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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Book of Doing and Being

The Book of Doing and Being
Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work
by Barnet Bain

When we hear the word ‘creativity’, visions of paintings and sculptures and poetry and music float through our minds, our conventional wisdom suggesting that it is a special gift.

However, creativity expert Barnet Bain holds the view that everything we do is a process of creativity-- we are creating all the time.

In The Book of Doing and Being, he walks us through a series of over forty practical exercises while providing eye-opening insights into recognizing and reactivating that spark, that energy, that we all possess, that we call creativity, no matter what our job involves.

This is a book best read in small doses. And reading alone is not enough. As the author suggests, the book can be a helpmate, a companion, in our journey of rediscovering our creative self. It would help to have a journal handy and jot down your thoughts as you work through the exercises in this book.

Starting with a call to become aware of our hurdles to creative expression, the author provides a Self-Inquiry Practice to help us identify if the barriers to our inspiration are hand-me-downs or self-imposed -- more of a habit than a conscious choice. We learn that there is a cost to ignoring our creative intelligence. When we have a groupthink mentality, often trust popular culture and societal norms to give us an understanding of our world, we diminish our originality and eventually suppress our inherent artistry.

Whether it is the way we care for the people we love, or the way we brainstorm in a boardroom, we have an innate desire to improve the world in some way, based on our values. The author urges us to jot down a Life Wheel to serve as our values map-- a tool for identifying our goals, desires, dreams, priorities, and visions, not just in career and finances but also in family life, love life, health, relaxation, and spirituality-- represented as seven slices in this life wheel. As we tailor this wheel, reflecting on how much attention we would like to give to each slice, we are better able to recognize our deficit areas that need attention.

Neuroplasticity, the ability of our brain to form new neural connections at any stage in life, allows us to compensate for injury and disease and reclaim our functions. Similarly, the author proposes Creative plasticity: an imaginative malleability that welcomes and enhances creative flow. The four exercises in this chapter essentially serve to rewire the brain through relaxation. Be it mindful breathing to promote alpha brain waves, or a nap, or a nature walk, or a sojourn at a favorite body of water, we can all find what relaxes us and helps us refocus. Another practical and easily doable exercise for rewiring is to change up our routine - write with the non-dominant hand, drink beverage from a different utensil than the preferred one, sleep on a different side of the bed, sit at a different spot at the family dining table, take a new route to work. By approaching common things a bit differently, we can rekindle the flames of creativity.

The author notes that, “When the dynamism of doing comes together with the receptivity of being, creative innovation cannot be stopped.”

The book closes by asking us to be brave and “Let Go” - of a job, an identity, a way of being or relating, especially when it is difficult and full of complaints. The fear of what we could lose by letting go of the familiar is not easily offset by the promise of where we think creativity can take us. As a reassurance, the author acknowledges that Creativity is a gift --  a gift that is given to everybody, if we are open to receiving it.

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