Create Mental Space for Creativity

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.
—SHUNRYU SUZUKI, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

If you have a full glass of water, you can’t add anything. Pour some out, and you have room for more. Your mind is much the same. Making space allows the creative mind to add new ideas.

I know that you can justify your ‘‘busy-ness.’’ One of the great gifts of the human mind is to create reasons for why we do what we do. That’s a creative act, too. But being busy does not necessarily mean being creative or productive.

You probably feel guilty at the thought of taking time off, but guilt is just another form of fear to conquer. There are people who can easily take time for themselves, contemplate, or meditate without letting the ‘‘shoulds’’ creep in. I am not one of them. It takes a real commitment on my part to schedule alone time, but I make the time because I have learned the payoff is always beyond my expectations. I give myself full permission to change my mind and go back to my ‘‘schedule,’’ but I seldom do.

If you want to develop your creative thinking ability, schedule stop time. You need the space to grow. I’m not advising you to go off to an ashram, although some people may make that choice. Choose a style of stop time that fits your lifestyle. For me it’s daily meditation. For you it may mean twenty minutes of time alone one day a week. If your wife, husband, or significant other is supportive, you may be able to take a week for yourself every six months. When you put the brakes on, you are forced to confront yourself. Busy-ness is often an unconscious choice to avoid reflection.