How Creativity Frees the Mind

How Creativity Frees the Mind Hugh Delehanty embarks on a creativity and mindfulness retreat, where he discovers that the key to being creative is to strip away all but the essentials of who and what you are. By Hugh Delehanty | July 12, 2017 “I think I’m going to shoot myself,” I screamed in exasperation. “Why?” asked art teacher Barbara Kaufman in a soft, melodic voice. “Look at what I’ve done with that blue paint!” I replied, pointing to my sad painting of a Buddha looking like an emaciated Project Runway model. “It’s a disaster!” I thought I knew something about painting when I signed up for this retreat on creativity and mindfulness at the Spirit Rock meditation center in Northern California. After all, I’d studied traditional figure painting at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and had even spent time in Italy learning from the masters. But none of that seemed to matter now. The brushes were terrible and the paint—a fast-drying, water-based tempera—was so bright and cheerful that everything I did turned into a kindergarten birthday decoration. My painting had started out as a picture of the Buddha on fire but had somehow morphed into a muddy purple-and-gray mess like something by El Greco on happy pills. “Let’s turn this into a learning experience,” says Barbara, trying to calm me down. “Why did you start to paint over the gray?” “I thought it was looking too dark,” I replied. “So that’s when the judgment came in. I think there’s some muddiness inside of you. You don’t trust your first instinct. You have to edit it and paint it over and you end up with a muddy picture. You need to go with what’s emerging and listen to what the painting needs.” How did she know that about me? The reason I’d come to the retreat was to figure out a way to grapple with my inner editor. When I was a young writer, I thought that creativity was a form of alchemy that required falling into a deep, trancelike state that only a select few artists had ever mastered. I was obsessed with the tricks famous writers had used to stimulate the muse. The German poet Friedrich Schiller inhaled the fumes of...

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Why wait until tomorrow?

You don’t always have to have a specific goal for coaching. Most of the times clients come to me with a feeling of not knowing where to go next, simply an uneasy feeling.  Coaching will affect your whole life, not just fixing the fact that you want another job.    One of my clients mentioned that she didn’t like her job, didn’t like her boss and didn’t have any friends. She wanted friends. After a thorough value clarification she now has too many friends and too many job offers. Once she started to live authentically she attracted all the right stuff. It fully grounded her, she has more self love, more satisfaction in her life and feels connected to the community. When we started the coaching she didn’t realize that she had – in her own words – all these “crazy” rules for people resulting in no one was good enough to be her friend. She also had a trust issue and was afraid to open up about herself. She is still careful, but she realized that opening up to the right people in an appropriate way shows that she is human too with all the good and the bad stuff. It gives the relationship a flow.   So with her initial “I want to have friends” we were able to take a look at her whole life and turn it around for the best.   Another client came to me with a feeling of what now? Empty nester, not happy all around. She too is in a different job, has more friends, worked on existing relationships and feels more grounded. Just to show that you don’t have to have a specific goal. You can start with a simple statement or question and take it from there.    Why keep on living “wanting more” – feeling happy, hoping tomorrow will be better than today? Contact a coach you like and trust and work on yourself.   You too deserve to live your very best...

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Intuitive painting .. what is it?

Intuitive or mindful painting is a bit hard to explain because it is so different from what we are used to. We always have some kind of idea with whatever we set out to do. When intuitive painting is done right there is absolutely no agenda. The brush will do the work for you. You will work without any preconception as to what you are going to do. Now here’s the hard part. From all the workshops I have facilitated I’ve learned that what always comes to the surface is that it’s hard to believe that something without planning or skill can be worthwhile.  Emphasis is on the process, on the doing and being and not on the end result. By being in the moment without any judgment, by painting from the unconscious mind you will make room to connect to your inner wisdom. This is also called the flow or being in the zone.  Now the other thing I’ve noticed is that then the assumption arises that the end result will be ugly, messy and chaotic or that it has to be beautiful if it comes from the intuition. There is always an expectation as to what it should or should not be. The beauty is that it doesn’t have to be anything or can be all those things. It can be easy to do, it can be a struggle, it can be beautiful, it can be ugly. It doesn’t matter. It will  one thing and that is YOU.  In the life coaching workshops we will go into the meaning of what was painted and look at the now and the future, not the past as with art therapy. With intuitive painting we are not analyzing what was painted. It is more about engaging with your own mystery. In both cases healing will happen. Once you trust yourself that you can actually make something without the left brain in control you will notice the healing and freeing aspects of intuitive painting. Try it … not once or twice but make it a practice as with meditation and...

