Our whole civilization is based on the idea that rational knowledge is king. But rational, empirical knowing is only a small part of our human potential. Concepts, by their very nature, are limiting. And so, when we fill our heads with ideas about how things are, we invariably end up boxing ourselves into a corner.
So What is Creative Resistance, in Real Terms?
Creative resistance is born from the conceptual mind contradicting itself. It fights with itself because it is a linear mechanism and cannot contain opposing ideas or beliefs.
For example, we might say, ‘I don’t want to exercise, but I know that I should.’ Or – ‘I want to do this creative project, but for some reason I can’t sit down to do it.’
When this happens, there are ideas at play that are fighting with other ideas or beliefs, some of which are unconscious. We might have an unconscious limiting belief about our creative abilities, so when we go to sit down to create something out of a momentary, pure desire to create, we might experience this hidden limiting belief as resistance-to-creating.
Creative Resistance Also Comes from Fear of the Unknown.
Fear of the unknown is a basic, fundamental fear. For example, our fear of death comes from fearing the unknown. For most of us, we don’t actually know what happens when the body dies. We hear different stories about it, and we form beliefs around it. And so we fear either a belief about it, or we fear what we don’t know about it. Either way, as instinctual as it may seem to be, the fear is never based on any truth or actual experience of so-called, ‘death.’
Another example, such as our fear of creating something, might come from our fear of the unknown – of not knowing how it will turn out, or what other people will think of the final product. This uncertainty often manifests as resistance-to-creating. The resistance becomes stronger if we also have memories of unpleasant events or circumstances surrounding the creation of something – like if you have a childhood memory of a parent or friend disapproving of something you created.
The Remedy for Creative Resistance is Flow
When you are in flow, you are not in the conceptual mind. You are in awareness, just letting things happen.
Rather than trying to figure out with the thinking mind how to get around our resistance – which does not work simply because the thinking mind is in fact the problem – what I normally recommend in my creative coaching and creativity workshops is tuning into the felt sense of the body. When we tune into the body with the felt sense, we can instantly begin to be in Flow. When we deepen into this state, we gain clarity and understanding of what is needed in each moment. There is no need to fight anything because all things just are what they are. And the thinking, conceptual mind, now merely in the background of our experience, is not there to make a judgment about what is in the foreground of our experience. Creative resistance falls away.
Put simply, in the Flow state, we’re more able to be creative because we’re not fighting our own ideas or beliefs – we’ve forgotten them, to the degree we are immersed in the Flow. And so we’re just being in the moment, in appreciation of the process, in the bliss and expansiveness of the creative act.
Ways to Transform Resistance (Getting into Flow)
There are numerous ways to transform creative resistance. One way is by placing our attention fully on the entire body at once, and then consciously letting go of any tightness or anything that feels out of balance.
The fundamental cause of creative resistance is the conceptual, thinking, ‘monkey mind.’ Once we get some space, some distance from this mind, by switching to our tactile awareness, resistance is easily identified and released. If it comes up, we can just say, ok, that’s creative resistance – interesting, and let it go, and go back to the felt sense.
Creative resistance can also be instantly transformed once it is recognized, by self-love, because self-love involves merging with all aspects of oneself, becoming whole and complete. Creative resistance, which is based on fear, relies on an apparent separation of parts of oneself. By merging all parts of oneself in a meditative state, there is no longer any fear or resistance, and as long as we can maintain this powerful state to even a small degree in normal waking life, resistance will likely not be much of a problem.
Staying in the Felt Sense
The felt sense invariably leads to our Flow. By staying in the felt sense and letting go of thoughts as they come up, we train ourselves to be in the Flow. This is relatively easy to do, but it may take some time to really get into it and stay there.
Accessing Intuition via the Flow
If we become more accustomed to the Flow state, using it to guide us throughout our day, our day to day problems become lighter, and our decisions more automatic. Without any effort, our intuition takes over, and we stop trying so hard. It becomes much easier to just let go and let the world happen instead of coming from a place of trying to be in control.
The resulting effects of this – such as the feeling that we’re just along for the ride, that we’re not really doing the doing of anything – can be scary at first, because we’re so used to the idea that we (the personality structure, or ego) are in control. But if we just stay with it and keep letting go into bodily awareness, into the felt sense of our beingness, we will begin to see how the numerous benefits of Flow outweigh the initial psychological discomfort of it. We’ll see how, when we’re in our Flow, creative resistance is nonexistent.
What’s happening here is we are starting to let go of our default ego mind and merge with our true, higher Self.
~ To learn ways to transform resistance with a medium, using the creative process, see our Creativity Workshop and Courses page.
~ To learn more about creative resistance and the artist’s creative process, get the book.