For some reason I always think of good ideas and come up with insights at the most inopportune moments. For example ; I woke up in the middle of the night with a tune in my head. I realized I must have been dreaming it and woke up and all the notes were on the tip of my brain. I knew it wouldn’t last long so I grabbed my guitar and tried to play it right away. But, what I played didn’t come out quite right. As I struggled to find the right starting note and tempo I began to forget the swirling pattern of music that seemed like a symphony. As I struggled, the complex arrangement quickly degraded to a 3 chord romp that I could have easily come up with at a better time. As the last remnants of the mysterious dream music disappeared I gave up and went back to sleep. Why couldn’t this music from another plane have popped into my head while I was actually playing the guitar at a reasonable hour? How come when I sit down to actually write a song absolutely nothing comes to mind and I have to labor to put together a few notes?
Sometimes our minds work a little funny. Some tasks require massive concentration and focus but other tasks should be handled with an empty mind and almost a relaxed thought process.I will just say that it probably depends on you and what the task is that decides which is best. What I realized about the dream music that woke me up and inspired me to write a song in the middle of the night was that its creation came from a different mental state. I was asleep, obviously I wasn’t in a pragmatic or practical thinking mode. I guess in some way my brain was operating in free spin mode. It was just whirling away and pouring on the full creative juices. As I began to wake up my brain abruptly shifted gears and went into a less creative state. Since this is the default position for my brain I guess that’s why I am a fireman and not a rock star.
But wait. I am a fairly creative guy, or lets just say highly imaginative. I like writing my own songs because it actually relaxes my mind. It’s a way of using an abstract thought process,something I don’t get to do often as I am always thinking more in linear terms. My problem is that I just can’t write anything that is good enough. I’m not being down on myself here I’m being honest. But some of the basic musical arrangements I like to call original songs are fun to play. So as a hobby it works for me. I know for one thing, I never actually practice enough. Not like the pros. Some professional musicians practice 12 hours or more a day! Thinking in these lines I started to realize why practice makes perfect and what practice really does for the mind.
Besides the imprint of memory that practice achieves there is also the alteration of ones mental state. This altered mental state is actually the relaxed thought process and not the one where your focused with intense concentration. By practicing something over and over and over again it becomes second nature like breathing. No one thinks about breathing they just breath. In fact there was a study done on olympic sharp shooters that showed the test subjects in a very relaxed state when they were zeroing in on their target and taking the shot. Just think about that for a second. Their heart and breathing rates slow down as well as their brain activity. Even their facial muscles relax. This is during the peak of pressure to perform with everyone watching them yet they are as relaxed as when we watch a movie.
Practice developes our second nature thought process and these skills pop off with ease as the audience is amazed with the mastery at which the task was performed. Athletes call this being “in the zone”. In interviews after the “big” game athletes have said that they were not even thinking, just reacting or doing. When a musician performs on stage they are able to interact with the audience and look up and smile while they deftly play away hitting notes with precision.
We have all been there before in our own right. We know how it feels and what it’s like. So when you think of something that you want to do well consider the amount of practice that has to go into it in order to reach this meditative state. Of course some people may have a natural talent for doing things and they may not need a whole lot of practice but for the rest of us it’s the only way to go. Work hard at something, put in the extra hours and stay consistant. It may take months it may take years or it may take your whole lifetime but eventually you will be performing at the highest level. Those watching you will be amazed and wish they can possess such skill and think you are working very hard and all the while you will be thinking what you should have for dinner.
- Characteristics of Highly Creative People (creativitypost.com)
- 4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity (ted.com)