So I was painting this yesterday and it triggered some thoughts I wanted to share.
Whenever I get into a deep creative flow (usually while painting or drawing) all conscious thought fades away and is replaced by a quiet, meditative void. While in this state, my hands and brain are deeply connected, working independently from my conscious mind. As they do so, my mind is free to think about things other than what I am doing with my hands. This state of detached thought is why I love what I do. It's FLOW. Time passes without noticing. Productivity increases. My body and mind essentially remove "ME" from the equation altogether. After a particularly deep flow session, I'll come away from a drawing or painting not really remembering having done it. Of course, I was there the whole time but it was a different part of my brain that was in control and making decisions.
Recently, I've noticed that random memories from past dreams have been popping up into my mind while I'm in this creative flow. (I'm talking about images, places, and events from dreams from years and years ago that I haven't thought about since - crazy stuff that I didn't even know I remembered!).
It's believed that your brain does not distinguish dream memories from actual memories. Which is fascinating because they are obviously very different experiences. So I started to wonder: Why is creative flow triggering dream memories far more often than it is actual memories? And furthermore, why are these dream memories virtually inaccessible except while in the meditative state facilitated by creative flow?
My answer: Perhaps FLOW and DREAMS are the same process, utilize the same brain connective power, and access the same portion of the brain's hard drive.
Think about it:
- REM sleep creates dreams.
- Dreams are experiential manifestations of disparate subconscious stimuli, accessed and assembled by your brain while you sleep.
- It is suspected that dreams act as a training program for your mind, forging connections and confronting challenges/fears/etc, and creating insights you didn't know were there. They provide lessons meant to be carried into your waking life. Essentially, dreaming is a meditative state where you learn through randomly generated experiences.
- Remembering these dreams after waking creates dream memories.
- The brain stores dream memories in the brain just as it does actual memories.
- Dream memories tend to stay hidden until triggered, yet readily surface while in a state of creative flow.
- Creative flow is a subconscious state that transcends your normal thoughts and unlocks capabilities otherwise hidden. Essentially, it's a meditative state where you learn through doing.
So I suspect that creative flow is essentially the same unconscious process triggered by REM sleep. In both instances, the brain is randomly accessing subconscious thoughts and memories to forge new connections between them. It's like your brain goes into super computer mode, unlocking powers you don't have in your waking life, making you capable of things you didn't know you were.
CREATIVITY and DREAMS come from the same brain space.