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  • Erin Whitten Crysdale

Meditation and Creativity

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

Can meditation "drop" you into creativity faster?

One of the challenges of being an artist is getting into that famous "flow" everyone talks about. When I'm preparing to paint, there is an almost physical sensation of resistance that I am met with. Perhaps it's the rational mind bumping up against the creative mind asking it to take a moment and think about the madness of spending countless hours searching for something, whether it be the perfect paint colour, brush stroke, or concept. This struggle can be paralyzing at worst but mostly it just wastes precious time. I call the days when flow eludes me as days spent chasing paint around a canvas.

I've been painting for over 20 years now, and about five years ago I finally got fed up with this delayed leap from resistance to flow. It just seemed exhausting to have to go through this every time I wanted to settle into a painting. I had noticed that it gets worst the longer I'm away from my studio and I found that a morning walk or run could help me connect to flow faster. I started to investigate the ways in which other creatives access flow and there seemed to be an emerging theme, Meditation.

So, with an open and investigative mind I joined a meditation group. I learned the technique called calm abiding and for the past five years I use this and insight meditation most days. The unexpected result has been a reduction in fear of failure and the constant hounding need for approval; both of these states of mind are creativity killers. My work has changed dramatically and regardless of the outcome of each canvas, I trust the process of transformation that I experiencing. I've discovered that a meditation practice not only provides a tremendous relief from the grinding mind that seems determined to have critical dialogue, but I also have space to truly applaud other artists in their endeavours without comparing their work to my work, or their financial or creative successes to my own. As for the leap from resistance to flow. The gap has changed, mostly because I am no longer giving the gap a solid form. Instead, after meditating, I relax into the act of painting, including fun/play and exploration time.

Meditation can develop an artist's ability to relax and breath into their work rather than chasing their images with a tight fist.

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