The life of an artist and creative can easily become overwrought and inhibited by worry and anxiety that if left unattended, can eventually block the flow of creative insight and inspiration. An unconditioned creativity—an automatic, natural state of creativity that thrives and perseveres through difficulty—can shield against the destructive effects of anxiety towards continued productivity. A life of unconditioned creativity can be cultivated through the following practices:
Self-care: In addition to a healthful diet and regular exercise—adequate rest is crucial in supporting and maintaining the physical and mental infrastructure that houses creative thought. Author, entrepreneur and thought-leader, Arianna Huffington has provided extensive guidance for entrepreneurs and creatives on the benefits and importance of rest and self-care towards preventing burnout through her health and wellness platform Thrive Global. Through proper rest and preventive care, creativity can remain immunized and unblocked.
Improvisation Mindset: While artistic vision and integrity are key to impactful creativity, an artist’s ability to navigate and adapt to changes within the culture, marketplace and their respective genre allows for continued growth and evolution. The power of improvisation, a key tenet of jazz, has been exemplified throughout the career arcs of several jazz innovators such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock in their ability to embrace creative evolution throughout their careers.
Unplugging: Through the practice of meditation, creatives can unplug from the external and internal sources of anxiety through silence or prayer. Meditation is an effective mindfulness tool that can help in restructuring individual thoughtlife with thoughts and visuals that strengthen and empower the spirit, as featured in last month’s pilot episode of Culture Therapy with Claudia Alexander.
Relationships: Friends, family and/or peers can sharpen the lens of perception of an artist’s ideal self--providing constructive insight and encouragement in times of overload and chaos. A trusted confidant can verbally mirror an artist’s individual strengths and restore optimism through gentle prompting towards a true perspective of real or perceived fears—navigating them back to the playing field without undercutting or minimizing individual concerns. In occasions where artists find themselves traveling the path of creativity solo, autobiographies of fellow artists and creative masters can serve as emotional support in learning how to persevere through the eyes of those who have already mastered similar shortcomings or obstacles.
Faith: The protective properties of faith go a long way in shielding the heart against anxiety and worry—providing an artist with the added ability to digest rejection and navigate roadblocks, as witnessed in scripture through Christ’s encounter with the Canaanite woman who pursued him for the healing of her daughter. Despite the cultural boundaries of the day between Jews and Gentiles, she persisted in her inquiry, despite Christ’s initial reply: “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel—It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” In response, the woman persevered, answering: “That’s true, sir—but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from the master’s table.”--which simultaneously won Christ's favor and the healing of her daughter. A life of unconditioned creativity is ultimately fostered through an identical level of Teflon faith that deflects rejection and perceived insult. Ultimately, faith has the power to disarm an artist’s ability to mentally, spiritually or physically self-harm in the face of rejection--and subsequent anger or depression.
Through the practice of self-care of the body, mind and spirit, artists and creatives can achieve a state of unconditioned creativity that supports an uninterrupted and fruitful creative flow and productivity.