By Whitney Freya
Are you living “intentionally” or by “accident”? This is the question at the root of the self-help industry, the science of Quantum Physics, and the current Spiritual Movement. This trifecta of human development is all coming to the same conclusion, that our world is what we make it. It is this essential role of our creative minds, our ability to choose our thoughts AND our realities, that has led to a new emphasis on neuroscience and human potential, and to a rise in art making and painting as a pathway to self-realization. Your own personal creativity is the portal to your more intentional life.
In his book, Zen & the Art of Making a Living, Laurence G. Boldt quotes Nietzsche as saying, “Art is the proper task of life.” He is not talking about painting on canvas, but the opportunity each of us have to take responsibility for the role we play in creating our lives; in other words, living intentionally rather than by accident.
Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Voice of Knowledge, writes
“How do we live our life? This is our art, the art of living. With our power of creation, we express the force of life in everything we say, everything we feel, everything we do. But there are two kind of artists: the ones who create their story without awareness, and the ones who recover awareness and create their story with truth and with love.”
Ellen Langer, Harvard psychology professor and author of the classic book Mindfulness, discovered much of the same thing in her research. Her discovery of the natural relationship between mindfulness and creativity led her to the artist canvas and to writing the book On Becoming An Artist. Without any formal training, but with a passion for expanding her own mental potential, Langer now encourages others to pick up the paint brush and create an intentional life.
[box type=”success” ]When you learn to say, “I am creative,” it is like turning your canoe around to flow with the current, rather than fighting upstream with just your paddle. [/box]
In his book The Breakout Principle, Dr. Herbert Benson reports that his scientific research had proven that creative and meditative activity produce the same brainwaves. This mental state is what we need to create in order to experience what he calls a “breakout” experience. Whether the breakout is in the sports, business, or personal arena, the process is the same. The “left brain” skills and facts must be developed, but, then, one must diverge completely from the logical, left hemisphere to access what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”.
The first example in Dr. Benson’s book, tells the process a highly successful business consultant in New York. After doing all of his “left brain research,” the consultant goes back to his hotel room to needlepoint and wait for his “shazam” moment. The creative activity of needlepoint physiologically gets “Mr. Consultant” out of his left brain, connects him to his subconscious and intuition, and produces his own “stroke of insight.”
Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor has one of the most popular TED Talks, chronicling her own journey to a more intentional life. Bolte-Taylor tells us how she found “nirvana” in her right brain, as the stroke she suffered in 1996 basically took her left hemisphere “offline.” It took her 8 years to regain her mental balance. In doing so she became a “Life Artist,” choosing not to reclaim certain “baggage” and to pursue the arts, specifically stained glass, in her new more intentional life.
Dan Pink, bestselling author and professed “left brainer” was inspired to become more intentional about his mental patterns because of the evolution of the business world that he saw unfolding before him. In his bestseller, A Whole New Mind, Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, he writes that we are leaving the Information Age and entering the “Conceptual Age” where skills more closely associated with the right hemisphere would provide America with its competitive edge. His prescription? Among others, to carry a “design book” with you at all times to provide a platform for spontaneous ideas.
So to create your more intentional life, access and strengthen your right brain, creative mental “muscle” and find your own mode of creative expression. The less you identify with the term “artist” the more new neural pathways you will create within your brilliant brain! This is about creating the ART that is your life intentionally, authentically…YOUR way!
Photo at top of page by Mary Claire Crow.