In 19 days of mindfulness – day 3 and 4

Day 3 was another “learning” day with an article about the connections between mental illness and creativity. Starting with a quote from Plato and then on to a (neuro) scientific explanation of Dopamine and the relationship with the brain’s reward/pleasure system.

Dopamine can be stimulated through various things, including meditation, but to stimulate excessive dopamine to the level required to cause psychosis, requires a certain genetic disposition. Or so it is believed. Too much dopamine will impact on the creative process.

As I read, “a little madness can be good, but too much will destroy you”. Right, so.

The article then went on to profile seven creative women, including the likes of Karen Blixen, Virginia Woolf and Lee Miller, who all met with mental illness and suicide.

It got me thinking about other creatives (not just women) of more recent times, eg Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams to name a couple. It would seem that so often creativity is the public side of private suffering.

I’m not quite sure where this is leading, nor the point, exactly, but I do know when previously researching meditation/mindfulness I have found there is a negative side; that it can have a negative impact which is not widely mentioned nor understood. Mindfulness supposedly opens us to actually feel… be in the moment… and for some that might not be easy or helpful.

…. So on to day 4. “Writing brings peace”.

I’ve heard of “morning pages” before and despite being someone who can write/speak/think too much, I have struggled in my prior attempts at morning pages.

The idea is to write three pages (yes, three!) every morning. Or at least before midday. Streams of unconsciousness. Don’t think, just write. When I tried this previously it was such drivel I couldn’t really see the point. Maybe I tried it too early in the day. I get up at 5.45am for yoga, so doing this straight after, my mind was still either half asleep or too quiet to think. Perhaps I should try this one later in the morning but when you work, that’s difficult. I ain’t taking any private writings out of my house!

This challenge (well the magazine) came with a wee booklet, which allows for one page a day, for 48 days! I started this morning and went with the “what am I aware of” suggestion in the accompanying article. I’ll give it a go for the rest of the challenge, I’m unsure I’ll get to 45 days, or the effect it actually has on your brain of your well-being. Last time I did my three pages thing, I lasted for about two weeks (you’re not supposed to read it back) and I really didn’t see the point at all.

This morning I wrote about what I was aware of, then reflecged on the crazy dream I had last night. Maybe it will turn into a dream journal and that COULD be interesting. We shall see. One page a day is okay for now.

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