One of 2017’s most-ubiquitous buzzwords, mindfulness, is worth a closer look in 2018 as we round out January’s New Year series. If you didn’t hear about mindfulness last year, you must have been on media sabbatical. (Or, maybe, you were off the grid, actually being mindful!?)
What is mindfulness?
According to expert, Ellen Langer, “Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective.” So…being alert? That’s it?! Yes, and no.
Creatives naturally notice the details of surroundings, climate, and setting. But we also spend a lot of time inside our own heads, exploring, analyzing, and rearranging. It’s beneficial to take a few moments and purposely ground ourselves in the here and now. It’s a reset button, of sorts. Start by noticing your breath, then the temperature of the room, the time of day, and all your surroundings. Then move on to your feelings. Are you: Hungry? Tired? Angry? Sad? What can you do to express or redirect the feelings that are destructive? How can you make them constructive? What feelings do you want to bring into the rest of your day? To your project? Spend a few minutes checking in with yourself.
How does mindfulness promote creativity?
This article on Mindful.com suggests that meditating can facilitate clearer, more focused brainstorm sessions, can help harness attention, and can promote balanced communication between the brain’s logical and creative sides. In short, practicing mindfulness can help a lot! Prolonged attention and focus are becoming rare in a society that digests information in increasingly short tidbits. The ability to deep dive into your project for a block of time is a skill that will serve your work well. (Now, if we can just find a block of uninterrupted time!)
But there’s one thing mindfulness won’t do…
Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., warns of some of the pitfalls of “Western Mindfulness”. As it turns out, focusing on self doesn’t increase feelings of happiness. Cultivating community and putting the focus on others can give you greater gains in overall happiness. One takeaway? Meditating on the part you play in your community, your responsibility to the ones you love, and all the ways you can bless the people in your life can be a more powerful way to practice modern mindfulness. This purpose overflows into our works-in-progress. Our work is for ourselves, but it’s also meant to be shared with others. Mindfulness is just another way to nurture those connections.
If you’re feeling unfocused and scattered in your creative pursuits, take a few moments to ground yourself in your work. Mindful moments can remind you of your intentions and goals, and can keep you from being swept away by overwhelm and doubt. Treat yourself to some quiet meditation, and tell me about your results!