Mindfulness and creativity often go hand in hand. Both processes involve being in tune with your feelings and sensations in the present moment; only with creativity do you apply them to a work of art. Practicing mindfulness can significantly improve the flow of the creative process, as it allows you to recalibrate your artistic efforts and shift them toward your unique purpose instead of being influenced by outside perspectives.
So how exactly does that work? How do you actively implement the practice of mindfulness into your creative process?
How Do You Define The Creative Process?
The word process may dupe people into believing it’s meant to be a course of linear action with clear steps as you develop your project. If you fancy yourself an artist, you know that creation is more like going in a spiral, and steps don’t always move forward, as much as you may want them to. However, Graham Wallas, author of the book The Art of Thoughts, designed a model where he outlined four distinct stages of creativity that apply to creating art and any field that requires creative thinking, such as science.
Since his initial model, many variations have been created, but today we’ll be focusing on six categorical stages and how mindfulness can play an impactful role in each of them.
The preparation stage is all about setting the stage for your creative pursuit. It’s the very beginning of a project where we research how to bring our vision to life, try out new techniques, and open our hearts and minds to receive inspiration from our surroundings. Mindfulness helps us reduce stress and take more time to make educated decisions about what truly makes us feel good. Take a closer look at mindfulness and its impact on mental health from BetterHelp.com here.
During the ideation stage, we begin churning out morsels of ideas based on all the information we gathered and the creative seeds we planted during the preparation stage. This stage is characterized by being the time where we let our minds roam free to see every possible path we can take with our ideas and focus on quantity over quality. The quality or refining of your ideas will come later.
Mindfulness in this stage allows us to accept all of these different ideas and approach them with curiosity, rather than ruling them out right off the bat because we’re preemptively assuming what the final product of a piece of art will be.
In the incubation stage, you have to think of your ideas encapsulated in an egg under a heat lamp, like a baby chick. You let them sit there for a while without touching them to let them grow organically. With mindfulness, we can accomplish this by detaching our thoughts from our creative project and focusing on the present to give our ideas a break they need to develop.
After a period of letting our idea sit, we likely encounter our sought-after “aha” moment where we achieve a breakthrough and naturally a clearer idea of what we want our final project to look like. Usually, this feels like an epiphany that comes out of nowhere, likely from daydreaming and letting thoughts enter our psyche without any judgment. Being in a state of daydreaming is quite similar to mindfulness meditation, where we let our mind wander, and the solutions for our problems emerge from our consciousness.
Sometimes things make more sense in our heads but then don’t work out quite as well as we imagined when we put them into practice. That’s what the verifications take is all about, and this time is all about evaluating whether your approach is logical or feasible. Mindfulness is a tool we can use to focus on one thing at a time without overwhelming ourselves with the pressure of a million different potentialities.
Finally, it’s time to implement your final idea as well as fine-tune it to have it turn out to be the picture of perfection you desired all along. Many perfectionist artists know that his stage can be the most tedious and emotionally taxing due to the urge to point out flaws in your final work continuously. But this is where the notion of a circular process comes in again, as well as mindfulness, and take this opportunity to accept that no work of art is ever going to be perfect. Today’s implementation stage can be back in the incubation stage tomorrow. Mindfulness is here to teach you that what will be will be, and that’s okay.