There is a reason why baseball players adjust their helmets ( and, ahem, other accoutrement), spit and kick the dirt a certain number of times when entering the batter’s box. Just as there is a reason why a ballet dancer might tie on his or her shoes a certain way each time, before stepping onto the stage to perform.
Ritual is a way to help us enter creative space, which, for creatives, may also be thought of as sacred space. By sacred space I mean the great silence and solitude that is inhabited by the moments of trudging through routine planning, writing, drawing… working out the details… until we suddenly cross the invisible barrier inside us… and find ourselves as observers watching the work happen through us.
Whether you are a believer in a higher being or not isn’t my point here. What I mean to point out is that there is an inner threshold between the mundane and the creative minds, and you can experience the crossing over as definitely an act as leaving a city sidewalk and entering a temple.
What helps some of us is to create a simple ritual to help us enter the creative zone. While this also falls into the category of Clearing Creative Consciousness, which I write about separately, it straddles into this series of articles because it affects how you set up and treat your creative space.
Adopt a personal ritual to enter creative space can begin to separate you and your mind from the cares and demands of the mundane world.
Having a distinct “threshold” can help you begin the crossing-over process, leaving one set of thoughts and tasks behind and angling your mind and body toward the creative work ahead. This can be as simple as fixing a cup of tea or coffee or filling a bottle of drinking water… or, say, an actual meditation practice. (Long, slow deep-breathing is a wonderful mind and body cleanse, releasing stress hormones that have accumulated in muscles and centering the mind.)
Keep the ritual simple. The mind is tricky and can work toward complexity. The creative’s task is always to simplify. Elaborate rituals can take over the time. Remember, they are always only a bridge to the open space inside you, from which creativity emerges.
A word… a single act. Currently, a door-curtain made of bamboo “beads” separates my writing room from the rest of the house. When I pass through it I know I am in my space.
And while my own morning and evening regimens include various meditation practices, entering into the creative space of a book I’m writing, say, a novel, takes only a single word. Sometimes it’s just the name of a character, or a tag-phrase for the situation they’re in (“jeopardy,” “tricky conversation,” “confusion,” “awareness the other character is hiding something”), and I’ve left the mundane world of the writing room and entered into the imaginal world of the characters.
Ritual does not work for every creative person. Some find it burdensome (or make it so). Experiment and see if it supports you in not only entering the space in which you create, but the inner space from which your creativity wants to pour.