Stress VS Creativity
by Silvia Hartmann
I've recently noticed something interesting - namely a mathematical relationship between stress, and creativity.
Now when I use the term "creativity", I mean the kind of states of mind and body where thoughts and ideas flow freely; where there is a STREAM of data information that comes clearly from a very different place than one might normally inhabit and which translates smoothly and perfectly into colours, visions, sounds, patterns, movements, actions and resolutions.
These are very beautiful states, very precious; this flow of "creativity" is nourishing, enlivening and one can do so many things for a long time without feeling in the slightest bit tired; when it is done, one is happy, very much at peace and delighted, too.
It isn't all that easy to enter these states of flow; and there are different levels of intensity, different depths and different intensities, and there's a pathway INTO the really amazing deep states where the good stuff resides.
If this is interrupted (by a phone call, someone wanting something, the cat throwing up et al) one experiences a very similar sense of jarring unpleasantness, just like being shocked out of a trance or hypnotic induction by a rude interruption; this is very unpleasant and disorientating.
Further, to find one's pathway BACK to that place where one was interrupted is tricky, even if one generally knows quite well just how to step down and step away from the "ordinary" states of being.
Stress, fear and chaos in the environment simply PRECLUDES access to these creative levels, and as I mentioned above, this is a mathematically precise correlation between the amount of stress is present, and what states can be reached because of it.
For people who actually need these flow states for their work or their sanity this is good news.
What it means is first of all that creativity isn't "fickle" or "inexplicable" or "strikes randomly".
There is a direct state-PLACE of creativity, and actually within that, there are levels of creativity which correspond to just what kind of creative endeavour can be undertaken - for example, the place from which one can still successfully write a radio jingle is closer to "normal awareness" than a place for a good Country and Western song, and that is halfway to the place where one would start writing a symphony.
Creativity FAILS when there's too much stress.
Stress creates a fog of disturbance that traps consciousness inside of itself and the routes into the various creative flow states are simply lost; and where this becomes really troublesome is when the BACKGROUND stress is so high that creativity seems to have forsaken the person altogether.
Then we are in "writer's block" country.
The inability to access the creative flow states (which are healing and energising in and of themselves, and a countermeasure to stress wear outs!) now itself causes further worry and stress, and now the attempts at reaching the creative flow states is ever further disrupted.
Trying to force some form of behaviour against stress confusion results also in very "unsatisfactory results" - bad art, art that lacks that sparkle and conviction which comes ONLY from the integral flow states.
Disappointment, fear that "the muse has forsaken me", a previously beloved activity becoming a hard slog with miserable results ALL further increases stress - and all the time, creativity states become more and more unreachable.
And the moral of the tail?
If you ever had creative flow experiences and now you don't have them anymore, that's because people get consecutively more stressed in our societies, the older they become.
If you are an artist and you worried about your creative expression, or dissatisfied with it, get to work on your stress levels.
They go down, YOU get to go to creative city again.
It's quite simple, really, drug free and important to know for anyone who loves to touch the "creative flow".
© Silvia Hartmann 2004