Photo by sanwaldeen.com
There are books on creativity and books about mindfulness. I like when they overlap. Here are a few of my faves. Feel free to send me your favorites.
Creativity, INC by Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar and Disney is at the top of my list for anyone interested in fostering a creative workplace. From starting a "brain trust" to effectively problem solve to embracing change and cherishing your employees, Catmull easily and effectively communicates the Pixar way. Revealing anecdotes about Steve Jobs and George Lucas are bountiful but it is Catmull's ability to learn from Pixar's failures and adapt that make this book truly beneficial.
Where does "mindfulness" come into play? I had a hunch reading this book that, "this dude meditates", but it wasn't till two-thirds of the way through that he copped to it. Sure enough, Ed Catmull is a daily meditator and speaks and teaches at Spirit Rock in Northern, California. I've noticed recently, when these super successful people credit meditation for their accomplishments they seem to always talk about how it reinvigorated them, reenergized and reawakened them creatively. Cheaper than drugs too!
Speaking of drugs, The Dude and the Zen Master chronicles conversations between Jeff Bridges, aka The Dude from the movie, The Big Lebowski, and his Buddhist teacher, the renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman. Chapters are based on famous Lebowski lines such as; Phones Ringin, Dude, You Mean Coitus?, New Shit Has Come to Light, etc... The book is conversational and easy and like the film The Big Lebowski, it contains hidden and subtle brilliance throughout. Bridges examples of using his Zen practice as an actor on film sets are insightful and inspiring for any artist.
So, this Mindfulness stuff is too "out there" for you? You need some science and facts to back this stuff up? I have the book for you. Ellen Langer, who has been described as, "the mother of mindfulness" published Mindfulness in 1990. The book chronicles her numerous scientific experiments with people and overwhelmingly demonstrates the awesome and mostly untapped potential of the human mind. This book isn't about Yoga or meditation. This book is about everyday awareness and the benefits we all receive when we continue to challenge perceived definitions in everything throughout our lives.
Something about Elizabeth Gilbert bothers me and I should probably just get over it. Why? Because she's brilliant and understands and explains creativity like no one else. Watch her TED Talk for starters. She believes creativity is magic and it is something you can catch and harness. I love that idea and for me to pretend like I have not experienced that magic myself is an insult to the creative process in general. Real creativity comes from being open and saying yes. Staying fearless in the face of obstacles and logic. Gilbert makes the point again and again that we are all creative, we are all artists, it is dependent on you if you want to let it out or not.
David Lynch. What can I say? Get this book on audio and dive in deep. I listen to it once a year just to get a refresher course and see just how far meditation and creativity can take a person. Yeah, Lynch is sometimes out there and his train of thought can be all over the place but the book is grounded by quotes from the Upanishads and that keeps it grounded. Lynch talks a lot about transcendental meditation but this book is good for any creative person. If you are a fan of David Lynch's films and like stories from behind the scenes it is a must.