The meditation experiment: the conclusion


I try five week experiments to get more creative juice into my life. For this experiment, it’s 20 minutes of meditation every day.


I made a vase out of a discarded lightbulb I found in a pool room. Surprised at how easy it was. A couple of minutes bashing away with a screwdriver and viola! Nature and recycled glass.

Five weeks of meditation is done!

Unsurprisingly, it’s starting to become a morning habit. Like brushing my teeth in the morning, it just feels wrong to leave the house without meditating.

Morning meditations work best for me. In the night I’m too sleepy and distracted and things go all up in the air if I go out after work.

This does mean that I have to wake up earlier, which is not easy for me.

I’ve resorted to setting my alarm down the hallway out of the bedroom, because if it’s on my bedside table, I snooze until the very last minute.

I read that guided visual meditations are best for thinking out of the box and counting breath meditations strengthen your willpower.

Given how I have to leave my alarm 5 meters away from my bed, my best bet right now is to focus on the willpower-enhancing breath meditations (If you wanna go all fancy yoga, the breath meditations are called pranayama).

Some random notes during the experiment:

  • I leaned heavily on guided meditations and am slowly getting self-sufficient with time and experience. I imagine it’s like learning ballet without actually going to a class. Lean on other people’s experiences for the first bit.
  • Yogaglo has the best range of meditations
  • iPhone apps are largely shit
  • I talked to a friend that went on a 10-day vipassana retreat and the teachers recommended he practice for 2 hours every day. He’s the second person I know who went on this retreat and found the 2 hour commitment unsustainable and now doesn’t meditate at all. I’ll stick to my 20 minutes until I feel the need to add more time
  • I’m still working on trying to fit a 20 minute yoga practice in during the morning as well

Does this make me more creative?

Well, it makes me worry less, which means I have more space in my mind to be creative.

It also sets me up to prioritise my most creative, most important stuff first during the day. And I think I’m turning into a better human, which is a good thing.

Will I continue with it?

Fuck yes. It’s breaking down rigid thought patterns and opening my way of thinking. Why wouldn’t you want more of that?

Breaking down the daily routines of creative folk

Podio has put together an interactive graphic on what creative folks do each day. If you go over to the site you can hover over each section for more information. For example, Mary Flannery O’Connor, a novelist, spent most of her afternoon on hobbies, painting, friends and taking care of birds.

It’s interesting to see how much eating and leisure is involved. I’m all for more of that!

Oneness, obsession and creativity

There’s this in-depth, vulnerable interview that I’ve been reading over and over again. The great discontent talked to Jonathan Harris, an artist and computer scientist.

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Jonathan Harris portrait by Jess Scully (source)

He spoke about creative vulnerability, introversion and at the same time, belonging. There’s a bit about spending less time in front of screens (which I feel really strongly about), but the bit that really struck me was the way he described oneness (warning – this gets hippy, fast):

“We’re all living our own lives and caught up in our own dramas – all of which are totally valid – but there is also another scale of life that’s happening, which is the scale of our planet and all of our consciousnesses together…

“You can look at that from metaphorical standpoint in terms of the Internet and all of us being users and blah, blah, blah; or you can look at it from a more mystical or spiritual standpoint. If you read into Zen philosophy or any mystical tradition, they all basically point to the same idea: there’s just one consciousness and we’re all expressions of it, and everything is connected because it’s all emerging from the same source.

“If you accept that premise, then one way of seeing every human being, animal, tree, or anything else in our world is as specific expression of a more fundamental universal consciousness. Each of those expressions – each human, plant, or animal – has something unique to it. The way the whole entity can become more conscious is for each of those expressions to embrace what they do uniquely. People should embrace their obsessions because that’s what they’re naturally programmed to do in this world”

Fucking-A! That’s what I’m all about.

It’s important to obsess about your projects, the stuff that you make just for you.

Follow that wild rabbit without asking a lot of questions. That’s something I’m hungry for. I like how Jonathan sees this as part of our consciousness, our being.

It’s almost like we owe it to embrace our obsessions.

Just fucking go with it and see what sticks.

“A good starting place for discovering [what is unique to you] is looking at your obsessions and embracing them…I’ve tried to embrace this obsessive, cataloging, organising, labelling impulse that seems to exist in my family. I’ve channeled it in my own way through working with data…Everybody has obsessions, and the nice thing about obsessions is that they give you an innate advantage regarding certain activities, because others wouldn’t want to do those things”

Read the article. It’s worth your time.

Sarah Wilson’s story: in sketch note

I made a sketch note from a talk I attended by Sarah Wilson, a NY Times best-selling author, journalist and wellness coach.

It was a great, honest talk about how she changed from a straight-laced journalist to someone that speaks her truth and runs a business that helps people eat well.

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The notes:

Sarah Wilson started in journalism. She was doing that for 20 years until she got this odd, debilitating illness.

It forced her to let go and live in a Byron hut for a little while. During that time, she researched health and thought she’d give cutting out sugar a go. She told her people on her blog.

The idea took wings and flew off and Sarah chased it to a blog post, then an e-book, then a book, then a business.

Really, her story is about feeling ok with the uncomfortable and the unknown.

“If you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re on the right track. Trust intuition, not advice. Use it for motivation.”

Blunder your way around, you never really know when you make it.

She says that all of life is an experiment and to treat it as such.

Get into stuff, throw lots of ideas into the internet and see what happens. The ideas that you juggle never really land, you have to keep on experimenting.

When you have a community, foster it and care and act on how people react.

Sarah follows a Seth Godin philosophy of being generous with your work first, then business will follow.

Share freely.

Start small and then invest back into the business when you’re making money. Always, always, have 3 months worth of wages in the bank for your team.

