When I listen to interviews with writers or musicians, the interviewer inevitably asks the question: "From where does your inspiration and creativity come?" The answers vary, but usually people will say it is a mystery, or that their inspiration came out of nowhere, or that they just write down an experience they had in life. Paul McCartney has said that his song "Yesterday" -- one of the most famous songs written in the past centuries -- came to him in a dream.
All Creativity Comes From Within
All creativity comes from within, even if it is inspired by an outside experience. The outer experience triggers a feeling inside that unleashes the creative flow.
Roger Ebert, an American film critic and historian, journalist, screenwriter and author, expresses what many artists experience about their creative process:
"When I write, I fall into the zone many writers, painters, musicians, athletes, and craftsmen of all sorts seem to share: In doing something I enjoy and am expert at, deliberate thought falls aside and it is all just THERE. I think of the next word no more than the composer thinks of the next note."
What is this zone that Ebert refers to falling into?
The great German composer Richard Strauss alludes to this zone in a description of his creative process:
"Composing is a procedure that is not so readily explained. When the inspiration comes, it is something of so subtle, tenuous, will-o-the-wisp-like nature that it almost defies definition. When in my most inspired moods, I have definite compelling visions, involving a higher selfhood. I feel at such moments that I am tapping the source of Infinite and Eternal energy from which you and I and all things proceed." [i]
Can anyone tap into this field of pure energy or is it only reserved for the rare creative genius?
Everyone has this zone within themselves -- what Strauss calls the source of infinite and eternal energy. Ironically, this source of infinite energy is found in the silence at the depths of our consciousness.
What Are the Levels of Consciousness?
The surface level of the conscious mind contains our every day thoughts, to-do lists, worries, and creative ideas. However there are quieter levels of the conscious mind that consist of subtle feelings and intuitions.
These quieter subtler levels of consciousness are teeming with more energy, intelligence, and creativity. The subtlest level, transcendental consciousness, is beyond the field of thought and is the most silent level of our Being -- an unbounded state of inner wakefulness -- pure consciousness. This field of pure consciousness is equivalent to this field of infinite energy that Strauss refers to in the above quote.
How Can One Experience Being?
Fortunately everyone can easily experience this transcendent level within through meditation. I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation since 1972. It is totally effortless, enjoyable, and even from my first meditation I noticed many positive changes.
The first major change I noticed was that I started to focus on my schoolwork, rather than on how to avoid doing my homework. The most thrilling change was the creative energy that would swell up inside me. I had to find outlets for this flow of creativity through cooking, sewing or journaling.
I never considered myself to be a musician, writer or poet. As a teenager, I was not an artist or did I have any inkling towards writing. Feeling all this creative energy was a completely new experience for me. The outcome of all this energy was an outpouring of poems, songs, and now blog posts.
I can't even begin to proclaim that I write timeless, ethereal music like Strauss. However, I can describe the exhilarating joy I feel when I am experiencing this effortless flow of creativity. Sometimes it feels so effortless that I feel I am not even the writer or the composer -- the song is composing itself. In fact, whenever I try to write a song, or poem it never works and feels false.
Catching the Big Fish
I notice more and more that I am catching ideas from a deeper level. In his book, Catching the Big Fish, the great filmmaker David Lynch describes this process of catching ideas that emerge from deep within:
"Here's how it works: Inside every human being is an ocean of pure, vibrant consciousness. When you 'transcend' in Transcendental Meditation you dive down into that ocean of pure consciousness. You splash into it. And it's bliss. You can vibrate with this bliss. Experiencing pure consciousness enlivens it, expands it. It starts to unfold and grow ... You can catch ideas at a deeper level. And creativity really flows. It makes life more like a fantastic game."
Following are two poems that express my creative process.
The page is staring at me --
blank, lifeless, and white --
waiting for my thoughts to fly free
and my pen to take poetic flight.
I see before me all possibilities --
the bubbling of pure delight --
Silence is unlocking its mysteries
like stars clustering in the night.
The direction is not yet clear
but do I need to know the way?
At this stage, I should not fear
for silence over me has sway;
always guiding me from its empty sphere --
its eternal inward play.
My tender feelings I need to hear
as they begin to unfold like a golden ray.
Silence sings its own song
from its ancient flowing hum.
Here the poet's mind belongs
from where the stirring of sound comes.
His words will then burst like the dawn
filling the page with gentle rhythms
and meanings that leap like a fawn
forming the depths of silence's wisdom.
In Silence I Hear
Tell me your wise words,
Dictate them sweetly to me.
Let them come like a rushing herd,
Or waves rolling on the sea.
My mind is still and clear,
Like the depths of a crystal pond.
In this silence I gently hear
Your words softly coming on.
In metaphors, in rhythmic rhyme
They flow like a stream.
Rising in my awareness they climb
Forming the poetry of the Supreme.
i. Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers (Philosophical Library, Inc., c1955, 1987; reprint, New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1994), 86.
Ann Purcell is an author and has been teaching meditation around the world since 1973. In addition, she has worked on curricula and course development for universities and continuing education programs. Her latest book, The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment was released on March 13, 2015
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