Your Brain on Creativity

Let me start by saying that I’m no neuroscientist. I am an artist and workshop facilitator. I have spent countless hours immersed in the creative process. Still, I am absolutely fascinated by the ways engaging the creative process seeps out to affect other areas of our lives. Specifically how painting-for-process–as a mindfulness practice–can bring integration and clarity into our day-to-day routines, relationships, jobs and lives.

What is unique about this practice–as compared to “art” in general–is that we are creating not for product or a desired outcome, but for the discovery itself and self-awareness it brings. And no matter how difficult it is to still our minds or quiet our inner critics, the place we often arrive at after a process painting session is an integrated state. A coherence of body, mind, emotions, thoughts, etc, that brings a peaceful clarity and sense of unity of self.
What are some of the qualities we develop from process painting that can benefit our lives?
  • An Open, Receptive Mind
    The practice of painting for process helps us soften our mental labels and develop a sense of curiosity toward life and whatever is unfolding before us. The Zen Buddhists refer to this as “beginner’s mind”–or having an attitude of openness, eagerness and a lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. We open ourselves to unlimited possibilities when we learn to let go of our judgements. This is an invaluable skill when it comes to thinking “outside the box” to solve problems in daily life.
  • Living “In the Zone”
    When we paint mindfully, we are painting with our whole being. This means surrendering to the process wholly and allowing it to move through us, rather than allowing our brains to command tasks of our hands and bodies. At the same time, when we are engaged in an activity wholeheartedly while immersed in a focused concentration, we set up the conditions to live “in the zone” or “flow”, as described by flow psychology. This is the timeless and blissful state of total efficiency and integration, and can be experienced in any area of our lives (whether we are painting, playing a sport, completing a task at work, doing the dishes, etc…)
  • Reduced Stress/Increased Joy
    These are natural by-products of the process when we discover that there are no mistakes, that we can trust our own process, and that we can accept ourselves and others just as we’ve shown up. An inner joy arises when we make the shift from black & white judgments to “full-spectrum” thinking, and when our inner creative child–unconditioned by our culture’s biases and limitations– can come out and play.
I invite you to give process painting a try if you are looking for ways to dissolve blocks, expand your awareness and create from the inside out. And you just might find that possibilities open in other, seemingly “non-related” areas of your life.
Live your creativity,
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