According to a 2002 report by the Gallop Organization over 80 million American adults have had at least one spiritual/religious experience that profoundly influenced their lives. Spiritual experiences are episodes of radically expanded awareness. Also known as peak states, altered states, awakenings, mystical states – they are far more common than people think. They’re the result of mediation, breathwork, prayer but they also come spontaneously. One of the things they teach us is to embrace the unknown. And embracing the unknown is a key to unleashing your creativity.
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Simone Ritter et. al. shows that taking on different and unknown experiences makes our minds more flexible. These can be simple things like tasting food we’ve never tasted before, going off the trail on a hike or following our noses rather than a pre-planned route when out for a walk. New experiences shake lose the rigidities that often develop in our thinking. They make us question limits we would previously have accepted and lived within.
If you think about it, that’s what creativity is. Whether we are writing a book, composing a song, painting a picture, or trying to find ways to make our work or our relationships easier, we need to think outside our normal limits. In that liminal space where we open to the unknown, we find solutions to problems, we invent things. And we create beauty that is the expressions of who we are.
There is no more profound and life enhancing experience of the unknown than the mystical spiritual state of Radical Awareness. In meditation, in breathwork or in simply opening up to life, we enter a state of unknowning. All the forms and patterns of our thinking fade as awareness expands to new realms. We learn first-hand what it’s like to live outside the limits of our thoughts and the added bonus: it feels really good. So if we want to become more creative, breathe deeply, still the mind, take on a spiritual practice. And if that’s too much to begin with, try eating food you never tasted before, tie your shoes in a different way, wear odd sox – the list is endless.