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How to not mop your dirty floor …

It might not surprise you that I get all kind of requests for coaching. It is without a doubt a big step to acknowledge that you need help and that hiring a coach can get you out of the quagmire and moving forward again. Some clients sign up right there and then, others still have doubts and fear to go out of their comfort zone. Let’s take a closer look at what some of the reasons for not hiring a coach are: 1. I can do it by myself 2. I don’t have the time right now 3. I can’t afford it I can do it by myself – Fantastic! And why has that not worked until now? How are you going to make a change? A coach has a whole program for you to work with. You will have to learn to look from different perspectives, learn what your core values are, how to take different decisions. Keep doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different outcome is the definition of insanity. It’s like mopping your floor with a dirty old smelly rag and a bucket full of murky water … you can keep pushing the dirt around but your floor is not going to get any cleaner. It will still be a dirty mess. You will have to abandon your old habits. You will have to rinse the bucket and fill it with clean soapy warm water, preferably with a heavenly citrus smell …. mmmh … take a moment to breath it in … can’t you almost smell it? … now take a clean rag and start cleaning … what a difference does that make? That’s how different decision making works. It will get you a different result. Stop reading if you are not prepared to step out of your comfort zone and make a conscious step to change your life for the best. If you are interested keep reading. Some of the excuses for deciding to not hire a coach, even knowing deep down that a coach can give the desired results, are: I don’t have the time right now – Right! What does the right time look like? Isn’t there a better time than now....

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How to get another outcome?

Why do we keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting another outcome? If you feel that something’s off in your life, out of balance, if it is not working for you, then the only way to get out if that conundrum is by getting out of your comfort zone and start making different decisions. Why is that so hard to do? It has to do with your thoughts, with what you believe is right.  We think that if we keep doing what we are doing that maybe one day something will stick and into a different direction. But that of course ain’t happening. We are master in manipulating our thoughts, our words so they match our belief system, even if we know that what we are doing is not working for us. That’s also the reason why it is so hard to convince people of another way of looking at things. Take a look at people around you, listen to what they are always talking about, and see if there is some kind of pattern in their lives. Maybe you never thought about it but I bet you see patterns all over, especially with older people. We call it set in their ways. But we all have those patterns and behaviors that for the most part are no longer working for us. So what to do if you do want to make a change? Well there is a way to get an unbiased look at what goes on inside you and that is by working from your right brain, your mysterious unconscious mind. Here there is no judgment, no belief system, so for example if you paint from your unconscious brain you get an unbiased look at yourself and your behavior patterns and you even “see” in the picture you paint why it is not working for you. So next time you want to make a change, go out of your comfort zone, pick up a brush and let this brush paint you a picture, the picture of your life. Best part is that you don’t even have to be an artist for it and it is fun and definitely eye opening....

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How I got my Tinnitus under control ….

For two decades now I have Tinnitus. If you don’t know what it is you are one of the lucky ones, but if you suffer from a buzzing or ringing in your ear you know how debilitating it can be. I won’t go in all the details about the how and why, but if you are interested to find out more about Tinnitus go to the American Tinnitus Association where you can find all the facts of this perceived sound that is not actually there. When I lived in Germany my doctor couldn’t find anything wrong, but prescribed me some pills to alleviate the symptoms. To tell you the truth it didn’t do very much but I kept taking the pills anyway until I moved to the US in 2000 where these pills were not FDA approved so I decided to stop taking any medication and just live with it. It worked on and off, nothing I tried like not listening to it, listening to music trying to sleep, but whatever I tried it didn’t change anything. Sometimes it got really loud. I had to tell myself not to pay any attention to that whistle in my ear but once I started actually listening to it I couldn’t hear anything else. The big surprise came when 5 years later I started to paint. Yeah you know paint on a canvas with paint. In the beginning I didn’t notice it but the sound was gone. Wow!! How did that happen? AI fter some time figured out that it must have something to do with the painting, with the getting in touch with myself by painting. I must say that I painted about every day and it had a calming effect. Now ten years later I am teaching and coaching with paint, more than I am painting myself and yes the sounds comes back … always when I haven’t painted in a while. I don’t perceive the sound as a nuisance anymore, but more as a warning signal that I need to pick up my brushes, grab a canvas and find that pot of paint.      ...

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