01 June 2020

In times of need, how best to boost creativity – drugs or meditation???

Taking the next big steps in history has always required substantial doses of creativity. As we all lurch forward in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is our own creativity up to it? What can we do to boost our creativity and respond in a creative yet effective manner?

Steve Jobs created Apple – and lauded drugs to stimulate creativity; LSD and marijuana in particular. Both for himself and for his staff. Yet he also meditated a lot. So this week, we go Out on a Limb once more, compare different pathways to creativity and detail 3 great possibilities. Enjoy the trip…, but first

    Thought for the day 

Taking LSD was a profound experience, 
One of the most important things in my life. 
LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, 
And you can’t remember it when it wears off, 
But you know it. 

It reinforced my sense of what was important
—creating great things instead of making money, 
putting things back into the stream of history 
and of human consciousness as much as I could.

                                         Steve Jobs

Sources of creativity 
Seems like there are 4 main ones - trauma, necessity, drugs and inner experiences (most reliably accessed via meditation and contemplation).

Many draw on suffering for creativity; or find suffering generates creativity. The tortured artist is a real thing – simply look at just about any modern art! But let us not wish this avenue to creativity on anyone; maybe just celebrate it when it happens almost like some form of compensation or happy side-effect.

Did you grow up with this too??? “Necessity is the mother of invention”. I did and it is true, yet what is the process that activates invention and creativity? Seems many get stuck with deep seated needs and fail to find answers; what helps with break throughs?

Many indigenous traditions have used drugs in a ritualistic fashion to open the mind and launch

LSD, ganja or marijuana, peyote, psilocybin, magic mushrooms…

There is quite a list, yet the key point is traditionally these drugs were used ritualistically, not recreationally.

So then we come to Steve Jobs.

The master of cool. The master of minimalist, beautiful design of great objects that do their job. Apple stuff looks good and it works. It has an elegance, along with a high level of functionality. A rare combination.

So the man… We know from Steve Jobs’ biography and via FBI files on him from the days when he needed government clearance to work on Pixar that as well as being a serious meditator, he had been a serious drug user.

Throughout that period of time [1972–1974] I used the LSD approximately ten to fifteen times,” Jobs is quoted to say.

I would ingest the LSD on a sugar cube or in a hard form of gelatin. I would usually take the LSD when I was by myself. I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience.

Jobs also smoked marijuana or hashish, or ate it cooked into chocolate brownies, once or twice a
week between 1973 and 1977.

He employed many maverick types at Apple, especially in the early days when he was chasing innovation, and he seemed very warm to their drug use.

So let us be clear.

I have never taken LSD and am not advocating its use. However, what Jobs’ usage points to is that creativity often flows out of an altered state of mind. What has interested me for decades is how we might tap into that same altered state of creativity - independently of drugs.

And a spoiler alert. Speaking personally, virtually all my creativity, all my good ideas, all my clarity of direction have come out of meditation and contemplation. So how do we tap into our own creativity more directly?

4. How to develop more creativity - directly courtesy of your own mind

i) Meditate regularly

Yes – it is as simple and as difficult as that.

When we do meditate regularly, the practice takes us past the confines of our ordinary,
day-to-day thinking.

Regular meditation expands the mind;
expands our awareness.

Creativity flows naturally, effortlessly.

What we need to accomplish this flow is the self-discipline to do it – regularly, and the confidence it will happen – the confidence that over time, our creativity will flourish when needed.

It is as simple and as difficult as that.

ii) Boost creativity with contemplation
The contemplation that works for this purpose has 2 components.

Firstly we active think about a topic that needs a creative solution. If you need help how to actually do this most effectively, my latest book, Blue Sky Mind offers techniques.

But more than, we balance the active thinking with periods of stillness. Regularly in this practice we let go of the Active Mind and wait for insight and creativity to arise and become apparent – from within the Still Mind.

This is my own go to method and it has served me exceptionally well over many decades. Well worth experimenting with…

iii) Use Creative Imagery
It is possible to use the Active Mind more directly to foster creativity. In common usage, brainstorming and mind mapping are expressions of these techniques and if you want pointers here, better go to The Mind that Changes Everything where specific techniques are detailed.

So it is possible. Without trauma or drugs we can expand our minds, generate heaps of creativity and solve challenging problems.

Speaking personally, the is a strong intention to make these techniques available to our current youth.

Heaven knows they will need them…

Happy meditating…

Blue Sky Mind

The Mind that Changes Everything

Downloads for Relaxation, mindfulness and meditation available in both Ruth and my own voices



One of the very best ways to learn something is to teach it. All being well, Ruth and I will lead a training for meditation teachers keen to teach contemplation. It is one of my very favourite programs to present and hopefully will go ahead as planned …

MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING   with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler

Ian and Ruth have been teaching teachers of meditation for decades. This is a unique opportunity to learn from them directly in two 5 day residential trainings – Module 1 on meditation, Module 2 – contemplation. Attending both modules will meet the requirements for provisional membership of the Meditation Association of Australia. Both trainings will be highly experiential and be based upon comprehensive manuals.

Venue     The Yarra Valley Living Centre,  55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria

Dates     Meditation Teacher Training 3 - 7 Octomber 2020 : Full details  : Click here

          Contemplation 7-11 September, 2020  ;  Full details :  Click here

Inquiries  and Bookings   Call 1300 651 211 or www.gawler.org


7 day Residential Meditation Retreat with Ruth and Ian Gawler and Melissa Borich 

Modern culture has taught us to look externally for solutions to feeling better… substances we can take, new and exciting experiences, the acquiring of new ‘things.

However, to regain balance and cultivate reliable, sustainable joy, we learn to go within.

Meditation provides real answers.

And all of this amidst the nurture and beauty of the Yarra Valley Living Centre…

Dates     Saturday 14th to Friday 20th November

Venue   The Yarra Valley Living Centre, 55 Rayner Crt, Yarra Junction, Victoria

More details   CLICK HERE

Inquiries and Bookings    Call 1300 651 211   or  www.gawler.org

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