Creativity and reaching the elusive state called ‘flow’

The state known as ‘flow’ cannot be reached through a process, or in other words, through a step by step of do this, then do that,.. it has to be come upon in the present, found anew fresh everyday. Stories can be used in a powerful way to to dvelve into the self and I found the audio books by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés very unusual and innovative in this regard. The first time I read her book was, I think, two years back and the very first story was like a shock to the system. Dr Estés says that fairy tales have been cleaned up and they originally did not have the happy endings that they now have. The characters in the stories were symbolic and represented archetypes, the various themes in the stories have universal meaning. You come upon the different states within yourself and the state of your relationships with the people you are with or in contact with. And one is no longer living on the surface, not knowing why certain things are happening or why certain things are just stuck or so rooted within that one never seems to be able to get away from some modes of thinking and being. Just the understanding of what is happening within oneself helps us to find ways to circumvent obstacles and come upon those fallow lands inside so as to tend to them and cultivate them and so to reap a rich harvest and so as to sow seeds again and earn dividends hopefully in a continuous prcoess. Because creativity is not something that can be  switched on and off like a light switch but rather something that happens in cycles and it’s darned exciting to discover these processes and cycles within oneself!

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Planning vs spontaneity in creative ventures

For me, planning creative tasks is extremely difficult; I mean, the planning itself is fun and easy but getting down to actually do them when the time comes for it… ahh!.. that’s another matter altogether. I have  a couple of calendars and planners as proof of a lousy follow-through. When I have, written down, in my planner, one kind of task (like designing or anatomy) I am usually in the mood to do another kind of task (like color studies for e.g.) This has been a problem for me for quite a long time because I like to plan in advance and have a regular routine and know beforehand what I am going to be doing so that I can have ideas with a particular object in view and not have random sparks bouncing off in my head which I might not even get down to doing something about in the near future. I have spent some time learning the ‘GTD’ system, its a time-management system developed by David Allen and it was quite an interesting time for me, its an excellent system and I would recommend to anyone the book authored by him. I have written ‘looong’ lists and lists on what I wanted to accomplish for myself art-wise and I have a boiled-down version of it (not yet complete) at the back of my planner to refer to when I am planning:

Finally, after looking at loads and loads of utube videos on planners and organisers and thoroughly enjoying myself in the process, I stumbled upon “Vegan Organiser” ‘s take on the Hobonichi Cousin and the way she uses it which got me hooked on it and I will forever be grateful to her for it (she is a professor and a planner-addict and I love her videos):

Now with the Hobonichi Cousin, I have gotten a lot more organized and because of the various layouts it has, I have room to write down everything that comes into my head and it’s such a relief. (though it still doesn’t have space for everything I need to write down and I also use another sketchbook for project planning) The thing that sets it apart from other planners is that it has all four types of spreads, the daily, though weekly, monthly and 6 months on 2 pages spread which makes it so much more useful to plan for every area of your life in one book.

The appointments and schedules that occur or re-occur at a fixed time are fairly easy to plan, (like doctor’s appointments and kids activities) you just write them down at that specific time and date in the weekly or monthly pages and not forget to look at it every day or have it open on your desk, in front of you the whole day.  For the other, more creative kinds of tasks which can be done at any time; at present, I am in the process of writing them down after I do them (which as you know, is not planning but rather journaling), then later I look at the time of the day and week and the things I have to do before and after I do them and also check with my mood and I try to figure out the times that I am most comfortable doing a certain thing. I try to be in a ‘meditative mood’ the whole day, I want to be enjoying the things I am doing and not just do something for the sake of doing it, so when I plan wrongly it just disrupts my whole flow and I have finally come to the conclusion that its not worth it. I only want to draw when I feel like drawing and I only want to paint when I feel like painting and not because I have planned for them.

The artwork here is of another ‘tree of life’ illustration inspired by an image which I don’t know whom to credit to; I am besotted by the ‘tree of life’ and the mythology that surrounds it, it conjures up so many levels of meaning in so many different parts of the self that I just like to ‘muse and daydream’ over it:

I have been re-reading Mother’s Agenda (its a 4000 page transscripted document of tape-recorded conversations between Mirra Alfassa and her disciple, Satprem ) , things I find interesting and feel that I would want to refer back to, I sometimes jot them down in the daily pages, I am showing a page here about what animals and numbers represent spiritually. Also I’m including a small paragraph from it at the end of the blog post that I read 2 days back, it might be interesting to a few souls out there. About the artwork, bamboo formations are at the top of my list of favorites to paint. I have to check myself so that I don’t doodle the same on every page.

I have a few other things to write about but this is getting to be a rather long (I hope, interesting) blog post and I think I will sign off for now. I have another color sketchbook that I want to show you, I have cut out color samples from magazines in place of the chips in the Munsell charts and its quite inspiring for me just to flip through it. I am not at my home right now and don’t have all my sketchbooks with me, so I will blog about it in a week’s time after I fly back to Germany.

 

Quote from the Agenda:

And I know what he means: to deny entry to regimenting, organizing,

prescriptive, judgmental thought – he wants none of all that. What he calls being simple is a joyous spontaneity; in action, in expression, in movement, in life – be simple, be simple, be simple. A joyous spontaneity. To rediscover in evolution that condition he calls divine, which was a spontaneous and happy condition. He wants us to rediscover that. And for days now he has been here telling me (and the same goes for your work): Be simple, be simple, be simple.

And in his simplicity was a luminous joy. A joyous spontaneity.

What’s terrible is this organizing mind. It’s terrible! It has us so convinced that we can’t do without it that it’s very difficult to resist. Indeed, it has convinced all humanity. The whole so-called elite of humanity has been convinced that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without this mental organizing power. But Sri Aurobindo wants us to have the same simple joy as a blossoming rose: Be simple, be simple, be simple. And when I hear it or see it, it’s like a rivulet of golden light, like a fragrant garden – all, all, all is open.

Be simple.

So you see, mon petit …

From <http://www.mirrabliss.com/uploads/1/7/7/9/17790039/agenda.pdf>

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