BEING MORE CREATIVE
This resource emerges from a flurry of action research into human potential, intuiting, and creativity in the 1980s in Sydney, NSW. A group of 25 people with professional backgrounds or interests in human potential regularly gathered to explore the outer edges of potential and experience of sensory phenomena, and to playfully and artistically explore engaging the senses and awareness in novel ways towards increasing creativity and capacity. This resource supports the evolving of our individual and collective potentials for creativity and the use of these potentials for better worlds. This Resource also emerges from material presented to the Inventors Association of Australia.
Innovations tend to be obvious once some one or more folk come up with them. Till then the obvious remains elusive. I’m fascinated with folk who can notice something significant that no one else in human history has noticed. Just how do they do that?
Here we have an opportunity to explore being innovative about how we innovate; exploring some possibilities as we engage in creative processes. More specifically, exploring ways of going beyond how we are individually and collectively innovating; so the theme - Elusive Obvious; innovating the processes we use in innovating. ‘Elusive Obvious’ was a termed used by Moshé Feldenkrais in his book of the same name (1981). Feldenkrais was an innovator in movement as a process for holistic transforming.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Linked to this John Lennon said
Every child is an artist until he’s told he’s not an artist.
So becoming childlike and letting go the limits that other people have been putting on us. Seeing with wonder in our eyes. Returning to a state of innocence. Recalling times before our heads were filled with cotton wool and rags. So some of the experiences here may prepare your bodymind for entering creative ways of being in the world.
What we normally do typically generates the normal kinds of outcomes. Being creative entails going outside the normal in all kinds of ways
Suspending ways like:
o asking questions
o seeking answers
o explaining and
o using manipulative thinking - so we can know, so as to predict, so as to control.
Rather, exploring relational knowing to become better acquainted; an open-ended knowing that re-forms us, and trans-forms us.
Kennen - Following Pelz (1974), using the German concept ‘kennen’ - not a ‘provable’ manipulatable knowing (the German concept ‘wissen’), rather kennen implies a knowing to become better acquainted in deep prolonged relating – to become even more familiar – ‘to kennen’ is ‘denoting something personal (and inter-personal), subjective, unfinished and unfinishable, involving me and interesting me’. It involves embracing rather than grasping. It is relational knowing.
Stimmung - Pelz (1974) speaks of a particular mood in accessing intuition and creativity where appearance can reveal and deceive. In this, Pelz introduces another German word, ‘stimmung’ having, as one of its meanings, ‘a mood that attunes’. I sensed that I work best creatively when I enter this attuning mood. I also am exploring attuning moods and creativity tapping wisdom in group contexts (in both senses – that is exploring constituting stimmung and noticing its spontaneous emergence).
Suspending our Stock of Knowledge - Suspending our links to our communal stock of knowledge held in common with others that is helping set up our limits and binding us; also suspending the inherent limiting of our taken-for-granted sense of reality, and the idea that we inhabit a common social world, and share a common reality. Then becoming unbounded, surrendering to everything and waiting with the possibility of receiving
The Potency of Context - we are always in a Context. Contexts are changing from moment-to-moment. Contexts have implications; hence, recognising the very big difference in the nature of, and the task of perceiving the following:
o The shifts in Context
o The different things in the Context
o The salient in Context
o Distinguishing task and content
o Framing, Reframing, and Deframing Context
o Distinguishing the foreground and background in context, and switching these
o The non-obvious significant in the context
o The inter-connecting aspects in the Context
o The inter-relating aspects in the Context
o The inter-depending aspects in the Context
o The Elusive Obvious
o The simultaneous entanglement of all of the above
Emergence of Intuition: Make connections between different categories and contexts. Allowing aspects to emerge out of dynamic eclectic experiential processes rather than have endeavour being an intellectual exercise imposed on a context.
Serendipity - openness to life’s abundant possibilities. Connoisseurship and surrendering may contribute to serendipity - happy accidents and pleasant surprises.
Once we have a return to innocence we can become intensely involved with the world – savour its grandeur and minute details. We may become a connoisseur of life.
Connoisseurship - the ability to make fine-grained discriminations among complex subtle qualities, the art of appreciation; as a method - allowing the situation to speak for itself, that is, to allow for an emergent focus beyond divergence. This involves enriching perception; the sense and significance we make from all that is streaming through all our senses (Eisner, 1991). More on this in a moment.
o suspension of received notions (our stock of knowledge)
o total involvement
o immersion in contexts
o pertinence of everything
o risk of being hurt, and
In Surrendering one leaves oneself open to ‘catch’ (Wolff, 1976).
Catch meaning the creative idea, cognitive or existential result, the yield or harvest, sensing the salient in context, the implications, the new conceiving or new conceptualising.
It is typically extremely difficult to step outside of our own limits, our own conditioning. One time when this may be easier is when we surrender completely to something. In surrender as in love, differentiation between subject, act and object disappear. An example of the suspension of even essential categories among our received notions (Wholf, 1976, p. 20) from Tolstoy’s (1877) Anna Karenina:
Then for the first time, he clearly understood that he was not simply close to her, but that he could not tell where he ended and she began.
