“Once we can focus our mind in meditation, we can then skilfully think and move our attention creatively in that space without disturbing our concentration. This in turn leads to unusual and supra-normal levels of insight and creativity”
Dear Integral Meditators,
This weeks article looks at how to work creatively in meditation. As an artist myself (originally), its a subject central to my experience of meditation, and one that makes it almost infinitely enjoyable and regenerative!
If you enjoy it then do consider joining us for this weeks Tuesday & Wednesday evening meditations, where we shall be integrating a creative dimension to our meditation practice.
My monthly Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat on 25th February is now full, waiting list only. I have added an extra session on Sunday the 26th for those who may want to participate
In the spirit of our inner artist,
The fish swimming in the pond: Meditation & creative contemplation
Meditation & contemplation
Back when I began meditating in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, I was taught that meditation has two parts; contemplation and meditation. Initially you have to contemplate in order to ‘seek and find’ your object of meditation. Once you have found it you can them simply let your attention focus upon it and go deeper into it. For example:
- Before doing breathing meditation you have to seek and find the sensation of your breathing
- Before meditating on compassion, you have to assemble in your minds eye the objects of compassion (EG: other particular people) and find the feeling of compassion within yourself
- Before you can hold a visualization in meditation, you first have to build the different components of the visualization in a contemplation
Active & creative meditation – Moving your mind in a meditative state
Over time I have also increasingly used meditation as a point of departure for creative contemplation. Thinking in a meditative state I have found creates a very different experience of how things are.
To give an example, if I am anxious and stressed, often the way in which I think about my life will often be anxious and stressed. If I move into a state of meditation on say my beginners mind or compassion, and re-consider my life from there, the compassionate state of mind will create a very different view and experience from my stressed and anxious state.
From this we can start to understand how our meditative states are creative; they paint a picture of our life that is different from our everyday mind.
As well as painting a different picture in the way described above, our meditative states can often ‘plug us in’ to ideas and inspirations from a deeper level of our own consciousness, and a deeper level of the collective group consciousness. We find ourself tapping into levels of inner reality where there is an abundance of, often spontaneous creative ideas.
The fish in the pond: Skilful creative contemplation
Initially when we meditate it can feel difficult enough to just calm our mind to focus upon and hold an object of meditation. To move back into creative contemplation often results in us just becoming distracted again. But if we keep practising then we learn to contemplate creatively in meditation whilst at the same time not disturbing our inner stillness and focus.
Again speaking of my Tibetan Buddhist days, this was illustrated by the image of a small fish swimming beneath the surface of a pond without disturbing the surface. Similarly, once we can focus our mind in meditation, we can then skilfully think and move our attention creatively in that space without disturbing our concentration. This in turn leads to unusual and supra-normal levels of insight and creativity.
Now, this may sound like a long way from where you are currently, but one way to get better at this fast is simply to practice it regularly. A simple structure might look like this. In a fifteen-minute meditation:
- Spend five minutes calming your mind and finding your meditation object, for example the breathing or compassion
- The next five minutes focus on deepening your attention on your chosen object
- For the final five minutes bring to mind a domain of your life that you want to think creatively about. Staying relaxed and present within your meditative state, contemplate your chosen domain and see what ideas, perspectives and insights come to light
You might say this is a way of using meditation to capitalize on our natural creativity, and allowing it to flourish in the deeper, more free space of our focused awareness.
Related articles: Still water that moves – Meditation for greater creativity
Mindfulness for enhancing productivity & creativity in your work
On boredom, creativity & ‘mindful fishing’
© Toby Ouvry 2023, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:
Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)
Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (East Coast)
Ongoing – Introduction to Integral Meditation & Mindfulness Practice – An eight-week course
Saturday & Sunday February 26/27th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat
Tues 21st & Weds 22nd March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation
Sat & Sunday 1st, 2nd April – Two day integral meditation retreat