An extract from Creativist Compendium
Conscious Creation is not about working relentlessly hard to meet goals. Though effort is needed, it’s not the conventional effort of striving, stress, or strain, and intentional rest is very much part of the process. This extract from Inspiration Medi- tation, introduces the concept of such intentional rest.
Creative rest is not time off from the creative process: it is the creative process.
Every productive writer and artist talks about how the best ideas, the ones with most depth, resonance and coherence, surface during downtime. “When I am… completely myself, entirely alone and of good cheer—say, traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night,” said the composer Wolfgang Mozart, “it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”
It’s the same for creativists, but so many of us are caught in lifestyles that don’t allow space and time to let go. While we know that rest is essential to body, mind, and spirit, the connec- tion between rest, the relaxation response, and our creative capacity has only recently been given research attention.
What Is Creative Rest?
Creative rest (ornaross.com/creative-rest/) is any form of downtime that allows us to loosen up and let go of con-mind’s confabulations for a while. It does not, necessarily, involve lying down or doing nothing.
A mindful walk is creative rest. As is a massage. A meditation session. Yoga nidhra. Deep relaxation. Any activity that rests our mind, that slows and dissolves our thoughts, that allows us to inhabit the open, empty space between the words.
All rest is good, but what is different about creative rest is that it dissolves the internal barriers that come between you and your own innate creative capacities, so that creative flow can… well… flow.
In the Go Creative! books, I offer my own mediation method that I’ve been using now for many years. I call it Inspiration Meditation. An inspiration meditation can be as short and simple as one conscious breath—less than a minute— all the way up to a full, on-the-cushion, 20-minute sitting session.
And, indeed, and beyond.
What distinguishes inspiration meditation from other relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation methods is its guiding intention.
In meditation we learn to hold the subtle dynamic of intention, without turning it into what the Buddhists call “a gaining idea”.”
Our intention during inspiration meditation to connect with, and foster, creative flow.
We rest, intentionally, because we know creative rest fosters insights and ideas, helps us deliver good outcomes and eases our minds but we don’t pursue any of this in a linear, goal- centered sort of way.
Do that, and the thought-free rest we need will evade us. We need to let go. Let go of the thoughts, let go of gaining ideas. Frame our intention, then let that go too.
Letting go is incremental, we can always shake out some more, loosen another notch, ease another degree, sink a little further into the moment, take a deeper breath or a deeper rest. One of the things that happens when you rest in this way is that you become more conscious of what you’re creating in your life and how that begins in your head. You start to notice your own self-talk and how often you give yourself a hard time.
Most of us spend far too much time berating ourselves, trying to change ourselves. Creative rest asks us to lay off, let go, and deeply welcome ourselves.
In such a moment of self-welcoming, a profound transformation takes place.
When you learn how to rest well and play well, alongside working well, outer movement in the direction of your intention spontaneously rises. You no longer have to push or force it; you just allow it to unfold.
It’s a magical experience. And one you can have over and again, once you’ve learned how.