Mulling - Having ideas emerging from embodied experience, and then mulling on this experience, then theorein (pretheoretical theorising) and using outside-the-square mulling while suspending our stock of knowledge inferential processes – hunting for creative inferences.
Inferential Space - Surrender to space, place and locality as Inferential Space. Sensing for what may be inferred from the space. Refer previous reference to the Yeomans Farms
Enriching Perceiving - the sense we make of our senses.
Using ‘Connexity Perceiving’, that is, perceiving all of the:
o Inter-connecting aspects
o Inter-relating aspects
o Inter-depending aspects
o Inter-cooperating aspects
o Interweaving aspects
Also recognising that at times, all of these are happening simultaneously.
Copying Nature – sometimes called biomimicry; there is an astronomical number of aspects of nature that we can call upon for creative imagination; for example mirroring aspects of fungal mycelium spreading underground in evolving face-to-face social networking
Sustained Awareness of our shifts in awareness of our bodies moving may lead to states of hyper-kinaesthesia – profound pleasure in graceful movement.
Becoming Aware of the Nuances of our Senses and Sensing – All of our sense modes have many sub-modes or submodalities. Some examples in the visual mode:
o Colour or Shades of Grey
o 3D or 2D
o Foreground and Background
o Context Engagers (Subject), (those engaged in the context) and
o Engaging in the Unfolding Context (verb), and
o What is happening in context (object)
Then contemplated these three simultaneously.
Naming (nominalisation) may contribute to stuckness. Transforming nouns to verbs, especially in the present continuous tense (the verb form with ‘ing’ at the end) creating potential for accessing the dynamic, aiding recovery of the deleted, and the challenging of the distorted. ‘I am a failure at creativity. Notice the process: change the noun ‘failure’ to the verb form ‘failing’. And the noun ‘creativity’ to the verb ‘creating’. Hence, opening up the possibility of different and richer ways of representing their experience of themselves to themselves – Failing at what? With whom? How? When? Where? ‘What would you like to be creating?’ This places them into a reality where creating is possible. Then access the processes outlined in this resource booklet
Doing the Opposite – generating excellent ideas from doing the opposite to what is usually done – like keeping folding a tarp out rather than in and this way water, leaves and bits of soil drop off rather than being folded inside the tarp.
Diverging - as converging typically leads to the known and the predictable
Leaving spaces for open silence, or theme framed silence, for contemplating and mulling; giving our ‘other parts’ a challenge, sleeping on it and using our unconscious.
Accessing Unconscious Resources
To access unconscious competences, capacities and resources surrender to the unconscious and seek; and you may receive complete and fully formed responses, and if and when you do, write them down or act on them immediately as they may evaporate and be unrecoverable. It seems that all the aspects of the conscious mind are replicated in the unconscious mind - resources, capacities, experience, learning, knowing, understanding, memories, capacities, competence, resilience, behaviours, wisdom and other phenomena. Seems that our unconscious also has scope to be a connoisseur, to contemplate, ponder and reflect; it also seems to have endless storage space and a massive archive of goodness knows what order. The unconscious mind may well be like, in some respects, the proverbial fly on the wall – in a privileged relating and intimate observing and recording role of everything that happens both inside and outside of us. Seems the unconscious can engage as audience and as crowd to the myriad psychodynamic happenings within and between us, as well as having access to all sensory input from outside and in.
Giving our Unconscious Mind a Task in simple direct literal (taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or exaggeration) terms and wait for a response. It may take moments, or days, or months. After a while you will sense when your unconscious is ready to download – typically, in a very complete well-formed way. Be ready to act and/or write it all down immediately. So to repeat for emphasis, to access unconscious competences, capacities and resources surrender to the unconscious and seek; and you may receive complete and fully formed responses and if and when you do write them down or act on them immediately as they may evaporate and be unrecoverable.
Fostering a Contemplative Mode of knowing that has some resonance with connoisseurship. Following Pelz, contemplating as mode of knowing is: a kind of intellective-emotive compound of seeing-hearing-smelling-tasting-feeling. It is appreciative and savouring. It leaves things as and where they are. It neither proves nor disproves, though it may approve or disapprove. It is the psychic equivalent of eating, drinking, and breathing.
Contemplation does not wish to handle its subjects and need not therefore concentrate on looking for a handle. Contemplating involves embracing not grasping. It is engaging beloved by beloved. It is soft. It is not hard. It is not exclusively interested in categorizing them according to function and utility within a conceptual framework designed by and for sectional interests.
Having a Purposeful Break - Beveridge speaks about having a purposeful break in these terms: The most characteristic circumstance of a creative moments in intuition are periods of intense work on the problem accompanied by a desire for its solution, abandonment of the work with the attention on something else, then the appearance of the idea with dramatic suddenness and often a sense of certainty. It feels right. You learn to do a kinaesthetic check. For example, you get a specific gut feel.
