My creative unconscious self

Since a while I’m observing how creativity kicks in during workshops, without me being fully conscious about it. Reading a book by Oliver Sacks on consciousness, I was surprised this is a topic of interest for scientists.  

To unleash creativity Sacks writes, it is important you’ve developed, practiced, trained a certain skill, by repeating, imitating, studying. But this is not enough.

At some point musicians, math scientists, writers, describe a process in which something is taking over, a solution to a difficult mathematical problem, or an idea for a book, presents itself to the creative self of the scientist or writer, as coming from “nowhere”, during a walk, in a dream, or just in the “flow” of the process. We are all familiar with the idea of having dreamed the perfect idea (and not remembering all the details when we wake up…).

In difficult workshops, where it seems discussions and ideas go in every possible direction, voices are rising, conflict is kicking in, I encounter a certain calmness that takes over. In the that calmness an idea for an exercise, an approach, a tool, just kicks in, as coming from nowhere.

I would not call it “unconscious”, for me it more related to the concept of “being fully present”, accepting what is in the moment, letting go of expectations and intentions (written down in running masters and scenario’s for workshops and strategy exercises…), leaving out all the pressure of the moment “we need to get somewhere!” or “we can not have a conflict right now”, and just allowing what wants to show itself, to show itself. This is where I live creativity the most, in creating a kind of peaceful space for myself as a facilitator, in which I can access ideas coming to me, as opportunities or solutions for the issue that is kicking in at the time. Ideas seem to organize themselves in a fast and coherent flow, clear and sharp and full of meaning. When it happens, it’s much faster than me writing this down now, or you are reading this.

Sacks is convinced that if detailed brains cans would exist, this kind of creativity would be visible.

Experiencing creativity in this way offers me trust, and the ability of guiding a group through a process, confident they will end up somewhere meaningful, although the path might be a completely different one, then what I or they had in mind.

Based on the O. Sacks, The River of Consciousness, 2017.

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