I tend to be selective about who I take advice from when it comes to creativity, attaining better focus, stress relief, and the like. I’ve found that one of the terrific aspects of Medium is the wealth of knowledge and the varying viewpoints available to us here. I try to decipher if the writer of an article which I’m reading has walked the walk and is not just talking the talk when suggesting ideas which may, or may not, enrich my life in some way.
Here is a little background on myself so you can determine if I’m worthy of you continuing reading and taking to heart anything that I am eventually going to suggest.
I have worked in the entertainment field full-time since 1992 as a comedian, actor, magician, and writer. For the past nearly nineteen years, I have produced and performed in the “Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show” in Orlando, Florida. Although it hasn’t led to worldwide fame, since you probably have no idea who I am, I am currently living a beautiful life, I am not forced to travel for my job, I’m happy, treated very well, and have provided well for my family.
In my tiny niche of the entertainment industry, which is a magic comedy dinner show, it is paramount that I stay current and continuously update and even reinvent myself when changes happen in the culture. Creativity is a necessity for me because I do not have the budget to compete with the likes of Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and the many other multi-billion dollar companies which are located just a few miles from me. Early on, I realized I had to take a different approach, which would not rely on millions of dollars, flash, and advertising to create a buzz about our business and hopefully repeat customers.
The approach which I settled upon involves me doing things on my own, writing original material and build props and set pieces if it falls within my skill set. Because I live and work in a bustling tourist town, I have to cater to the masses from all walks of life and every corner of the world. Also, I do not have a director or a “team” of any kind, other than my wife and kids who occasionally give me advice. I do have an assistant named “Ruby,” but since she is a mannequin, she rarely provides information.
Then, What’s The Problem?
Dealing with burn out is a major issue with me. I have performed thousands of shows during my tenure in Orlando, so many in fact, that I must continuously stay self-aware of whether or not I’m reaching the point of “hitting the wall,” to use the runner’s term. You may have seen live shows when the performers look like they are phoning in their performance? Most likely, they have hit the wall and are burnt out. Performers and entertainers are human beings and live shows take a toll, not only on the body, more importantly, the mind. After a time, performing the same show becomes monotonous, and one needs to find a way to make it fresh again. I tend to slip and slide into and out of dry spells, bouts of depression, and bursts of creativity, most likely, possibly just like you. The way I attempt to deal with burnout is to try to keep the show fresh and to do so, that means I need to find new ways to flex my mental muscles.
What to Do?
Meditate. I’ve found that ten-minute blocks of meditation once or twice daily has dramatically increased my creative juices. The mind is like a drunken monkey, scatted, and out of control. The mind races from one thought to the next, which fights against your ability to control stress and maintain your concentration. I use a free app called Insight Timer; it offers guided, self-guided meditations, and music to listen to while relaxing, meditating, or trying to drift off to sleep. For years, I ignored the idea of meditation and wrote it off as something that “wasn’t for me.” I didn’t understand the real benefits, although I had read that there are so many. The beauty of meditation is that there is no wrong way to do it. You cannot fail.
The Beginning of my Journey
Just by attempting mediation, I began to see results. Firstly, I started to understand just how quickly my mind wanders, which, in turn, caused me to realize how much I needed to rein in my brain. I set the Insight Timer to ten minutes and found a straight back chair, in a quiet place alone. I didn’t even allow our dogs to be in the room with me.
Often, in the beginning, I could barely get through the ten minutes, and sometimes, I still can’t, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have benefits. I began to have creative flashes in my sleep while driving, eating, and various other times during the day, but never while meditating. And that is the point, during meditation, the mind is allowed to halt those and the twenty million other random thoughts that are racing through your brain.
That reboot, that, taming the drunken monkey does something remarkable to your mind. So amazing in fact, that science has yet to determine why or how it works, and since it doesn’t allow for hard, quantitive data, many have dismissed meditation as some mystical hocus-pocus, even though the ancients have known about and praised meditation since the dawn of recorded history.
I know you’re familiar with the basics of meditation, and it may seem silly or rudimentary to you, and if that’s the case, may I suggest you do some research. The following are a few links to articles found here on Medium:
You may wonder how could meditation possibly help me if I’m not in a creative field, or I don’t consider myself a creative person. My answer to that is, we can all benefit from being more “self-aware,” can’t we?
Meditation has helped me see aspects of myself, which I was unaware. It has made me aware of my surroundings and my lifestyle, which in turn has led me to be more grateful for what I have.
I began to see results after about a week of doing two, ten-minute sessions a day. Give it a shot, and please let me know if you see a difference.