Understanding the advantages of using light — physical and spiritual — can enhance the creative flow.
"The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light." — s. ajna
The concept of light has intrigued me since I was a child burning bugs with a magnifying glass or watching diamonds twinkle in the sky. In my old age, sitting with the rays of the sun kissing my face, I set about to explore the two dimensions of light (physical and spiritual) and its effect on people regarding writing and creativity.
Without physical light or light in our minds, creativity is stifled. Light is the genesis of all things, from the creation of the universe to the creation of the spark within me.
Definition of Light
I may have learned about light in the fourth grade but decided a peek in the dictionary might be advisable. I couldn’t believe the number of light definitions ranging from nouns to verbs to adjectives according to Merriam-Webster’s website.
However, I think an explanation of physical light will suffice. They state light is the “electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength that travels in a vacuum at a speed of 186,000 miles a second”. When I read this out loud, I was out of breath!
Besides the definition, we can see the visual representation of these wavelengths in the light spectrum showing light ranging from the low-energy red of microwave ovens to the high-energy blue of sunlight.
It is a fact that natural light increases mental and physical efficacy. Light in the blue region of the light spectrum helps me to stay awake and increase productivity. If I am alert, I can get more accomplished.
For example, in the summer when I am writing, I take breaks and lounge on my patio furniture, watching the clouds float by. I sit in the sunlight with my face turned upwards to generate serotonin levels in my brain.
When the optic nerve is stimulated, these feel-good chemicals dance around in my grey matter, which can lead to creative output. (In my humble opinion, that is.)
Often, this state of relaxation allows my creative thoughts to form; I take notes and then go back to work at my desk. Preferably position your desk near a window. It not only allows sunlight to do its job but also, looking at an object in the distance through a window, reduces eye strain.
However, in the winter, especially in Northern climates where the sun is less visible, people can experience seasonal affect disorder (SAD) which is a state of depression based on the passing seasons of the year.
One solution being used to combat SAD is a lightbox. This is a box that simulates sunlight and is placed near your body, such as on a desk. Even the Mayo Clinic backs up the claim that light therapy works and offers suggestions on how to choose a lightbox.
Personally, I will try any scientifically based method to facilitate my creative process when I am stuck staring at a blank screen ready to scream my guts out.
Meanwhile, other studies have shown that low level, artificial, ambient lighting in rooms with no windows is conducive to creativity. The lighting enhanced the perception of freedom from constraints and inhibitions.
This study postulates that idea generation flourishes in dim lights. Therefore, if I am in a room with no windows, I should turn on my lamp instead of the bright overhead light.
During my research, I came across a curious finding of light as a metaphor. According to the study, the mere sight of an illustration of a lightbulb is strongly associated with creative idea generation.
I tested this theory while looking at the picture of a lightbulb which gave me the idea to search online for a lightbulb lamp to put on my desk. Voilà!, I found many examples available with the flick of a click.
Light in the Brain
The second light writers can utilize in the creative process is the light within. This light is subjective; however, illumined people have created works that have changed the world.
Although light in the brain may seem elusive, studies are proving there are certain biologic processes involved when individuals experience a spark of inspiration.
One study reported that scientists tracked the movement of a thought through the human brain as they instructed the participant to think of an antonym for a spoken word. This reminds me of elementary school when I had to read or speak out loud the thing I wanted to learn.
So, when I verbalize my thoughts and intentions, I stimulate specific regions of my brain to work together to search for the solution.
My brain responds by building new neurons and neural pathways. I am rewiring this three-pound mass of electrical activity to produce the desired result of idea generation. Amazing!
This revelation elicited a feeling of joy and elation. Such emotions are conducive to creativity because they widen the scope of my imagination. Emotion (emotere in Latin) is defined as energy in motion which connects my body and my mind.
In my research, I learned that my heart has a composite of about 40,000 brain cells and that the heart neurons actively emit electromagnetic signals. I have brain cells in my heart! This may explain why we experience joy or pain in our hearts.
Also, scientists are discovering the neurons that comprise the emotional brain have executive power and effects thought processes, memories, and present experience. Consequently, when we attach emotion to our thoughts and intentions, ideas naturally flow.
However, I do not believe we can only explain idea generation with neuroscience findings. I have experienced the benefits of meditation and have applied these principles to my creative process with writing.
Before I write, I always meditate for a few minutes using the technique I learned in college called mindfulness. It helps me to focus by noticing what I am thinking and feeling at the moment.
Often, though, the harder I try to focus, my thoughts start to wander. Then, my thoughts transition to racing thoughts. In fact, my thoughts are running a race with each other.
When they line up at the starting gate, I just observe them. I take each thought and place it on a bird, or leaf, or a cloud and watch it float away. After a few minutes, the unwanted thoughts dissipate.
Then, I can discern the spiritual light and listen for the voice of my inspiration, which I call God. Eventually, God’s illumination rises above all the other distractions that vie for my attention.
Understanding the advantages of using light — physical and spiritual — can enhance the creative flow. Incorporating these techniques may help you bolster your writing and tap into your creative energy. I believe when even one writer’s work shines, we all benefit.