Creativity’s Nectar, Part 4: The Merging of Action and Awareness

Creative, life-sustaining work brings a deep joy. It isn’t about will-power or relaxing or whim-following. It is about optimal experience and flow.  Every day for 8 days, I’m writing about the elements of flow. Yesterday I wrote about the Balance Between Challenges and Skills.

Slogging through the marshes of uninspired work, an idea hits.  Saint Teresa of Avila’s vision of a Medieval Spanish castle with many rooms led her to write the bestselling opus on inner spirituality, The Interior Castle.  At 16, Albert Einstein imagined chasing after a beam of light.  He later said the image played a memorable role in his development of special relativity.  Sometimes, the idea doesn’t hit, at all.  Charles Darwin‘s evolutionary idea arrived gradually, almost meek,  just a hunch, as he sat around aboard The Beagle, sketching birds.

The challenge is matched perfectly to the person and the subconscious pushes inspiration into thought.  Creativity scholar, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi says

All other concerns are temporarily shelved in the deep involvement with the activity.

However the idea arrives, the Creator acts, compelled, almost automatically. Physicist Freeman Dyson says

Somehow the writing takes charge…You don’t really think of what you are going to write.  You just scribble, the equations lead the way, and what you are doing is sort of architectural…So the original design is somehow accidental and you don’t know how it comes into your head…and that is when the hard work is done.

But really, this state of flow is not eternal. As Louis Pasteur said,

Chance favors the prepared mind.

Chance, inspiration or flow; it comes on when glia and neurons inside your head transmit the inspired combination of electrical impulses impeccably, like a light- bulb shining bright for perfect wattage.  Flow is addictive.  It is the nectar of Creation.


To read about the other elements of flow visit posts in the Creativity’s Nectar series individually:

  1. Introduction to Flow
  2. Clear Goals Every Step of the Way
  3. Balance Between Challenges and Skills
  4. Constant Feedback
  5. Merging of Action and
  6. Distractions are Excluded from Consciousness
  7. Forgetting Time, Self and Surroundings
  8. No Fear of Failure
  9. Creativity becomes Autotelic

Or browse the entire series: Creativity’s Nectar: Flow.

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One thought on “Creativity’s Nectar, Part 4: The Merging of Action and Awareness

  1. Pingback: Creativity’s Nectar, Part 5: Forgetting Self, Time and Surroundings « Creating Brains

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