School of Modern Psychology Issue 6, March 2015 AU $7.95
Inside this issue: Creative Mindfulness Courses Articles & More
CREATIVE CONTENTS Page 3 Overthinker or Procrastinator? Page 5 Article continued Page 7
The Art of Creativity
Page 9 Finding Purpose Page 11
Calming the Inner Critic
Man as Microcosm of the Universe
The Mindfulness of Wabi Sabi
Making Art is to Author our own Lives
Page 19 Join Us Page 21
Become a Creative Minds Member
MINDFULNESS EDITORIAL Welcome to our sixth edition of Creative Mindfulness. This month we celebrate ‘over thinkers’, those people who take an idea and spin it out into as many possibilites as their creative minds will allow. What I enjoy about these types of ‘thinkers’ is not that they are stilted by all their thinking, but that they use this way of managing their mind to bring more and more opportunities to them. It’s with a clear vision, the insight of possibility and the sense of purpose that they take the mundane and lift it higher than those around them thought possible. As you settle in to read this month’s magazine, take a moment to consider how you could expand your possibilities and dream a little larger this month. Barbara Grace Director, School of Modern Psychology firstname.lastname@example.org
Are You An Overthinker tha Procrastinator that’s not sure It’s a tight balancing act that keeps thinking and performance in place. Over-think a situation and you can end up chasing your tail, weighing up all the options, choices and consequences only to then analyse them on spread sheets, consult with anyone who’ll listen and create endless to-do lists that rarely ever get completed. It’s easy to think of this as procrastination, constantly unsure of the action to do first. So how can we apply some creative thinking to ensure that we get results? Let’s begin by understanding what’s going on before jumping to solutions. There’s a big difference between being obsessive in a non-constructive way and ‘getting things done’. Productive thinking
You think in complex (not complicated ways) – constantly drawing ideas from all areas of their life to link in new and unique ways.
Thinking that leads to procrastination You think in complicated ways and place ‘road blocks’ between the idea and the ‘doing’ of it.
Way Forward: Begin considering ‘road blocks’ as opportunities. Create a mind map that allows you to map out the possibilities that you may currently be seeing as blocks. You have high, but realistic expectations – while perfection would be good, you also understand that little will be achieved if constantly waiting for the last bauble to be polished.
You have high expectations – yet haven’t established a benchmark that will provide a standard for getting the work done ‘well’ without letting perfectionism lead to procrastination. Way Forward: Define your standards so that you can ‘finish’ a job without tinkering all the tiny details – in other words, learn when to ‘let go’.
at gets things done or a e where to begin? Productive thinking
You milk what you can from any situation and take each moment as it is, learning from it, reflecting on it – yet ultimately making the most out of it.
You’re patient to wait until all the pieces of information are in place before making a decision. You’ve researched, played out possible options and launched.
Thinking that leads to procrastination
You spend time complaining that you don’t have the time – to organise, to do, to think, to play, to talk – in fact you spend so much time reinforcing that you don’t have time that you end up ‘out of time’. Way Forward: Realise that every action is a choice. How you spend time is also a choice. It’s also a choice to complain. Begin choosing to use your time rather than talk about the lack of it by establishing a to-do list with time frames around each job on it. You spend time researching, analysing, collecting, discussing with often a narrow blinkered focus and as a result may miss the ‘bigger picture’.
Way Forward: Consider what the ‘purpose’ is behind your actions so that you are focusing on your outcome not the details. Your single focus means putting off When needed, you can move mountains by taking on whatever task is needed to be done to completing work until others have done their work, which means that the get the job finished. cycle goes on and on and on with an endless ‘waiting game’ contributing to your procrastination. It’s easier to blame someone else for the lack of action than step in and take responsibility yourself. Way Forward: Visualise what needs to be done, if waiting on others complete what needs to be done from your end – it can always be adjusted later when others do their part. This way it’s off your list and on theirs. www.schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au
CRE Productive thinking
Thinking that leads to procrastination
You’re open to change and embrace the ‘new’ as an opportunity. It usually leads to discovering ever-new ways of solving problems and being innovative
You resist change as it means incorporating new ideas and with your single focus can become overwhelmed with the idea of incorporating something unfamiliar into your practice. Way Forward: Each day vary at least one thing in your routine so that you begin being comfortable with being ‘uncomfortable’ – not everything works to clockwork, not everything is predictable – embrace the opportunities ‘unpredictability’ offers.
