On Creativity.

The definition of creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.

The funny thing I’ve found about being creative is that, at its purest form, I don’t have to worry about what other people think. When I create simply as a means of expression, it is an intimate conversation with myself. I think that few people are fortunate to experience this as a way of making a living, such as fine artists.

Back in my psych undergrad, in my final year I took a fringe elective module, and it was called something like ‘Imagination in Science and the Mind’. Looking back, it was all about creativity, and psychologists pursuit in understanding the mental processes involved with creativity within the scientific field.

In attempting to understand how creative processes differ, psychologists classify creativity as p-creativity and h-creativity. Arguing that it is of more fundamental importance, P-creativity is with respect of the mind of the person concerned, even though others have come up with the idea before. H-creativity adds that no other person has had this idea before. I think, we have a tendency to inhibit creative mental processes by getting hung up on wanting to be original.

A psychologists definition of creativity further asserts that creativity is adaptive. Not only is the idea new, it must be workable and functional. They argue that creativity enables a person to adjust to novel circumstances so as to solve problems that unexpectedly arise. In thinking about whether this applies to fine artists, my mind casts to the large collection of dreamy works by historical painter William Turner. He is known for his powerful illustrations of the effects of the first industrial revolution on our landscape. To remain relevant, he adapted his paintings, depicting society itself adpating to huge technological changes.

There is a huge body of research on the subject of creativity, one only needs to glance at the length of its Wikipedia page. Here I draw on my thoughts based on my past learnings, which presents an incomplete view of the subject area.

Creativity engages in a thought process known as divergent thinking, the individual generates ideas and explores many possible solutions. It is described as spontaneous, free-flowing, and non-linear. Reference is made to the short time frame within which this should occur, in order for unexpected connections to be drawn. Following this, divergent thinking may be employed, to organise these ideas for the purpose of arriving at a single solution to be actioned.

I think it is necessary to have a balance of convergent and divergent thinking, in order to succeed in life. However, I am self-aware enough to realise that the balance is skewed towards divergent thinking for me. What this simply means is that it takes more mental effort for me to engage in the process of convergent thinking, whereas divergent thoughts come naturally to me.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on creativity this week, and I hope you learnt a thing or two as well.

LIVID-19: Acknowledging my Mental Health during the Coronavirus.

[I originally shared this with the online community at Reddit at r/CoronavirusUK because I was feeling lonely and had nobody I felt like I could to talk to about my feelings]

I’m having a hard time dealing with this.

I am confused because I am not an expert, I don’t know which source to trust, so I have obsessively sought out facts, as if it were my job.

I am drained because I have watched the situation unfold, week after week.

I am scared because all the cases that first came to this country landed on my doorstep.

I am frustrated because Europe does not seem to be following the same actions as Asia and I don’t know if it’s an intentional strategy or not.

I am stressed because I have seen it coming but have not been getting information, updates, and a public response I needed to hear to be reassured.

I am angry at those that have displayed ignorance, lack of interest, even worse — were in denial or dismissive, thought/acted in a selfish way, and lacked humanity or compassion.

I am disappointed that apart from one friend, none of my close circle have asked after my parents, who reside in Asia (but it is not entirely their fault — I also blame the media).

I am worried that it may be a long time before I can be reunited with my parents again; they are old, and I want to be there for them but I can’t, and I know I should stay away from them since I’m in a country that seems to be letting it spiral out of control.

I felt isolated long before people started self-isolating.

I am anxious because I can’t even bring myself to go outside knowing how I feel.

If I can feel all this in the comfort of my own home, I can’t even begin to imagine how health workers have felt all this time waiting on the front lines.

I have felt many things, but I have not felt panicked at the thought of starvation, or myself dying from this.

The lack of certainty has not affected me much either, rather the lack of control over how others have behaved.

My First Experience of Meditation.

The most frequent piece of advice I’ve received this year is “you should take up meditation”. I struggled to grasp it; having tried and failed twice via a popular online app, but months later I learned it from the most unusual experience. It all...

The most frequent piece of advice I’ve received this year is “you should take up meditation”. I struggled to grasp it; having tried and failed twice via a popular online app, but months later I learned it from the most unusual experience. It all started off the back of a stressful week. I was so stressed that I went for two consecutive Indian Head massages. On the second visit, I picked up a leaflet for a “satsang” – a large spiritual gathering headed by a spiritual leader from India who is famous for her embracing hugs. I thought maybe I could see, feel, and hopefully experience some form of meditation. So a few days later on a whim, I went together with a supportive friend that was also interested. At the event we were thrown in to the deep end, we were each given spiritual water and found ourselves chanting, touching our heads and shoulders, and twirling around without truly catching what the English translator was saying. A baby knocked my water over and my friends got dirt in it. At the break we queued for masala dosas, a volunteer came by and advised us the wait would be 45 minutes long. We were hungry so we decided we would leave in search for dinner. Before we got out of the line, I said we wouldn’t get a hug from Amma. My friend said to me “I just need a hug” and I replied “Aw, well I’ll give you a hug” – I visualised the loving embrace Amma would have given. It was such a powerful hug that the lady behind us in the queue then questioned whether we were lining up for food or not. That was a proper hug. I couldn’t help but chuckle at what had just happened, and my friend said I’m a good hugger so I guess it worked! And so we left the event, in search for dinner elsewhere and just about managed to squeeze in a food order before close. Afterwards, my friend took me to a special park nearby. When we got there a Japanese garden appeared under the midnight moonlight. It was dark and chilly but eearily quiet and peaceful. All I could hear was the sound of the gushing waterfall feature right in front of me. It sent me in to a trance like state. We were silent. Moments later, my friend asked me how I felt. I responded with the words that came to mind “happy, peaceful, free”. My friend told me that was what meditation was. I was intrigued at the notion but remained curious. After a stressful week I was certainly feeling very relaxed, more so than the Indian Head massages. We lay on stone slabs running across the pond and stared up at the moving clouds in the sky. Being that we are in the heart of London, the sky was filled with moving dots of lights from the airplanes, not an unusual sight from my flat every evening, but looking up, we were amazed by the sheer number of moving dots that my friend wondered if they were stars. We talked about the meaning and importance of freedom and other dimensions of experience. Soon the clouds parted and the sky went black. I readjusted my focus and noticed the planes started hovering. I suddenly realised they were indeed, lots and lots of stars. I felt a childlike sense of wonder at the world. A night I will never forget. Two days later, back in my flat I was sat on my sofa in the morning, as usual stressing out about work and life in general. I looked out my window and told myself to focus all my concentration on the large block of flats across the river in the distance. Slowly I found myself entering a state of complete stillness, and I was no longer aware of any pains or aches in my body. I became increasingly aware of all my racing thoughts as they started to slow down. I also experienced a separation of my thoughts from my feelings. This seemed to allow my thoughts to flow freely with no psychological defence or constraint. I think a good 15 minutes passed. After I came out of it, I felt a renewed sense of inner peace and energy which got me through an otherwise stressful day. It was magical. I meditated.