Sunday, 2 July 2017

Just the Tip: Mindfulness

Mindfulness, I'm not talking about creating an Ohm at your desk, but taking a minute out—makes a world of difference.


I recently started a new job, and that job required me to work as a Graphic Designer—exactly what I've been doing for the past four years, so it shouldn't be too hard should it? I know how to design things, and that's why I was hired but what happens when you have internal panic, blocking all normal process? Nothing. Nothing happens.

Well, nothing useful anyway. Day to day, I could create endless shapes and forms in the lunch break as sort of creative cathartic release, but my work was lacking and I was just six steps away from being completely useless. In the pressure to be the best I could be for my new employers, I created abundances of stress for myself, clouding my head with anxiety and dread—not a common state for someone as laissez-faire as me. I had let the fear of not achieving, stop me for actually achieving anything.

I was so bogged down in fear that I was forgetting simple changes, mishearing easy instructions and basically creatively vomiting onto various Adobe software packages. It took two days away for my birthday, an honest and frank chat with the employers and a seismic shift in mindset to break free of the original Walden Creative Block '17 Edition.

I've never needed to rely upon actively seeking mindfulness but now that I've employed it once, it's become a great process for fixing issues before they've gripped a hold. So, should you need a space for your brain to do feck all every now and then, read on my beauties.

Tip 1: Get out, stay out and then return
Like a design based Jedi, piss off for a bit and come back—dependant on your availability upon the annual 'Piss Off for a Bit' calendar. If at most you can get 2 weeks, then go to Mexico and pretend not to see the crippling poverty you are facilitating in your enclosed holiday bureau and if you can merely get a longer lunch; go to that nice place with the slightly more fancy napkins and order that £22.50 dish that has no place being so darn expensive, because either way you'll have mentally distracted yourself enough to slowly begin the worm-like process of exiting the dark hole of creative struggle.

Tip 2: Getting from place to place, opens space for the mind to race
I find that I get my most free times mentally when I'm carrying myself down an ever constant path of repetition that I don't need to focus on where I'm heading, leaving time for focus on my head. From podcasts to music, if chosen correctly, you can zone out just enough to get where you need to but focus almost exclusively an external source you decide upon.

Tip 3:  It's about the needing for reading
Now, this is quite a personal tip, but if you find yourself stuck in the loophole of blocked ideas; it can't hurt to try. Reading any good book requires one thing of its reader – absolute concentration – which mimics exactly that of Yoga, Meditation or most Cult-based activities. I would recommend non-fiction as you learn as you do it and you needn't imagine characters or places but if it comes to a pinch, I wouldn't turn down a good Harry Potter book.


p.s. if you are actually interested in using reading for mindfulness, as a creative I cannot recommend anything more highly than Penguin's Great Ideas collection. There are now about 100 of these short books, all with beautiful covers and extracts of not-so-ironically great ideas. 

Tip 4: Lunch is a break
It's called a lunch break for a reason, so have a break, a walk, a run or a half hour cutting various shapes from sugar paper. The latter is my creative break, for when I have the time I make whatever shapes are spinning around my cranium; it's now developed into a bit of a thing of its own, under the branding of #lunchhour. A range of quick projects that set me free, it's rather fun.

So if making random crap isn't your scene, get outside and actually break from work. We have a lunch break because science defines we work better when we have breaks. Don't check those emails and don't pixel tweak, just bloody well get out that door!

Tip 5: Mindfulness doesn't end at the workplace
Allow yourself to tune-out, allow yourself to do nothing, allow yourself to make creative work without boundaries and allow yourself to be mindful when you need to. 
It may be a little obvious that for me, this blog is an external project to allow myself to stop thinking about producing design and start critiquing it, flipping stress and anxiety on its head and making myself the master of them. Give yourself time when you have the time to, it's horribly refreshing to do nothing for a while.

It's not all singing bowls and vibrating your centrifugal sounds, do what works for you, for your brain, for your life.

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