Mindfulness is paying attention and noticing what's happening around us and inside ourselves, right now, without judging anything. And there's so much going on in and around us at every moment. Paying attention helps us to connect with people, our experiences, how we're thinking and feeling, and what we're creating.
Most of us divide our attention between self-care, family, friends, jobs, and other activities and organizations. Our digital devices, social media, gaming, TV, and other entertainment also vie for our time and focus. And we track what our competitors and others in a similar art are creating. How can we learn to notice and leverage when, where, and how we pay attention so we can enhance our creative outcomes?
Every moment is an opportunity to become more attentive. We can take several pauses in our day and just breathe and notice our feelings and thoughts. Connected to what we're thinking and feeling, we can better notice what excites and enlivens us– that's where we can best put our creative energy.
We can stop, listen, and look around often to pay attention to who and what's around us. If we focus all our awareness on what other artists or companies are doing, we might slip into a place of always trying to imitate and play catch up to them. We can look in new ways, seeing not just what our competitors are making, but also what they may be missing. Aware of what's already created lets us imagine and create growth and opportunities, for instance exploring what their idea would be like combined with an idea of ours.
Next time you're looking for ideas to advance what you're creating, notice if you're always approaching from the same angle. Then, like the giraffes, see how you can stretch your neck and look beyond your normal view. Maybe you can branch out and go somewhere new to feed your ideation. You can take a trip to the library and browse magazines that you'd never look at; or to a new museum; or to a different type of store; or to a movie you wouldn't normally choose. Or you can talk to strangers or listen to a podcast or TED talk on a topic you know nothing about. Browsing new areas helps fertilize the imagination, making new connections in our minds that can open up our innovation.
If we always look in the same direction, we may miss everything else. Pay attention, look around, and see what new comes up and how it enhances your creative practice.