No mind

“When I improvise there’s no mind. I’m just there. I fiddle around. It’s like a painter would do, just fantasise a little bit. I’m not thinking about this shit, it’s just something I do. Mind messes everything up. When inspiration starts, rational thinking stops.”

Thats Joe Zawinul talking about his creative process from an interview published in SOS magazine back in June 2003 and that ‘no mind’ state intrigues me, since it appears in a number of other unique circumstances.

Mushin is a mental state into which very highly trained martial artists are said to enter during combat. The term is shortened from mushin no shin, a Zen expression meaning mind of no mind. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.

Am I talking about music or the meaning of life? Yes, no, maybe… but some of those buddhist words of wisdom could easily be describing music:

“The river has no shape, but it takes on the boundaries which it carves out for itself,
so is the mind boundless, until it creates a prison for its own thoughts.”

To the mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.

Lao Tzu

While attaining the no-mind state takes considerable focus & practice, the state of being in the flow is related & is perhaps a step down the same road…. There is a great article here: In the zone: enjoyment, creativity, and the nine elements of “flow.” Of the nine elements discussed, number 7 is particularly relevant: Self-consciousness disappears. When I was younger I felt far more self-conscious than I do now, and maybe thats just a part of growing up. I remember having one of those great, random, deep conversations with a complete stranger on a plane, about how as you grow older you eventually reach an age where you simply become comfortable in your skin. It takes a certain amount of time, but I would also presume, a certain amount of experience, of living…

A couple of videos worth checking out: the first by the author of the book discussed in that article; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, on creativity, fulfillment and flow

And a video of a presentation by David Lynch: Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain:

Food for non-thought?

One thought on “No mind

  1. Sébastien Orban

    I’m doing a little work on this state of mind… Lot of interesting things in the books of Csikszentmihalyi, but to be honest, we can find this in nearly every book on music, plastic art, and so on.

    Still, meditation is not my things !

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