So no one seemed to care much for my last post. Too new-agey? Unfortunately, this post is about meditation. So, sorry in advance.
Meditation: good for you or mere hippie-dippie spiritual mumbo-jumbo? Nine out of ten scientists say: meditate bitches, it’s good for you.
My key takeaway is: by paying attention to your thoughts without reacting to them, meditation enhances connectivity among brain regions. More, regular meditation increases your ability to snap out of mind-wandering, allowing your rambling to be more purposeful and controlled. Research does show that your typical mind-wandering often leads to unhappiness—we ruminate about the bad. But as an artist, I’d argue that mind-wandering is essential to creativity. To be able to four-wheel down the back-roads of your neural network, connecting ideas in new and original ways, that is the foundation of all creativity. More, to be able to pull back, before the mind loses itself yet further, is the foundation of creating art. So maybe ruminating does make us unhappy when it goes awry, and maybe that’s why we often stereotype artists as unhappy human beings, but I wouldn’t trade those neural connections for anything.
The question then is: how does a person let their mind wander, in a non-self-referential direction, without reacting to their thoughts? What works well for me is: Classical Music.
Which works well for a number of reasons, especially as opposed to popular music or even more “meditative-minded” music like ragas:
- It’s long enough to allow distinct periods of mind-wandering without interruptive endings.
- The complexity of the music keeps a large part of your unconscious occupied as your mind wanders, preventing you from bringing all of your attention to bear on your thoughts.
- Your emotional state will likely sync with the evocative mood of the music, preventing distinct emotional reactions to your thoughts.
- Features climaxes and enough attractive variety to draw your mind back to the music, ensuring you don’t lose yourself forever in aimless thoughts.
- And while some classical music is restive enough to relax the mind and body, facilitating mediation, this restiveness is not essential. Even some of the more wild classical music may still result in mind-wandering.
So, I encourage you to give it a try. I linked to Debussy’s Trois Nocturnes earlier because, not only is it an accessible classical music masterpiece, but the outer-movements have a restiveness especially conducive to meditation. I hope you do drift away with les nuages, airy and untethered, and in the stratosphere of your sur-conscious, discover true meditative freedom. And in so doing, creativity.
Wait, give me a moment, I think I’ve written a poem for this (to make this post worthwhile for you poetry-lovers out there.) A-ha!
my mind comes afloat
a child’s paper boat
idly drifting down the stream of
consciousness slows stills
pools in the silent dells of thought
a cloud forms faintly
grows ignorant, white ‘cross the vault
‘till sweet bliss rains down
soft, cool, sinking my craft to drown
my eyes aglaze
as vague and beautiful
as light sailing silent
through the dark cosmos.