Intuition and Creativity

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

I run this funky little workshop called "Intuitive Collaging" where participants create their own unique collage on a large art board. First, they wander around a room quickly selecting several magazines (of the art, nature, and travel variety) while I play a steady shamanic drumming beat. Then they sit down and immediately start ripping out images, words, colors, and textures that appeal to them while listening to soothing classical piano music. After they have a pile of these seemingly random images, they quickly cull the ones that speak to them, and apply them to the board without a worry about design or technique. I tell them not to think, just do it: select, flip pages, rip, cull, cut, paste. Just do it instinctively--there is no right or wrong way to do it. What is revealed to them on this finished board is a hidden story, dream, or interest that surprises them with its profundity. It never fails that people are incredibly surprised by what was inside them when they turned off their internal critic, stopped thinking, and just mindlessly created.

There are generally two ways people think about creativity: 1--That some people are lucky enough to be born with an ability to find solutions, create art, or perform, OR 2--That barring some special innate talent you, you must apply intense thought, diligence, and pushing through to the answer, product, or performance. There is some truth in both of these: some people seem to be physically, mentally, or emotionally hardwired to excel creatively--and certainly learning, practicing, and working hard will get you far. But, I maintain that the greatest path to fresh ideas, new projects, and authentic expressions, is by letting go. When we abandon our thoughts for a while and quietly listen to our intuition, all sorts of impulses--of the delicious kind--reveal themselves. We may be engaged in a pursuit--such as inventing, dancing, writing, or problem-solving, and when we STOP thinking about the creative pursuit at hand, the perfect connections, moves, words, and solutions will seem to magically work through us.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first defined being in this type of creative flow in his seminal book Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play (1975). Csikszentmihalyi found that this state is most likely to occur when the level of the challenge is perfectly matched to your skill level. He describes an "ecstatic state" or a feeling that artists and musicians have of being outside of what they were creating with their hands when describing flow. This flow can be attained when they have automaticity in their performance and aren't actually concentrating on what they are producing. Thus, their mind is free to rest and wander--into a sense of intuitive bliss.

You see, our brains work in two modes: we have a concentrated mode, when we're directly focused on a task or paying attention specifically to something. And we have a diffuse mode, when we're daydreaming, spacing out, or not thinking of anything in particular--letting our minds wander, so to speak. (Mindfulness and meditation are different states, and both are more about focusing attention rather than diffusing it.) Neuroscientists Mark Beeman and John Kounious actually mapped what happens in the brain during a moment of insight. They found that it required being relaxed and rested and in a "diffuse" state of mind. So there's good neurological science behind why we tend to get our best ideas in the shower, or after a workout, or just as we're waking up--but we can also accomplish this when we are mindlessly doing busy-work--like flipping and ripping and cutting.

So, if someone were to walk by our room of 10 people pasting images to a board, they would think we were crafting, or designing, or showing off some technique--with great intention--but, what we are doing is allowing those hidden ecstatic and wonderful ideas to bubble up and be seen. This is a type of creating that we can all enjoy together with no judgment and no worries--only bliss! You are warmly welcomed to join us at our next Intuitive Collaging workshop! Click here to register/learn more.

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Rockford, MI 49341

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