The Next Buddha is Sangha

Dear Abhi-dhamma:

How does meditation enhance creativity?

Musing on the Muse


Dear   “Musing”

Thank-you so much for your question regarding   how meditation enhances creativity.  I offer some reflections for us to begin this exploration together.

First and perhaps most importantly, is an invitation to you in terms of finding an answer to your question, for you to listen and open to the wisdom of the muse within you.

I once heard, Marc Epstein, a renowned  New York psychiatrist and author, who often explores the relationship between meditation and psychotherapy in his work, express that in his view “meditation is a formless art of feeling my way into myself.”

In the same talk he commented that when asked what the most important lesson in his life was, the artist Picasso replied “learning to trust his impulses.”

This reflects the point that making space for whatever arises naturally in the flow of our experience is an important aspect of both meditation and the creative process.  In addition both meditation and the creative process seem to benefit from the development of some degree of focused attention (concentration.)

While listening deeply and letting go into the mystery, of what is naturally unfolding without judgment or attachment to the results, we can freely explore and express what is “asking” to be brought forth and “created” in this moment.  We can focus our intention on experiencing and enjoying the creative process itself rather than placing our attention on“identification with” or worry about the “finished product “of our endeavor.

We then have the opportunity to experience directly for ourselves, how opening to the creative process frees us from being identified with “someone” who is the “creator” and instead allows the muse to come through us, bringing what is waiting to be created into the world.

When challenges of “doubt, fear, restlessness, or desire” arise for us we can include then in our creative process without being overwhelmed, knowing they are not who or what we are. In terms of expressing our creativity freely this awareness can be a great ally.

Through meditation we also have the opportunity to become aware of the truth of impermanence.   We can see that there is a natural flow to experience and  this can free us to let go of  trying to “hold” or fix” our creativity  in ways that could limit the unfolding.  We can reflect upon the Tibetan Monks who create beautiful sand paintings and then once they are shared, and their beauty enjoyed and appreciated by others, “destroy them’ returning them to the great mystery and making space for new works of art and beauty to arise. Through this sharing they bring our awareness to the important meditative and spiritual lessons of impermanence and non-attachment.

Although there are probably many things that could be said about meditation and creativity and their relationship to each other, this exploration would not be complete without emphasizing the importance of love as an integral part of both spiritual practice and the creative process.  The aspects of open heartedness, tenderness, and real care, touch us deeply, and can thus open and inspire us to enjoy the gifts of creativity and make it a priority to help bring beauty into this world.

Ending with these reflections from the poet “Rumi “and many good wishes for your creative and meditative journey dear muse.

Today like every other day we wake up empty

And   frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

And begin reading. take down the dulcimer.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

With metta,

Lani Miller