March 16, 2010

Meditative Creativity

In college, I tried working on a paper on the connection between extended boredom and creative blocks. I never found enough material on the subject to do the research paper, so I chose a different topic. I forgot about this old thought until I realized similar times now produce my best bursts of creativity, and I was surprised to discover the difference between my mindset then and now.

All those years ago, when I was doing housework, stocking shelves, or anything else I found less than fascinating yet engaging enough to require my attention, I spent my time thinking just enough about the job to get it done well while mentally complaining about how boring the job was. It's not surprising after a few weeks of going from basic classes to a part-time retail job to cleaning up before bed, I had difficulty shifting gears in the limited time I had for pleasure writing. Yet, as I've matured, tasks such as housework have become so automatic, my mind can almost completely disengage from the work at hand without hampering how well I do the job, leaving my thoughts free to drift.

Housework has become my meditation time. Some days I actively brainstorm. Others, I let my mind blank. Those are the days when the bursts of inspiration come. Sometimes it's a whole new idea. Some days it's a new thought regarding an old idea.

I've come to realize I'm never bored unless I waste time meditating on how much I dislike a task. If instead I turn my mind to a subject simmering on the back burner or let my thoughts go quiet, I find myself thinking of something new, in a new way, or just refresh and tidy the mental workspace, even if attention is divided between the task at hand and meditation.

So what about you?

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