You’re socially aware, able to read people and act You’re often self-focused and find familiar conversations to feel safe. appropriately in a variety of situations. Way Forward: Keep your head up, watch other people, listen rather than talk, observe how people interact, discover how to be comfortable with different types of people in different situations. You live knowing that ‘failure’ is only a word – not a life-style choice or option. You seek new knowledge to help inform better decisions.
You live with regret, doubt and fear – and as a result live within a mindset of ‘if only’.
Way Forward: Every time you feel fear, doubt or regret – notice that you’re experiencing this, be aware of it and then ‘release’ the thought as if letting it float away from you. Free your mind to think of new opportunities that can come your way once your mind is open. You’re a classic over-achiever taking new skills to a whole new level because you’re engaged and willing to try new things – it’s what keeps you fresh and excited by life.
You like doing one thing well – aiming for a level of near unobtainable perfectionism. This limits your possibilities as it closes down choices due to your singular focus.
Way Forward: Perfectionism is a form of procrastination essentially because you fear that ‘it’s not good enough’ which is often a projection of ‘I’m not good enough’. Accept yourself and your work as doing the best possible and aim to be engaged yet trusting that you can and will do your best.
Productive thinking You’re a positive person. You see the possibilities in others, you hope for the best, you cheer on those that excel.
Thinking that leads to procrastination If you’re not doing it, you’re not sure how others are doing it and so look for doubt, minimise others’ achievements and dismiss things out of hand.
Way Forward: Find at least three people a day to genuinely complement on what they’re doing and/or how they’re doing it. Celebrate others’ achievements.
You’re organised, have high expectations of yourself and manage time well.
You may be disorganised in your home and at work – clutter could be filling your life and crowding your thoughts.
Way Forward: Begin with the items you touch the most eg your office desk, your kitchen or your cupboard and clear them – then only put back that which is necessary.
The Art of Creativ
When the creative spirit stirs, it animates a style of being: a lifetime filled with the desire to innovate, to explore new ways of doing things, to bring dreams of reality. D. Goleman and P. Kaufma, 1992 In their book, The Creative Spirit, Goleman and Kaufman say that our lives can be filled with creative moments as long as we’re flexible and open to new possibilities and are willing to push beyond routine. Research has shown that most of us are capable of tapping into our creative spirit – especially when we consider the broader meaning behind ‘creativity’. While it can mean coming up with a regular supply of good ideas, being of a creative mindset also brings about a heightened awareness of people and the world around us which leads to improved collaboration and communication with others. Some of us may even be intimidated by the word ‘creativity’ and only think of people such as Einstein or Da Vinci as worthy of wearing the ‘Creativity’ label. Ultimately this thinking limits the possibilities of embracing creativity as a way of thinking. Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist at Harvard, believes that each one of us has a special interest and it’s when we ‘tweak’ the edges of this by going beyond what’s routine and conventional that an inner spark of creativity is lit that gives enormous pleasure. It’s about ‘paying attention’ to the little things and in so doing trusting your instincts to see the unique differences available to anyone who takes time to ‘see’ using a mindful perspective. When we see with fresh eyes we engage an innate sense of curiosity and begin asking more questions and being more open to possibilities. It’s when we do this without fear of ‘asking the wrong question’ that we take more risks with our learning and begin observing in a more open way. Essentially it’s in the amount of ideas, attempts to try out something new and the willingness to ‘fail’ without ‘falling’ that the chance of good ideas arising improves. When this happens we have more opportunities to translate and transform creativity into something that’s practical or simply beautiful to view.
Without adding the essential ingredients of ‘fun and play’ though – we can easily become ‘bogged down’ and lose contact with the spontaneity of freshness and originality. Humour, relaxation and ‘letting go’ are like self-raising flour, eggs and milk to a perfect cake – they’re the ingredients that let our creativity rise to the surface and bubble forth new perspectives. Playfulness is a creative state that allows us to feel that we’re in the right state of mind, feeling a harmony between our thoughts and actions that can feel effortless. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ‘chick-sent-me-high), professor of psychology and education at the University of Chicago, calls this state ‘flow’ – when we’re at our peak in any activity. It’s a state where our skills perfectly match the demands of the moment so that all self-consciousness disappears. It’s when we feel doubt about our skills that anxiety is triggered; at the opposite end is boredom for those times are greater than the task at hand and requires little from us. It’s during these moments that time seems to stand still and hours pass effortlessly and usually without notice. This state is similar to when we are mindfully absorbed in our work or our creative pursuits. Our mind is focused and wayward thoughts to distract us are absent. We are more open to insights from the unconscious mind when we are not thinking of anything in particular. That is why daydreams are so useful in the quest for creativity. Anytime you can just daydream and relax is useful in the creative process: a shower, long drives, a quiet walk. Immersion and daydreaming can lead to illumination, when suddenly the answer comes as if from nowhere. This is the popular stage – the one that usually gets all the glory and attention, the moment that people sweat and long for, the feeling "This is it!" But the thought alone is still not a creative act. The final stage is translation, when you take your insight and transform it into action – then it becomes useful to you and others.
