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How to Cultivate Creativity

By:Sandra Paolini
The good, the true and the beautiful...

Creativity is generally thought of as self-expression; but if you unravel the process a bit, you'll find something much deeper and more profoundly transformational at its core. The true creative process is born of a deep inner yearning to be used in a way you, yourself, find resonant with the good, the true and the beautiful. It's often felt as a strong pull you simply cannot ignore... a compelling magnetism that draws you deeper toward the realization of your inborn potential. It's something we all long to experience because we instinctively know it makes us feel alive and connected to something greater than ourselves. Without it, the world seems mundane, ordinary and tedious. But what exactly is creativity and how can it be developed and cultivated?

  • The "aha" moment...
Quite simply, creativity can be described as a process that taps into our innate intelligence and comes back with something novel. We experience it mentally as shift in consciousness, moving us from a state of uncertainty into one of clarity. It's an "aha" moment that's both ephemeral and difficult to describe, but we know it when it happens. We also experience it physically; we're lighter, yet deeper. We feel a pulsating energy down to the cellular level; we have been moved, shaken, transformed. The physical results appear in the world as art, poetry, dance, music, design, elegant theories, scientific discovery or even a good meal. These worldly expressions have the power to extend far beyond the single creating individual; they reach out and touch us in a way that can shift our worldview, move us to tears, or just brighten our day.

  • Setting up the conditions...
One thing seems certain... you can't will creativity into existence, but you can set up the conditions for its manifestation. Historically, we can look to the example of Mozart, who reported that the Divine dictated his symphonies to him, in completed form. But Mozart's dad set the conditions when his son was a child... giving him lessons and providing him the leisure and opportunity to fulfill his vocation. Mozart, too, allowed himself to be used by divine inspiration, working tirelessly to communicate these revelations. The literature is also full of stories by prominent scientists (Einstein, Kekule and Archimedes, to name three) who report solutions appearing in dreams or from unrelated experiences that trigger full-blown clarity... after the hard work of focused intellectual effort. Current research indicates that diligent brainwork, followed by a period of relaxation allows problems to incubate into resolution. What happens during this incubation period is anybody's guess, but I suspect creativity is at "play" deep beneath the realms of conscious thought. Doing what? Well, magic...pure and simple.

It seems to me that the willingness to set the conditions AND do the work, combined with the desire for fulfillment, engenders the experience of deep inner yearning. This is not just ordinary wanting, but a deeply felt, full-body, cellular longing to manifest possibility. Perhaps it is this energy of yearning that resonates with the divine's desire for us to connect with our own potential. Interestingly, this is also a feeling that can easily be cultivated. Try it now... relax and sense deeply into your cellular structure. Feel every cell of your being, down to your atoms, pulsating with energy. See if you can tap into this quality of deep yearning... yearning for every part of you to be what it is meant to be. Feel even deeper, beyond physical structure to the pure underlying energy beneath it all. This is the pulsating frequency that has the ability to align with deeper universal forces. This is creative power in the raw.

  • Giving up the need to know...
But what seems to ignite the whole process is something almost unfathomable... it's the requirement that we give up our attachment to outcome. This is an unexpected twist... like a koan asking us to give up our desire to get that which we desire. Is this possible? Possible, yes; easy, no. We are being asked to let go of all our preconceived notions of how things should turn out, and in fact, we are asked to give up the need to know, altogether. Think about it... if you want something truly new, you need to be wide open to all possibilities, even the ones beyond which thought can think. Essentially, this means getting out of your own way, setting the sails for inspiration and allowing the winds of grace carry you.

  • How therapy can help...
Therapy can be an important adjunct to this work by providing a supportive environment in which to slow down your ordinary pace and look closely at where, when and how creativity manifests in your life. For example:
  • What do you do unselfconsciously well?
  • What activity are you drawn to when you have free time?
  • What do you find yourself thinking about when you daydream?
  • As a child, what is the first thing you remember wanting to be?
  • Who are your heroes?
  • What obstacles and negative beliefs do you allow to stand in your way?
  • How do you talk yourself out of self-expression?
Creativity doesn't have to produce a global life-shattering results, it can be as simple as a meal well prepared. The important point is that you feel alive, connected, and engaged in a project you, yourself, find resonant and worthy. Engaging like this, on a regular basis, can develop and cultivate the creative life force that's already there waiting for expression.

Sandra Paolini is a psychotherapist in private practice in Antioch CA. She specializes in treating anxiety, panic, depression and anger and is the originator of "Changework Strageties", a methodology that reflects her ever-evolving understanding of consciousness, change and the human condition. Please visit her website and blog at for more information about this approach.


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