A date with yourself

Going to a museum or a play on our own: it’s something we should do more often, according to mindfulness expert Danny Penman. 

Penman calls it a creative date because your creativity is engaged when you step out of your daily routine and do something fun. “Anything that is new – it can be a museum exhibition or a workshop in watercolor painting, flower arranging, whatever – helps to get you thinking out of the box,” he says, “while you are also being fed new ideas, knowledge and images.” And yet, inspiration alone is not enough – letting go, says Penman, is equally important. In that moment of relaxation when you are meditating, sitting on a bench outdoors or walking into a new room in a museum, your brain starts processing information and associating freely. At some later moment the ideas will bubble up from your subconscious.

It’s the classic tale of scientists and artists reaching their most brilliant insights in those moments when they weren’t focusing at all. As Mozart wrote in one of his letters: ‘When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer – say traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep – it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best, and most abundantly.’ Forcing yourself to focus on something, which I often do, appears to have an opposite effect. Creativity needs time, rest and space.

Photography Getty Images