Taking a Long Break - I did have clarity and sudden insights ‘out of the blue’ after taking a long break from intense writing or action research. I also found that not reading my writing for a number of weeks would allow me to see with ‘fresh eyes’. I could far more easily spot things like clumsy or unclear expression, unintended ambiguity, punctuation errors and the like when the material was less familiar.
Recalling Previous Creative Times and Places and Re-Accessing that Creative State. As you’re doing this the whole of you becomes more and more attuned to shifting states as appropriate to context. After a time you’ll learn to enter the creative state with inner silence and the superb creative flows through your fingers to the keyboard in complete inner silence.
Eliciting Creative States – Check out eliciting processes. A place to start may be the ways of Milton Erickson (refer Hanlon, 1987). Using these ways ecologically on self and others – for example:
Perhaps you may
come up with something really creative
relating to X.
Go through your life experience
come up with.
Defocusing - Allied to contemplating is a process Jeremy Narby calls defocusing. As a metaphor for defocusing, Narby speaks of those stereo pictures where the three dimensional image only appears suddenly with the relaxed defocused gaze.
Examples of defocusing approaches are daydreaming, nocturnal soliloquies, and, contemplating.
Having a specific
intention to become creative
sitting in a quiet comfortable place
with little external disturbance
perhaps one of our creative places or spaces
settling down in ways you know or discover
hold up your right thumb about 10 cm(4 inches) in front of your eyes
and softly gaze at your fingernail
for a time
eyelids tend to close
and as your eyelids close
how your eye muscles feel
as you slowly lower your right hand
as you become even more relaxed
and have your tongue settle in your lower jaw
and notice inner silence
and enjoy this state of creative potential
Spontaneous Sudden Creative Expression can occur unexpectedly at any time without intending it while speaking and throughout a writing endeavour. A key thing I have found with sudden creativeness and insights is to write them up immediately they occur as they have a tendency to disappear beyond recall as fast as they come. One or more creative words may even be embedded within a sentence. So, watch for this spontaneous utterance of gems in others. And if I draw it to the speaker’s attention, typically they have no recall of saying it. It was from spontaneous unconscious utterance. Often it is the sequencing of two or more words. Together these words may embody a profound insight. And in the company of others when one person expresses a profound statement the others tend to not notice it either. Typically, no one else present notices it. So, learning to spot creative wisdom whenever and wherever it appears.
Recognising the Creative - Often people do not recognise creativity and wisdom when they hear it or see it precisely because it is outside the square. It is beyond their capacity to comprehend. A typical response to non-comprehending something is to dismiss it as nonsense. So, recognising when we’re reaching the limits of our comprehending and surrendering to possibilities.
The above is a small glimpse of possibilities. Here’s a challenge. Have a go at exploring the above themes and suggestions in your own life. The above hints at differing modes of being in the world as an extraordinary innovator. You may find that synchronicity begins to go through the roof as you begin connecting more in the world and being open to possibilities.
Reading and re-reading this Resource and using the Contents page may be a memory jogger. .
All of the above processes lend themselves to being embodied – what’s termed embodied learning and embodied knowing; the form of knowing that emerges from immersing ourselves in action, experiencing this in our body, and being transformed by the result. Exploring these ways in groups with your peers is invaluable.
We may not be able to write about it or put it in words, though we can evolve and have the knack. Then we’ve got it. And others can say, how in heaven’s name did you come up with that?’
Beveridge, W. I. B. (1950). The Art of Scientific Investigation. London, Heinemann.
Eisner, E. W. (1991). The Enlightened Eye : Qualitative Inquiry and the Enhancement of Educational Practice. New York, N.Y, Toronto : Macmillan Pub. Co.
Feldenkrais, M., 1972. Awareness Through Movement - Health Exercises for Personal Growth. New York, New York : Penguin Books.
Feldenkrais, M., 1981. The Elusive Obvious. Internet PDF accessed Dec 2017. https://universalflowuniversity.com/Books/Books/importsed/The%20%20Obvious%20-%20Moshe%20Feldenkrais.pdf
Hanlon, W. D. (1987). Taproots: Underlying Principles of Milton Erickson's Therapy and Hypnosis. London, W.W. Norton & Co.
Narby, J. (1998). The Cosmic Serpent - DNA and the Origin of Knowledge. New York, Putnam - Penguin.
Pelz, W. (1974). The Scope of Understanding in Sociology : Towards a More Radical Reorientation in the Social and Humanistic Sciences. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Tolstoy, L., 1877, p 1046. Internet site accessed June 2017. http://www.planetpdf.com/planetpdf/pdfs/free_eb ooks/Anna_Karenina_NT.pdf
Wolff, K. H. (1976). Surrender and Catch - Experience and Inquiry Today. In Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science. R. S. Cohen and Wartofsky. Boston, D. Reidel Publishing.
‘Yeomans Property Under Threat From Developers’ (At 4:01 minutes)