and bring
them back to life, or bury them. If you must, let them
fertilize new ideas. But if they really stink to high heaven,
think 'Forget About It!'. Shrug your shoulders and move on with
life. You live in an abundant universe. You live in an even
more abundant idea universe, but we all go round clutching our
dirty little idea wallets to our chests as if we had the crown
jewels in there. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. Either
activate those ideas and do something with them, or recycle
them, or dump them. Just don't waste any more life touting them
around with you. They just get in the way of being creative
Common sense forms of creative renewal
It's not all meditating on your navel. Good old common sense
forms of creative renewal include doing things differently,
changing your routine and trying new experiences. The only
limitations to experimenting with new experiences are your
imagination, your time and your budget. That's why we also talk
about awareness -- it's a lot cheaper than thrillseeking by
going abroad, going to fancy restaurants or buying a new car!
Nonetheless a change, as they say, is as good as a rest. I'm a
big believer in doing silly things. Like trying to climb up the
stairs on all fours -- backwards. Or fooling around Monty
Python style. Anything to break out of mental ruts. Sometimes
you need to take the snow globe approach to creative renewal
and just give yourself a good shake!
Give birth to your baby mind
Look at babies -- baby humans, kittens, puppies, lambs, foals,
piglets, cubs... they all have such freshness and joy in life.
Of course, we can't expect to go round googley-eyed all the
time. But every so often it does you the world of good to wipe
clean your mental hard disk, and just let life fall on your
senses as though for the first time. You'll rediscover joy and
wonder at life. I recommend a dose of nature. Turn on the
Discovery channel or tune into David Attenborough or repeats of
the late Steve Irwin to get enthused about this wonderful world
you inhabit. Better yet get out into your garden or the local
park. Get down on the grass and watch the ants. Follow a
butterfly or gaze closely at a pretty flower.
Creative renewal is about emptying your
mind of the old and the familiar. It's about getting away from
habit and routine. It's about seeing new things or things anew.
Life is worth living well, and creative renewal will help you
get the most from it.
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