Sometimes a really weird thing happens. I find myself reading my own blog posts thinking, when the hell did I write that?
That shit is funny, I don’t remember writing that!?
When my VA (yea, I’ve got a virtual assistant… like a boss!! Like, an actual boss…) asked me yesterday if I had a content posting schedule I choked on my kelp noodles. Hell, if I manage to write a post 10 minutes before I post it, I’m winning. The sane thing to do would be to map out topics and then schedule them weeks in advance so I don’t panic each day and mash my keyboard in a big huffle. Kerfuffle? I don’t know.
The point is, I never know what I’m going to write about until I’m writing it.
It springs into my mind and I start typing as fast as fingers can type, often skipping whole words in my rush to translate it to text.
Almost every decent post I have ever written for Project Self (when I get into the ‘zone’) I’ve written after doing yoga, exercising, or meditating; when I’m calm and happy, certainly not stressed. And also often first thing in the morning when I wake up, or while in the shower, or just before falling asleep.
Which is lucky, because it forces me to do nice things for myself, even when I’m crazy busy.
My posts which are more laboured and badly written are ones I write when I’m busy; haven’t meditated; my mind is in overdrive; and I try to force a post. I type and type and the words just come out all clunky and ill fitting. I have the idea clearly in my head, but I can’t translate it in a congruous way unless my mind is in this creative ‘flow’ state.
Artists and writers often say this –
their best works come to them randomly, when they’re least expecting it, and it just seems obvious what to write or do or paint.
Believe it or not, these moments of insight come from moments when were STOP thinking – when we’re spontaneously being mindful without knowing it:
As we start to fall asleep we have those moments where we’re sort of awake, but our mind has drifted off while we’re still partially awake. I often have genius moments of insight around this time, so I keep a notebook by my bed to write these down. Sometimes they turn out to be utter crap, other times they’re useful. When I first wake up in the morning, I often notice I wake up feeling neutral, like I have a clean slate for the day, and then a few seconds later my mind wakes up and starts its ranty commentary on what’s wrong, who hasn’t text me back, etc. Sometimes I can have moments of insight when I first wake up too, just before my mind kicks in with the to do list.
Likewise when we’re exercising, our focus moves from our mind into our body.
Yoga’s purpose is to calm the fluctuations of the mind and get our focus out of our mind and into our body, and meditation is a practice of dropping thoughts and allowing ourselves to be awake and aware, but not caught up in the incessant stream of thoughts that we spend most of the day lost in.
These are all moments in which the mind spontaneously shuts up long enough for a deeper level of genius and creativity to jump through the cracks.
So to be a genius, to solve a complex problem, to design a work of art, to make a tricky decision, to write an awesome blog post, you have to STOP thinking!
If your mind is busy ranting on about all the many things minds rant on about, your creative genius will stay locked away somewhere in your brain.
When you learn to practice mindfulness and stop thinking for a few seconds at a time, you’ll be shocked at how many decisions and insights become crystal clear despite the many hours you’ve tried to spend using your mind to work it all out.
As far as I can tell, the more you think, the more confused you will become. Like a hamster on a wheel, you have to step off the spinning wheel of thoughts to find any kind of answer.
So the next time you have a decision to make or a creative (or otherwise) problem to solve, I suggest that rather than focussing on it intently with your mind, you instead do all the research required to have the information brewing in your brain, then leave it there to percolate.
Then, work on calming your mind through exercise, yoga, meditation, a walk on a beach, a hot shower.
Anything that gets you into your body and out of your mind will slow your thinking – and when your brain has solved the problem, you’ll find that it just comes naturally to you, at a time when you’re not trying to think about it.