“Have you found your life purpose yet?”
MINDFULNESS The School’s Creative Mindfulness Coach program commenced on 1st February 2015. Below is a quick snapshot of thoughts we’ve received from a recent survey: 93% of our surveyed students rated the course as being delivered at a highly professional level that was maintaining motivation and engagement. 100% of our surveyed students said they would recommend the program to others, describing the richness of conversations they are now having with friends, family and peers. 92% of students enjoyed the creative activities and mindful reflection on the deeper symbolism embedded within them. “The activities are engaging, the presentation is highly polished yet personal and the quantity of material presented represents exceptional value for money.” (Student) “Definitely worth doing but be prepared for hard work, self discovery and challenges, plus a fresh exploration of your creativity. The tutors and the course members form a supportive community which gives feedback and encouragement. Definitely recommend the course.” (Student)
A new group of students will be commencing in 2nd Semester (July, 2015). To register your interest, contact Barbara Grace via email: email@example.com
Calming The Inner Critic “
We all have them. Sometimes their voice is loud and abusive, at others subtly critical of every move we make. At times their power seems to rule our lives unless we place it right back where it belongs – sitting quietly at the back of the bus unless it has something very important to say. For some of us, our inner critic has become our inner ‘nag’, that with a neverending whining voice claims: “You’re not good enough.” “You’ll never be good enough.” “Your’e not talented enough.” “You’re not smart enough.” “You need a degree to do that.” “You don’t know the right people, so give up now.” “You’re out of touch.” “Who would be interested in that?” “You’re stupid.” “Who do you think you are?” I could fill quite a few columns if I hadn’t sat my own inner critic down just then – she can (and does) get carried away at times – and while it can seem funny downgrading myself – the fact is that each time she gets another word in she reinforces any insecurities and doubts I may be harbouring.
CREATIVE Page 11
You may have an inner critic that you know as ‘negative self-talk’ or ‘the inner demon’ – whatever you call it, if it gains the power to override your ability to try new things, take calculated risks and step-up in any way then it’s time to take back control of your life. The first step is facing up to him or her and realising that this person is actually quite small. At times I quite enjoy placing that inner critic on my hand (metaphorically speaking) and as I stare at her, watching her shrink to this teensy-tiny thing that has the power of an ant without pincers I know she’s got the message to remain quiet. These days all it takes is a ‘look’ and I can get her to the ‘back of the bus’ quite quickly – yet it wasn’t always like that. She used to be quite a powerful vixen in my life. What happened to change this was having a quiet chat together. While I felt she was there to mock me, I knew that the mocking was her way of keeping me safe so that I didn’t fall too hard. Yet, I knew that I didn’t want to have such a poor relationship with someone who was causing me to sit down when I wanted to stand up and be counted. So I asked her – “What’s the purpose behind all this negativity?” And quite simply she bowed her head and said it was her way of protecting me. We hugged – as girlfriends often do when there’s been a misunderstanding. I thanked her for her care and suggested that if we were to move forward together, I needed her to back me up. Since then, we seem to get along quite well – although she is a determined little thing at times (can’t imagine where she gets that from – lol), and she regularly slips in a few selfmocking anecdotes – although not as often as she used to. So if you’re inner critic’s voice is loud and controlling, perhaps it’s time to sit down and have good chat together.
“In some sense ma of the universe; the is, is a clue to the u This quote is by physicist David Bohm. As I’m becoming older (and hopefully a little wiser), I now see the truth in this. I seem to learn lessons slowly – it took nearly twenty years to realise that I couldn’t escape ‘me’. That everywhere I went, every physical place I lived, each action I took was a footprint of me. A single strand of DNA that looped confusingly through everything I touched. Essentially, I took ‘me’ wherever I went. This may sound obvious that you take yourself wherever you go, yet, looking back I believed that if I searched long enough I’d find a ‘higher version’ of me – one that wasn’t insecure, one whose outer confidence matched an inner confidence that I didn’t have and one with a definite purpose in life. In so many ways it felt like a journey where the destination was elusive and the pathway buried beneath heavy undergrowth. It always felt tough-going trying to find the trees amongst the forest. That feeling of striving for something I couldn’t name took years to discover. Funnily enough, it was when I stopped looking that I found the richness and wholeness for which I’d been searching – even though I couldn’t have named it back then as such. Buried under years of doubt, rejection and perhaps a good dose of ‘self loathing’, I had little chance of discovering any transformation or in fact a ‘life worth living’ – the ‘purpose’ for my being seemed elusive.
an is a microcosm erefore what man universe.”
