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How to develop your creative powers

First of all, in case there are any doubters out there, EVERYONE is creative. We may not have the creative genius of Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Steve Jobs, but we all have access to the same universal source of creativity. We are just creative in different ways, or choose to focus on one area of creativity, which aligns with our career or life interests. To say we are not creative would be to say that we are not human. Of course, some of us are more practiced at being creative than others.The problem is that to be truly creative requires us to do that which is counter intuitive for many of us, namely to switch off our ‘logical’ problem solving faculties, and just BE. In this state we can calm the mind and an inner environment conducive to creativity will naturally arise.

The process is working when you say ‘I wonder why I didn’t think of that earlier ‘. Simplicity is a characteristic of all the best ideas, although it may take time and effort to evolve a ‘bright spark ‘ of inspiration into a workable solution.

We can debate the source of the original all important insight but a spiritual perspective is that it emerges from  ‘the nowhere’, the emptiness, that is our shared consciousness. In this sense we can view creativity as a spiritual experience. Whatever you believe the important point is that this process works.

Clearing the mind in order to create the space for the creativity to spontaneously arise can be a challenge. However, it is a necessary step as in thinking mode we almost never have an original ‘thought’, just the same old conditioned patterns going round and round, even if applied to different circumstances.

So how do we create an inner world conducive to creativity ?

The following are some tips for creating the right frame of mind to expand your creative powers :

1. Calm the mind. This can be accomplished though various relaxation techniques, a change of environment, a walk in wilderness, or whatever else works for you to help you to ‘switch off’. Meditation or mindfulness practice are very beneficial in calming the mind and achieving a state of presence conducive to creativity.

It is said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and there is no doubt that the questions posed by challenging situations can trigger creative responses. However, knee jerk responses in a crisis will not necessarily tap your creative juices, hence the need for calm reflection.

2. Be open to the new and observe everything. Let go of your prejudices, be inquisitive, look differently at the ordinary. Have a child’s sense of wonder.

3. Be enthusiastic.  Challenge your reservations, doubts and excuses, and be contemptuous of limitations physical or otherwise.

4. Shun the ‘nay sayers’. The more original the idea the more people that will line up to tell you it can’t be done. More than that, those who look at things differently may not to be readily accepted. So develop a thick skin and keep the faith !

5. Know that ‘failure’ is part of the process – just take the learning from it and move on. Lose any fears of hitting dead ends or being seen to be ‘wrong’. Give yourself permission to make mistakes on the basis that you will extract lessons from the experience and be wiser as a result.

6. Start anywhere. Just Do – creativity is about doing not thinking. There is no ‘right’ place to start. Maybe do some research and see where it leads. It may seem daunting when you face a blank canvas, but once you get started things will begin to fall into place.

7. ‘Play’ with like-minded souls.  Creativity is enhanced if there are no rules and ideas are allowed to flow freely, even chaotically in a playful environment. It helps if you surround yourself with other creative types, ideally those who have different perspectives to yourself, as you will feed off each other. Some of the greatest breakthroughs in one discipline came from using ideas from another. A partnership or team model might work best for you.

What is called ‘common sense’ is the enemy of creativity. So be uninhibited, enjoy the creative process, don’t be too serious and have a sense of humor.

8. Be spacious. The creative process needs space. Don’t rush, allow space for the ideas to flow and develop.  Creativity can’t be rushed, the truly original will be born in it’s own good time.

9. Follow your intuition, and trust it to lead you in the right direction. There will be times when you may feel blocked, but this will pass. At such times try something different and see what happens.

10. Bring your ideas to life. The focus above is on the ‘ideas phase’ of the creative process, where there are few rules and more or less anything goes. But ideas need to be taken from the abstract to the real. Some discipline, structure and rigor is required at this phase of the creative process. You will discover your own unique style for refining your ideas – what works for you in creating what ‘works’. As Thomas Edison said ‘The value of an idea is in the using of it’.

If you find that you are shying away from being creative, remind yourself that creativity and life purpose are first cousins. You will only achieve your full potential if you nurture your creativity.

I will leave the last word to Walt Disney who said ‘Get an good idea and stay with it. Do it and work at it until its done right’. As in all things manifestation is the litmus test of success !

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