Finding creative gold in stillness

Those of you who know me will know that I tend to be busy, I pride myself on getting things done, being productive and hitting those deadlines, with excellence. I am an excellent compiler of the “To Do” list. However, having spent some time out of the rat race, I have learnt from being still.

I have discovered that stillness is vital to my productivity and creativity.

I have concluded that for much of my career I have been a busy fool. I have just acted without stepping back and saying: How can I make this better? How can I make this more meaningful for myself and others? How can I make this more creative and a better experience for all involved?

I have also regularly stated that I am not creative. I have spent the last 40 years of my life relatively content believing I was one of life’s doers, and that was ok, someone has to be but always slightly envious of those who have the flair of creativity. Moreover, I am sure I am not alone.

It is of course nonsense – I am in fact very creative, I now bubble over with ideas of all sorts, all of the time, to the point where it can be exhausting being around me and my endless enthusiasm for new concepts. So how did this change happen?

I have meditated for years – it is something I have benefited from greatly, and I have done it pretty consistently (notice the word I used – done). It has helped me manage my stress levels, my emotions and has given me energy when I have needed it. It is a tool that I often tell others to adopt, and it is even something I am teaching my kids. However, it is always something I have done, calendarised and set an alarm for. Meditation has always been “an action”. The more esoteric of you will be now rolling your eyes and thinking “she’s been doing it wrong all these years!” There will be others going “Yep, that’s how I do it…so?”

Lately, I have had the time to stop meditating. I now do nothing. “Huh?” I hear some of you say. 

Instead of actively watching and counting my breath, or repeating a mantra or listening to a guided podcast, I now just sit down and do nothing. No alarm, no scheduled event in my calendar, just me and quiet. Sometimes this can be sitting on the sofa, other times a park bench, the train or even walking to the office – just anywhere I can be still. I let the thoughts come, I don’t try and turn off my mind but somehow it settles, and the endless thoughts give way to stillness and space. I suppose I just settle into the moment.

And then the floodgate opens. Ideas come rushing in, confidence to follow through on some of these appears and, for me, the awareness of what has been holding me back has a spotlight on it. This space allows me to create ways I can be better, how I can deliver more meaning for others and how I want to be. It has made me a better mother, partner and leader.

So I challenge you at some point today, or for the rest of this week, (or maybe for forever) just find a time to stop; stare at the clouds passing by or the leaves moving in the breeze. Stop doing and just sit, don’t do anything and let me know what happens.