A journey through the mindful artistic practice: observations, emotions and the sweet nothingness and how their transformation into creative flows works.
Different experiences in life trigger emotions and – kept in your body – they can build up to incredible energies that need to be released. Transforming the energies that occur and using them for creativity flows leads to tangible creative output. Embracing those energies offers the great opportunity to create new things and grow.
A trigger can be any situation or experience in life, positive events as well as negative events or as I call it “the sweet nothingness” – the exception, but nonetheless, a very interesting situation for creativity: a situation that is defined by a lack of outside stimuli, it’s the absence of mind stimulation. you may also name it boredom. 
The absence of stimuli or mind occupation is extremely rare in our society nowadays as we always occupy our minds with something, usually even with several things at the same time, hyper-active and simultaneously active in different zones. not present in one thing our minds got so used to juggle and multi-task that in a situation of boredom, may it be that quick 1 minute wait for a train – our auto-pilot takes control and we subconsciously take out our phones, engage in social media scrolling, email checking, texting, researching, online shopping…
moments of absolute boredom are very rare. People seem almost to panic if they have no wifi or no phone battery, as if the mind wouldn’t know anything else do to.
the sweet nothingness
I embrace moments of absent outside stimulation. My mind gets extremely creative with explorative daydreaming, weaving stories or with practicing “occupation therapy”: that’s what I call exploring the environment for things to occupy the mind with – another road that leads to a creative outcome. It’s important to remain playful and open-minded to any possible inspirational boost. Just a few examples: the shape of a leaf, a piece of paper, words written on a billboard. Sometimes the first things that come to your mind, if you are lucky enough to find yourself in this mental vacuum of a blank mindspace – can be singular words also or letters or melodies echoing in your mind.
observation is another great source of inspiration. The mindful absorbing of the environment often makes me stumble in awe about the things I would have probably missed out on if I’d taken myself out of the current situation into dreamlands. taking the risk of being exposed to unpleasant observations or interaction also gifts us with positive surprises: human interaction is just another great source of inspiration for the creative minds.
A powerful trigger are emotional states. You think you can’t control an emotion, that it just overwhelms you like a wave rolling over you, but this is not entirely true. The truth is that being an antenna to your emotional landscape – and to be able to determine where the pointer is at – entails great opportunities. More precisely you may not even want to determine what kind of energy you are dealing with – where the pointer of the emotional compass points at – but what the amplitude of the energetic wave is to conclude: a certain energy level has arisen inside you.
love and anger
I will state two extreme examples: love and anger. Love overflows me often, but let’s take some simple observations of the daily life:
A baby leaf is unfolding.
A very melodic blackbird song is sung and then you hear the answer from another street’s tree.
The great alluring smell from the not so near coffee roastery that sometimes hangs in a sweet cloud over my neighborhood when the winds are fortunate.
These moments spark off the great feeling of content, love and oneness with my surroundings and the world and make me feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. No surprise that adds an incredible lightness to my day and brings ease to everything I do and the fresh drive and inspiration to start new things.
Anger on the other hand is a feeling that may not be so welcome or even may be suppressed often. But I experience the great potential in this powerful emotion: a lot of energy can be set free through anger.
After the moment of awareness about an emotional state you will recognize the potential to redirect the amplitude of energy you achieved and to set it free. With this movement the transformation begins. So we are aware, we register the amplitude and then move the energy somewhere else.
One of my most popular examples is – and I will have to include a thank you note to my neighbors in my first music release – is the energy that arises when my neighbors are noisy. It could be that I am awake early, because of the young child next door that is likely to be brought next wall to my bedroom when crying and screaming in the early mornings or my other downstairs neighbor with an unpleasantly bad taste in music who likes to listen to monotonous high beats per minute gabba, dumb techno and rap music in a way that I can’t ignore or overhear. So in an attempt to drown the undesired sounds out, I like to take this opportunity like an unspoken invitation similar to during a thunderstorm “we can be loud now” to sit down on my piano chair. You can transform the energies inside you.
Playing music is not only a mental activity, but it is highly physical. As I type these words there is a sensory quality to it: to feel the keys under my fingers softly being pushed or enthusiastically rushed and so it is for the piano keys: to let the weight from your shoulders and arms and thoughts and feelings sink into them and let the energies that occupy your mind flow into it while switching off the thinking mind. Like this the physical as well as the mental tension that was kept inside is released and the energy is transformed into movements and simultaneously into sound waves. To create your own sound can free you from the energies.
In the same time you are releasing them, you are also your own listener. And this can to grow new emotions actually. I am very sensitive to music and easily get swept away when I feel it. I enjoy that very much and love to let go. Being moved by your own creations is one of the highest feelings I have experienced during the transformation.
Needless to say that this transformational activity has a therapeutic effect without seeking it. Re-balancing emotions, creating new things and being mesmerized by the outcome – whether it is a tangible result like a new song or just the content feeling during the release and transformation process – brings peace of mind. The physical part of music playing reinforces the mind-body connection, using your fingertips, the very highly sensitive parts of your body and reactivates the microcosm-macrocosm connection: another source of serenity.
By checking in with your emotions and energy levels, mindfulness and observation and the transformation into your artistic practice an artistic growth is certain: balance, peace and serenity and of course new artistic creations.
Boredom isn’t that old of a phenomena people suffer from: at least the actual word. First used in 1845, the “state of being bored,” from bore + -dom: employed in a sense “bores as a class” (1849) and the “practice of being a bore” (1840, a sense properly belonging to the term of boreism, 1833. “Boredom” first became a word in 1852, with the publication of Charles Dickens’ convoluted serial, Bleak House. But before the word was invented, the emotional state obviously dates back a lot further. Roman philosopher Seneca talked about boredom as a kind of nausea, while Greek historian Plutarch noted that Pyrrhus (he of the “Pyrrhic victory”) became desperately bored in his retirement. For your further reading on boredom: Dr. Peter Toohey, a Classics professor at the University of Calgary, traced the path of being bored back in 2011 In: “”Boredom: A Lively History.” URL
The Truth Project
This article is a submission to The Truth Project, a collaborative art project by artist and writer Laura Livia Grigore. This text also marks the beginning of a new series about music and mind on repeat magazine.
Read more about the Truth Project here.
Suzee Lee is a master of cultural studies, classically trained pianist and musician, based in Berlin and works as an editor and music journalist. The cultural researcher is a published writer in visual culture and feminism and has “been there/done that” many places/things in the music&art scene. She likes cats, nature, singing and dancing, playing new instruments and the experimental artistic practice @suzee_lee .