I needed to learn that transformation must happen within before it can be found externally. And that pathway means entering the forest and discovering your own way through it. It’s in taking this journey that each step leads to the next and that allies and mentors arrive as and when needed to support the ‘quest’ that you’ve begun. While I could have ‘mouthed’ the words and understood it all from a cognitive place, I needed to ‘feel’ and experience the meaning that from a universal perspective I am a fragment, and yet within that fragment lives a universe worth discovering.
CREATIVE The Mindfulness of Wabi Sabi In our culture, "simplicity" is often code for a life that's meticulously organised to boutique perfection. Yet in Japan, Wabi Sabi is an ancient aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism, particularly the tea ceremony, where a ritual of purity and simplicity with handmade and irregularly shaped bowls complete with uneven glaze and cracks are celebrated for their imperfection. This philosophy forms part of ‘Wabi Sabi’. And while words simplify the concept, it provides westerners with a way of understanding the difference between stylised simplicity and a way of life that embraces the beauty of that which is aged and imperfect. An interpretation of Wabi Sabi is: Wabi: is a way of life, a spiritual path, the inward, the subjective, a philosophical construct, spatial events. Sabi: is material objects, art and literature, the outward, the objective, an aesthetic ideal, temporal events as explained by Leonard Koren in Wabi Sabi for artists, designers, poets, philosophers. By embracing humble virtues it’s possible to discover the elegance of a soft spirit, the rustic appeal of old objects and the indelible beauty that appears through age and wear.
Discovering the patterns of beauty in a name (an activity from the Creative Mindfulness Practitioner and Coaching Course).
Making Our Ow When we know ourselves we gain insight into a universal truth that nothing stays the same, we – like everything around us – are shifting, expanding and evolving – either growing and flourishing or shrinking and dying. It’s in discovering self-knowledge that the mystery of our identity is revealed – and the exciting thing is that as soon as we begin ‘seeing’, something shifts again and we’re asked to dive down another ‘rabbit hole’ to continue the journey. Stories and myths have been part of our cultural heritage for thousands of years. They invite possibility and allow us a glimpse of what the future could be if we embraced our ‘hero’ within. It’s a chance to edit our own story, refocus the lens on choices that could be made and dream of what-if ’s. No one dreams of being insignificant or without purpose. Each one of us has an inner need to express our potential. While our immediate world may at times present boundaries, our inner world has the possibility of being rich and rewarding. All it takes is the courage to dream and to invite hope back into our lives. Each one of us has the opportunity to ‘author our own life’ if we choose to.
Art is to Author wn Lives As in art, there are no fixed formulas for success – no one path leads to a more fulfilling life than another. While our personal paths may at times feel littered with unyielding obstacles that seem untenable, in reality they are stepping stones to a more flexible attitude to seeing the possibilities that can at times feel just beyond reach. The choice to see our realities as being shaped by desire and driven by our thoughts can open new ways of observing what’s around us. It’s at these times that a different light offers a different view. For an artist, light is everything. It changes murky to bright, dark shadows to intricate detail, dull to vibrant. We choose the light we see through and discover either brilliance or lifelessness. And it’s in this light that our reality becomes a mirror of what’s within. We are reflections of our own consciousness. We feel, see and experience that which we conjur in our minds. The possibility to author a masterpiece is within our grasp. All that we need are the skills and tools to ‘see’ with more clarity and vivid detail of the possibilities surrounding us.
CREATIVE Are you waiting for your “real life” to begin? Receive your share of joy and begin living wholeheartedly with a Creative Mindfulness course through the School of Modern Psychology. • 2nd Semester intake for Practitioner and Coach Trainer programs begin in July 2015. If interested in finding out about our second intake this year please contact the School. • All our Creativity Programs are 100% online and selfpaced. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sometimes it’s about discovering ‘what’s inside the box’ - what you hold precious or what symbolism is leading you to take a bigger journey. The image above is an activity from the Creative Mindful Practitioner and Coach Training Course.
Creative Minds Membership If you’d like to remain connected with the School and receive great activities and reflections each week, including a monthly webinar – we offer a value-packed bundle where you can become a Member of our Creative Minds group and be part of our wonderful community. That way, you’ll never miss receiving a copy of this journal. Copy and paste the link below to check it out. http://bit.ly/1vSAZWb
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