It’s never automatic to jump into our creative zone especially if one minute before we have been dealing with something extremely logical, rational, like planning or managing a project (whether this is personal or creative work related). You will have to switch from left to right side of your brain, from rational to creative side, in no time. It’s hard! Very hard! You’ll need a buffer zone to gently guide your brain to switch its creative mode on.
In this case some simple rituals can be very useful. Here below are a couple of practices that I personally use or I guide my students with before they start a painting session.
1. Reactivation of the Three Dantians
Standing or sitting, take deep breaths by pushing the air towards the lower Dantian (a point below the navel, right in the middle of your body) considered to be “like the root of the tree of life”. This is where the process of purifying the Essence and transforming it into Vitality begins.
Relax for a few minutes and feel your breath crossing this centre point, raising and lowering the lower abdomen (ideally do this for minimum 5 minutes).
Now move your attention to the heart, the middle Dantian. When you inhale you feel its heat growing and when you exhale, you push this heat all over your body. This is where Vitaly is refined into Spirit.
Repeat for a few minutes with your eyes closed, relax the muscles of your face, focus on your third eye. Let the breath relax your whole chest. In this phase you reactivate the Upper Dantian, where the Spirit is refined into Emptiness.
Keeping the rhythm of this breath, open your eyes and move. Walk, observe the world around you, enjoy the sensation passively without reactivating the rational mind, without hunting immediately for creative ideas.
After this little meditation, don’t return to your rational thinking straight away. If by chance an idea arrives, welcome it and take note of it somehow and somewhere. If nothing comes, it does not matter, as long as you enjoy the feeling of relaxation.
2. Blind Intuitive Ink Drawing
Another effective practice or ritual to do before starting your creative activity is the Blind Intuitive Ink Drawing. I find this extremely helpful when I feel stuck or when I feel that I have a powerful energy in me that hasn't found its way out yet. I also use this technique with some of my students to help them release their creative energy and to visualise the world or emotions they feel in their soul.
Let's see the steps. Prepare your material on your table or even on the floor if you prefer:
a pot with some ink
a pot with some water
a kitchen sponge or a brush
8/10 sheets of A3 paper or a bigger size
Arrange the sheets of paper one next to the other, either horizontally on a table, or on a wall.
In silence or with some music to help a meditative state close your eyes, tune into yourself. Breath deeply and slowly.
Keep your eyes closed and visualise a feeling, an image, a movement, a dance, an element of nature… Keep your deep breathing.
Open your eyes, take your brush or sponge, dip it into the pot with ink
Close your eyes or even better blindfold yourself.
Start drawing alternating a variation of movements: slow / fast – light / heavy – continuous / fragmented – moving the brush or sponge in different angles (flat or using the tip).
Open your eyes. Don't judge yourself and what you see.
Dip your brush or sponge into the pot with water in a way that the ink becomes very watery
Close your eyes
Draw again going in a different direction. If before you’ve gone from left to right on the row of sheets of paper, now you can go from right to left.
This kind of practice is also good for Intuitive Mark Making. In both cases, you can save and crop areas of your drawings that are visually appealing.
I always find these practices, or rituals, very powerful. They teach your brain to detach itself from rational thinking.
For example, you may already know that the constant repetition of certain gestures helps the mind to understand that it is time to sleep. The same happens for creativity. Find your own ritual before getting into your creative zone (such as these practices or other sacred moments you’ll choose for yourself) to train your mind that the time has come to let go, close the door of reasoning and open that of creative thinking.