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5 types of rest every creative should adopt

28 May 2017

From TNW:

There’s a pervasive idea out there that life and creativity are a zero-sum game. Indulge one, destroy the other. Or, as designer Stefan Sagmeister once wrote in a mural of coins across a plaza in Amsterdam: “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.” But as anyone who has ever experienced it knows, there comes a point when obsession makes your work worse too. Burnout can be creatively lethal.

. . . .

“I waste a lot of time,” poet John Ashbery wrote. “That’s part of [the creative process]… The problem is you can’t really use this wasted time. You have to have it wasted.” Gertrude Stein agreed: “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing.”

. . . .

Stress is the enemy of creativity. Our best work often comes from a state of nonchalance, when our minds are calm. “Qualities such as focus, calmness, clarity, and insight are as important to your creative process as glamour and stimulation,” wrote Mark McGuinness in a post on the site 99U. But a calm mind doesn’t happen by accident. It’s something you have to practice. How? Meditation. Of all the forms of creative rest, meditation is the most immediately beneficial. And the benefits only increase the more you do it. There are plenty of sites that offer meditation techniques, but the basics are incredibly simple: put yourself in time-out for 10 minutes. Think about your breathing. Let thoughts pass through your mind but don’t acknowledge them. Soon they will stop coming at all, and you will feel your mind clear. Think of it like restarting a computer.

Link to the rest at TNW


6 Comments to “5 types of rest every creative should adopt”

  1. “Stress is the enemy of creativity.”

    So hurry up already – you’re on the clock and there’s a deadline coming up!

    Or go mow the yard, skim the pool (it’s getting warm enough to enjoy without shivering!), read/do something else as you wait for the flash of inspiration.

  2. “I love those little moments of calm before the storm.” > Gary Oldman as Norman Stansfield in The Professional

  3. 3-5 times a day, I go lie down in a dark room (and/or with eye mask) that is completely quiet (or on go the earplugs and industrial-strength hearing protection gear), horizontally, with not distractions at all. For half an hour plus 5 minutes to relax first (shorter if absolutely necessary).

    I’m giving my brain a break – I call it mental dialysis. It clears out all the junk.

    I have a yoga breathing pattern I use until the mind shuts up (sometimes almost instantly, occasionally for the whole half hour). I take a notebook in case something is so important I have to record it (infrequent).

    And I veg out.

    It always results in a rested body and clear mind.

    I do it for the CFS, but even if I got mysteriously well, I’d keep the process.

    It isn’t easy to make myself do that, because the tired brain makes bad decisions.

    It’s never failed to work.

    Also, nobody listens, tries it, and tells me it works for them. Most people are incapable of quieting their own mind, and have no intention of spending time learning to do ‘meditation.’ It takes a while to learn, and some persistence.

    It’s the only reason I can write.

  4. “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing.”

    I thought this an interesting contrast in culture with the pursuit of science, in which the opposite is true. Truly resting the brain in the way Alicia described is also essential.

  5. I swim. Cut off from most senses. Immersive. Primal even. It’s beautiful.

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