Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Creative Solitude

Over the years I have settled into the routine of closing my voice studio the week between Christmas and New Years. Initially, because I quickly realized no one wants lessons over the holidays, but then more so because well, I needed a break!

But eventually this “week off” took on a more specific role – the transition period between the end of the year (Christmas) and the beginning the next year (New Years). I know this is not an accurate reading of the calendar, but for me, this week didn’t be-long in either year. Rather it created a bubble of time in its own sphere. It has since become a breeding ground for new ideas; a period of reflection and creativity.

So my encouragement to enter into 2018 with silence was not completely snatched out of the blue. This “off week” is my allotment of “fertile solitude”, an inner landscape of future possibilities and for an exploration beyond the usual borders.

Human’s are unique in the animal kingdom because their brain gives them the capacity to innovate. Its 1 billion neurons generate a large repertoire of behaviors. Unlike the hard-wired connections in other animals that result in their predictable instinctive responses, the more flexible network of the human brain allows for more supple collaboration and greater mental agility.

In their article Understanding the neuroscience that fuels creative thinking can make you innovative, David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt explain the balance necessary between what we already know (predictability) and what we continuously discover (surprises). Repetition suppresses the intensity of the activity in the neurons creating a path of least resistance. While this is good for habituation and learning, the brain also needs to pursue the “what ifs” of life, a kind of creative speculation.

Eagleman and Brandt offer up 4 important elements of human creativity:

1) regularly take ideas that have been perfected out of the file drawer and reconfigure them into something a little new and different

2) arrive at a solution from many different directions; reaching out beyond the normal boundaries to find other not thought of before options

3) provide an environment that permits failure, where new ideas can be tried and then discarded without fear or judgment

4)cover lots of mental ground, even into the impractical – outlandish ideas today could well be the future

So as you settle into a silence this new year, remember to listen for and pay attention to thoughts and reflections that may lead to the proliferation of creative ideas. The world needs them now more than ever.

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