“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” ~ Rumi
For most of my life, I’ve been frustrated by my lack of creativity.
And the worst part is that the harder I try, the less creative I become.
In my opinion, this is because creative is not something you can try to be. Rather, I’d argue it’s our natural state and the process is actually one of remembering.
I’m now in my third decade of schooling, wrapping up what is essentially my 22nd and final year of formal classes, and I’ve learned so much over those years from others (admittedly, this is generally a good thing when you’re a doctor-in-training), that I sometimes wonder if I actually have any ideas of my own.
I’ve spent my entire life developing my analytical mind—gaining factual knowledge—so much so that at a certain point I stopped being able to access what lies beneath my thoughts. I became so adept at learning and regurgitating the facts that the world designated to be “important,” I lost the ability to tap into the innate intelligence of my own soul.
Slowly, (and in the most unlikely of situations), I’m learning, through quiet and stillness, introspection and meditation, to reintegrate the acquired worldly knowledge with the inherent wisdom we are all born with that cannot be taught.
I’ve always wanted to enjoy writing and I’ve always failed miserably. I can’t remember a time I haven’t dreaded the task.
If I sit down to start, a topic never comes to mind and, even when the topic is given to me, I’m so much of a perfectionist that it takes me an hour to complete a single sentence. By that time I’ve become so impatient and frustrated that I’m mentally exhausted.
Only in the past couple of years, as my meditation practice has grown stronger (out of necessity to counterbalance the stress of medical school), have I been able to enjoy my writing.
I believe this is because I no longer sit down to write. It’s also because, even though I’m a night owl, I do my best creative work in the morning. When my brain’s not quite yet awake and my thoughts are still groggy, my innate intelligence is finally free to call the shots.
I remember staring at my computer screen for hours over the years, trying to forcefully string sentences together, only to eventually fall asleep, wake up, re-open my computer and have my fingers type out a clear coherent, inspired article seemingly without any active involvement of my brain.
It’s as if I’m a puppet on a string and there’s some invisible masterful puppeteer eager to channel their words through me now that I’ve learned to shut up long enough for him or her to be heard.
Ideas come to me only when I’ve silenced the mind enough so that there’s no longer active thinking to block them.
Everything I write comes from deep within, in moments of silence, never from my rational brain. Sometimes it’s when I’m driving, or in the shower, or lying awake in bed at night, or often and most powerfully, it’s when I’m meditating.
When I’m feeling uninspired, rather than sitting down and trying harder to will my pen to paper, I sit down to meditate or I take a yoga class. And I find that, not even five minutes in, the ideas are bubbling over, weaving themselves together into cohesive thoughts at warp speed.
The release is cathartic.
It’s as if I’ve suppressed the natural intelligence of my body for decades, building a damn around my intuition to hold it back, keeping space for what I assumed I’d find elsewhere and suddenly I’ve learned to poke a hole in that damn allowing inspiration to flow freely at a rapid and powerful pace.
I have to almost immediately brain-dump all these ideas onto paper (or more often the note pad/voice memos on my cell phone) or they’re lost, as my rational brain quickly resumes its place in the driver’s seat of my life.
Maybe one day I’ll find a way for the two to occupy that seat at the same time. Until then, I’ll keep dropping into stillness to let my intuition run wild.
What I’m learning is this: There is buried treasure at the core of each and every one of us.
The only question is: are we willing to release our grip on knowing? Are we willing to let our beloved thoughts part so that these buried jewels may surface?
It is silence that unmuffles the wisdom of our being. It is surrender that brings forth our creative potential.
Author: Jessica Johnson
Image: Author’s own, taken by Eva Fuze Photography.
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Sara Kärpänen