Monday, October 08, 2012

React V. Create

In an article titled "Overcoming Writer's Block Without Willpower" in Writer's Digest, the November/December Issue yet to be online, Mike Bechtle posits that we can work with neuroscience to understand how to better negotiate Writer's Block. What he juxtaposes is the mind that creates (fresh ideas, openness, concentration) versus the mind that reacts (our source of willpower and distraction). Reacting mind is reiterated, exasperated, by our "modern world" - we "react" when we go to our phones to see if anyone called, ditto email, Facebook, etc. This reaction mind inhibits creativity. So far, so good. I agree, and really like the framing.

However, he goes on to state that removing technology will really help us to sink back into more time to think, more space in which creativity naturally happens. He points to it, but never actually goes that far: the source is there all the time, available, but we overlook it. However, he does not even address how to cultivate a connection, not just how to cut off distraction.

Meditation. Perception activities. We cannot simply assume that if we remove distraction - after all, plenty of writers had Writer's Block long before technology boomed - we can reaffirm our commitment to creativity. Once that mind is loyal to the habits of reaction, it takes training - not just removal of distraction - to re-connect it, us, to the true source(s) of creativity.

Lately I have been developing a course that may just turn out to be a title for a book: How to Get Something From Nothing. It sounds a bit awful - like I am prophesizing how to squeeze water out of a stone - a bit desperate. But let's face it, we usually are desperate - desperate enough to read every writing magazine there is (if a writer) or every Cosmo (if concerned about your appearance) or everyone's posts on Facebook (if disconnected from self and others) in hopes of finding one way, one cure for what ails us.

Desperate times, as is so often said, call for desperate measures. And drastic titles.

The secret is that we are always creating something from nothing. Even our reactions come not just from habit - "I am this kind of person so therefore I say this in response" but from a blank, wide open space of not-knowing, of open perception. You don't have to be a Buddhist to believe me - neuroscientists are proving it all over the place. 

From there we choose to react or to create or to stay wide open - a third choice the author didn't state. We don't have to try to make this happen, it's already happening, all the time. But we do need to cultivate a warm environment, and silent practices, practices that attune the mind to perception, direct experience practices without distraction are the tools we need for that open space to reveal itself as more available to us.

The article is in a writing magazine, not a meditation magazine. I give him many kudos for good, clear language and for calling out our reactions as more than just distractions. As is often the case, when someone does a good job of taking it half way, I can't resist taking it as far as I can. All the way to the end, all the way to where what I teach, what I live, has proved to support not just how I create, but how I survive and thrive.

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