Have a morning routine that includes meditation and exercise. Make space, not time, for the stuff that matters. All successful business women do this.

What you’ll find is that your wellness expands to all areas of your life.

If you have a problem, take it for a two hour bush walk. It gets the thoughts flowing and out of your system.

And a health note: Get cooking to make a difference. Eat foods that make you feel alive.

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The meditation experiment: Brain rejigging and creativity – Week 1

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I try five week experiments to get more creative juice into my life. For this experiment, it’s 20 minutes of meditation every day.


The first few days of getting into meditation is rough. As I sat there, with my eyes closed and the rustle of the leaves in my ears, I resented finding the time to meditate. I dreaded the next four weeks.

Then slowly, slowly, thankfully, I began to see the point of it all.

Slowly, slowly, my mind is getting clearer.

First thing in the morning is best, preferably before anyone talks to me.

After one week, the routine is set, so much so that when I couldn’t find the time to meditate this morning, it felt like I was going throughout my day without brushing my teeth. Something felt wrong, out of place.

But I’m not going to be able to wake up early every day to meditate, and that’s ok. The World Cup was worth it.

I’m using a mix of self-meditation and guided meditations. I feel a little uncomfortable doing self-guided meditations only, mainly because I end up thinking of what I can cook with what I have in my fridge. It’s good to have the infrequent reminder to come back.

Am I feeling more creative this week?

I’d say I’m more dedicated to my creativity. Because I’m waking up earlier, I’m able to do half an hour or so of work that I feel is important to me.

I’m also starting to realise that alot of stuff that I think is important, isn’t really as important as it seems at the time. The little stuff is making way for me to work on the big projects without freaking out.

Interesting titbit: If I check my phone and assorted apps before I meditate, it takes me what feels like forever to still my mind.

How to use smell to trigger creativity

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Our brains create powerful associations by using our senses and with a little bit of thought, we can use it to our advantage.

We can trigger a creative mood when we’re not feeling it by using our brain’s natural smell/memory association.

Pick a favourite perfume or essential oil and use it the next time you’re creating what you love.

Then do it the time after that and the time after that.

For the next five times of you writing/painting/playing, use this smell technique. Just smell the fragrance and get to work.

It’s kind of like how just smelling coffee can give you energy, except what we’re doing is smarter, more conscious.

Creating this ritual around your art process does three things:

  1. It helps you to shift into the flow, faster
  2. There’s a memory and thinking associated with the smell
  3. This practice gives you pause to respect your process

I use geranium oil, it has been my favourite smell for seven years now. If you’d like some help on picking an essential oil, try How to choose an essential oil: the hippy way

Think of how a smell can invoke a time, place, person or era. Now use it for your greater good.

The meditation experiment: Brain rejigging and creativity


I try five week experiments to get more creative juice into my life.


This is the beginning of my meditation experiment.

News sources are banging on about how important it is for your willpower, focus and creativity and I’m conceding.

Let’s see where this takes us.

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I’ll be meditating for at least 20 minutes a day and will give you an update once a week. This is the first post of the series.

Why I’m experimenting with meditation:

My tools:

  • An alarm to wake up earlier
  • Yogaglo: It has heaps of guided meditations. Once I get a feel for how it goes, I can move to self-guided.
  • A simple meditation app. I’m trying out a couple, will let you know my preference.

 

The best stuff is in my love letters

If you read Run Wild via RSS, I have a secret for you.

The best stuff goes into my fortnightly love letter.

I send out an intimate letter that contains an easy creative exercise and ideas for you to think about.

Sign up to the love letters -

It’s a pause, a celebration of the quiet moments and creative sparks. You get to see the sparks of future projects.

There are zines and bits of art that get sent through the paper and stamp postal system.

People have described it as a ‘perfect start to the day’ and ‘a good read to be challenged with new perspectives’.

I honestly believe that the best conversations happen when we share our stories in this connected way.

Here’s some examples of past love letters.

How to choose an essential oil: the hippy way

I was taught this way by a naturopath. She was the kind of strong, confident woman that changes your life with a chance encounter.

You’ll need about half an hour for this exercise. Enjoy the slow, sensual process and don’t rush through it.

Locate a physical store that has an extensive essential oil collection.

For Sydney-siders, I recommend Newtown’s Pharmacy. For Americans, WholeFoods will do in a pinch but a hippy/herbal store is better.

Start opening a couple of bottles and having a smell.

If you see any labels that say things like ‘lavender fragrance’ and not ‘lavender essential oil’, back away slowly. Most of the time, the fragrance mixes are completely artificial or diluted with half-arsed carrier oils. You deserve quality.

See which essential oil scent draws you in.

If you prefer a starting point, these cover a gamut of oil tones:

  • Sandalwood
  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Geranium

Do you like darker, herbal smells or bursts of citrus? Experiment.

Base it on your instinct.

You can go home and search what they’re traditionally used for later. Right now we’re trying to find out what your body craves.

Pick an essential oil that you like. They last for forever so it’s really worth the (small) investment.

Get yourself a traditional water and candle air diffuser.

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Over the years I have experimented with electronic diffusers, humidifiers and all sorts of gadgets to disperse essential oil smells and the cheap, candle + water diffuser wins every time.

It’s the best at releasing oils and the most care-free, low maintenance way.

Pick one that has a deep well for water and holds a tealight candle. The more shallow water wells will require monitoring, which is cool if you’re into that kind of thing, but I am all for low maintenance.

When you’re ready to use your oils at home, fill the well of the diffuser with 5 – 10 drops of essential oil and 3/4 water.

Light a tealight candle underneath.

Enjoy.

Relax.

You now know a thing or two about aromatherapy so expand your oil collection and add the process to your day to day.