Creativity is for Mystics

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abstract_color_wheelTo be creative is to participate in a miracle. When you bring something out of nothing, you have accessed your greatest power. Yet, it is unfortunate that we still think of creativity as a hobby, an activity to do to alleviate boredom. The truth is that creativity is not for the hobbyist; it’s for the mystic.

You see, if you want to be creative, if you want to bring something new into being, you must unite human and divine. With one hand in nothingness and the other in everything, stand on the edge of nonexistence and existence. Open yourself to masculine and feminine, nothing and everything, emptiness and fullness.

Yet, even if you open yourself to the cosmos, creativity doesn’t just pour out of you like a fountain from its fountainhead. There are some important first steps. To prepare a path for a great river to flow, you must clear the way. In other words, get empty. Let the mind lay down its burdens: fears, worries, repetitive thoughts and complaints. Release the mind of its weight by first giving expression to what lies on the surface.

Writing is a great way to get empty. First, write out your surface thoughts. Simply write out the thoughts that have stayed with you the last few days, and in a sense, let them go by writing them out. Next, there may be some deeper emotions or thoughts that have been driving your mental state. You may want to get these down in order to clear your mind and create mental clarity. Once you feel like you have done what artist and writer Julia Cameron calls the brain drain, step into the present moment. Feel and listen for all the sounds, scents, and sensations that are coming into and out of existence as you write. This practice alone — writing what is happening in the present moment — can free the mind of mental chatter and bring awareness to a more expansive state of consciousness.

Now that you’ve created space in your mind and you are receptive to the creative flow, welcome everything that is happening within and around you as part of the ceaseless motion of life. Allow everything to be exactly as it is. As you continue to write, give your inner world nonjudgmental expression by simply writing out what is happening, moment by moment. If an angry thought arises, release it by jotting it down. If feelings of shame appear, let it come through you by writing it out. Allow all of life to pass through you regardless of what your mind may think is right or wrong. Creating this nonjudgmental attitude about what surfaces inside creates inner freedom and allows more and more of the universe to flow through. Now you are becoming a vessel, a channel for the cosmos.

If you are indeed a mystic and you would like to take this further, there’s a particular way I would like for you to engage in creativity. It requires refocusing attention to the inner world versus the outer world. It involves softening the ego to hear what the unknown might be saying.

Let me give you an example. This is what the famous cinematographer, Ingmar Bergman, had to say about the process of creating his films: “It is a mental state, abounding in fertile associations and images. Most of all, it is a brightly colored thread sticking out of the dark sack of the unconscious. If I begin to wind up this thread, and do it carefully, a complete film will emerge.”

Once you are empty, once you can allow all to pass through you, develop a relationship with the unknown, like Bergman describes above, and stay with the brightly colored thread. As you continue to do so, creativity becomes a spiritual practice. You are standing in that auspicious place of unconscious and conscious, known and unknown, nothing and everything. Just as in life, when a thing — whether it is a cloud, a wave, a breath, a thought, a feeling, or a sensation in the body — comes into existence, it moves from a place of nothing to something. It moves from emptiness to fullness. This movement from nothing to something, from formlessness to form, from emptiness to fullness, is ceaseless. This motion, this energy, is always taking place, and to participate in this movement consciously can be a spiritual practice of deep implication.

Sure, creativity can be a mere hobby, but when practiced with depth and seen for its significance, creativity can be a spiritual path for mystics around the world.

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Adriana Attento
Adriana Attento, M.A., is an advocate for developing a spiritual practice of creativity. She has a Master’s degree in Depth Psychology and is the author of A Holy Nothingness: Writing Towards God.

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