“Anything and everything can be a meditation if you do it mindfully.” Dale Morris
Recently, in one of the groups I follow on LinkedIn, someone started a thread about meditation. Now, I have always had a problem with the word “meditation”. It always brought to my mind visions of individuals in dirty loin cloths, sitting on a bed of nails.
However, after watching an interview with Mad Man’s Vincent Kartheiser, who reads his scripts in the bath, I realized that I may have been meditating for years. I just didn’t know it.
Vincent says he reads most of his scripts in the bath. “Because there’s no distractions, you know? No Internet or TV in there…” You can almost picture the scene. An old fashioned tile bathroom, with the porcelain claw foot tub filled to the top. And, on an old side table, a pile of scripts are waiting to be read and sorted. The steam slowly rises from the water and the only sound is the slow drip-drip of the tap, where the hot water knob has developed a slow leak.
I do some of my most creative thinking in the shower. It never fails: If I have the time for a long hot shower, I will end up jumping out to go and scribble in my sketchbook for page after damp page, usually while shivering and leaving wet foot prints on the hard wood floors.
Looking back now and browsing through the watermarked pages, I can tell you that many of the more successful ideas reside on the pages with the most water damage.
But, why is this?
According to our old friend Wikipedia, “Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit.” Which is pretty vague, if you ask me. Of course, the definition has to take into account all of the different practices of meditation, from the historic use in religion to the modern use in medical practices.
I did a little further digging to see if I could cut through all of the semantics that surround the “Mystical world of meditation”. I came up with a better definition: the quieting of the mind through the removal of outside distractions, to allow clarity of thought.
You see, in our jumbled, crazy, caffeine fueled world of social media, always on, always plugged in communication, we rarely have the time to actually think. Most of the time is spent reacting to the next bright, shiny, noisey ping that hits our peripheral vision. This may have been fine back in the day, when we needed it for basic survival and beating back the saber toothed wombat that lived in the tree over our hut. But, it is very difficult to create and do proactive problem solving in that kind of atmosphere.
So, what can we do to help our creativity? Meditate?
Perhaps. Perhaps, indeed.
Looking back to my long hot shower, it seems that I have been following my definition of meditation.
I have removed outside distractions. I have quieted my mind by doing a menial task that doesn’t require a lot of thought (did I wash behind my ears yet? Did I do between my toes?). And, that is when my mind begins to drift and the solution to whatever problem that was on my mind the night before suddenly appears. Or, a new project will develop between the soap and rinse cycle (Example: The God of Carnage Poster behind the scenes vid. Boston Teen Acting Troupe asked me to create the poster for their version of God of Carnage. The layout manifested itself during a particularly nice shower).
I still don’t like the word “meditate” and am suspicious of people hawking new age cures for the modern world. But, at the heart of the matter, under the hype, there might just be something there.
What do you think? Do you meditate without realizing that you are meditating? What do you do to spark your creativity? When is your mind the quietest, and, as a result, the most fertile?