Sense your life for true creative power

If you know me well you totally get that I have a sciencey side and a philosophical side. I love science and read books on science for entertainment, and I also study psychology, hypnotherapy, counselling, NLP, mysticism, culture and spirituality on an ongoing basis as a part of my work.

Now hey, I’m not one of those tinfoil hats who browbeat strangers on the bus about knowing Jesus or Jung or Buddha, or how alien government secret societies control your mind or how science and religion are polar opposites. Nothing so loony. At the same time I freely promote the idea that there is more to life than meets the eye or the brain, to anyone that asks me what I think. It’s my own personal take on life, and 90% of the time what I believe or don’t has little or no relevance to everyday conversation.

Besides I’ve always been suspicious of people who tell you too freely what they believe. Believers or Non-believers who are too verbal about their faith or lack of it always strike me as answering a question I didn’t ask, of perhaps protesting too much. I always thought it was more important to convince yourself of what you believe, not everyone else around you. But that’s just me, and I digress.

At this time of year there is a lot of pondering, a lot of inward looking, even for those who have no specific faith or creed, and I’m sure this is true of you too. The end of the year makes you review the year past and postulate about the year coming. Its a way of processing events and preparing for the new ones coming down the track.

Rather than start doing syrupy Christmas messages, although I am a sap about the holiday season and unabashedly so, I thought I would go for some deeper thoughts about creativity and ways to prime yourself for creative success in the coming year. Now, the sorts of things I am about to discuss can seem a little leftfield to some and I realise that it’s possible that these kinds of thoughts could be misconstrued as spooky or mystical.

It’s true if that’s your bent you can read a lot into such things and if that’s your leaning there can be milage in doing so. But that’s not the whole message, intent or engine behind what I’m suggesting. You can do this whatever you know to be the truth of life, and I think you’ll notice that once you do these things they will mesh seamlessly with your lifestyle or personal beliefs.

Okay enough preamble. How can you program yourself for success and creative outpourings over the coming year. This is my gift to you this holiday season, my entire philosophy in a nutshell. Use it wisely, or ignore it, or keep it safe for reading again once you’ve digested it a little bit – the choice is yours. I don’t mind what you do with it, but please at least do me the respect of reading it just the once with an open mind. Who knows you might notice how easy it is to wander outside your comfort zone in complete safety. That’s nice, because it means you trust me. That is your gift to me.

1. See – Visualise
Do you ever stop for a while and try to visualise your successful project coming to fruition? I know it might sound foolish but it’s a very powerful tool which people have a tendency to overlook because it seems too simple. There are many disciplines which promote visualisation as a primary tool for change and growth. In areas as diverse as art and creativity, body building, medicine, sports, psychology, and even business there is a lot of evidence to suggest that creative visualisation programs the mind better than any kind of therapy, training, coaching or any kind of verbal preparation. Your brain is a computer which runs on images. Feed it programs it can process. Visualise the project you have in mind, even sometimes before you fully know what it is. Relax and close your eyes and see the project being completed and see yourself enjoying the process. You will be amazed at how programming your brain in this way improves your success rate.

2. Hear – Silence
A crucial thing people don’t have nearly enough of is peace and quiet. The tendency these days is to never go longer than a few minutes without some kind of input, usually sound or noise. What are people so afraid of? Boredom? Silence itself? It’s like the modern equivalent of monsters under the bed or in the closet in the dark. The way people act you would think that silence is a fearsome monster to be thwarted by noise at all times. Some people even sleep listening to music or the radio. When is your brain ever going to rest? How can you create anything if you are constantly receiving input? Take even as little as 10-20 minutes a day to sit and contemplate nothing. Seriously, try it. Any thoughts that enter your head, brush them lightly aside and empty your mind. Only once your mind is empty can you fill it again from your creative reserves.

3. Feel – Trust
Trust your instincts. Instinct is a powerful human tool which reminds us of our animal past. We have so saturated ourselves with noise that we can’t hear our own voice within telling us what to do, making suggestions or giving us ideas. We need to retrain to listen to the voice of our own unconscious. But more than that we need to learn to trust our true instincts uncoloured by our prejudices and ideas about who we think we should want to be. Sometimes we are not our true authentic selves but a version of ourselves which we would like to pretend to be to the outside world. Only by trusting your instincts often and having those instincts validated will teach us that we can trust our own voice.

4. Smell – Sensitise
Don’t bombard yourself with sensory input, try to detoxify yourself from the fact that everything in 21st Century life is turned up to 11. TV is too loud, food is too fatty and salty, the Internet is always on and you will never read it all or experience everything. This constant barrage of input will over time desensitise you to the subtleties of life, of your senses. If you dull your senses by overpowering them then how can you experience the full beauty and range of your actual life? Consider some kind of detox like a juice fast. If I were you I would get a juicer and juice fruit and vegetables and live mostly off that for a few days. You will find soon that everything tastes so much richer and more gorgeous and over time you begin to crave healthier foods. This can not only be good for your health but radical breaks from your routine resensitise you to life. If you experience life you can write about it, paint pictures, write songs etc. which pass that richness of experience on to others.

5. Taste – Savour
And finally for goodness sake enjoy yourself. Don’t just scarf life down like it was fast food, take a moment to roll it around your mouth before you swallow. Chew things over a little before you digest them. Start to notice things about yourself and your environment which you like and don’t like and be honest about that to yourself. Make sure your life is the way you’d like it. Someone who is unhappy in life is a poor creator, their stories are full of prejudice and hatred, their art is expressing discomfort and emotions and thoughts coloured by their lack of authenticity in life. Take the time to figure out who you are and what you want. Don’t just go along with what’s going on because you don’t have time or can’t be bothered to change or be assertive about what you desire. Taste your life.

There you have it. This is my gift to you this holiday season, the bulk of my philosophy in a brief. As I say it’s up to your what you do with this. Use it wisely or use it unwisely, the choice is yours. I promise you even doing just one of these things will expand your creative options and ensure a positive new year . . . whatever your beliefs.

My beliefs? They, my holiday season friend, are a closely guarded secret. 🙂

Happy holidays, and if I don’t see you before have a glorious time.

Influenzpiration and Music Therapy

and other stories about how to get THERE from HERE

So, wow, where did February go? It’s flown by, or in my case FLU by. After completing the work on my writing course and sending it off to the potential publishing partner for approval, I heaved a sigh of relief, which quickly and unexpectedly turned into a heaving cough. After a week or so of the worst influenza I’ve had since the Beatles had all their own teeth, I was done in.

I suppose I had it coming. As a person who likes to keep in touch with his body, monitor my various body states and keep in tune with my senses and surroundings, I should have known I’d slump after working so hard and long hours and NOT (I freely admit) taking very good care of myself. I paid the full price with no discount for former good behaviour in the form of flu.

My senses were all but dull thudding appendages, touch was painful, my hearing a muffled roar, my sense of smell gone, my sight blurry and my mind, a previously orderly stack of what I’ve done and what needs to BE done… was like a library full of sacred texts besieged by mischievous squirrels.

Every time I closed my eyes I found myself having conversations with fictitious persons, having tea with them on occasion, and my following vague moments of lucidity were wasted thinking “what the HELL was all that all about…?” So I swerved in and out of proper consciousness, but in my coherent and pain free times I tried to read and watch films. God bless the Infinite Internet for your twinkly endless trove of information, ideas and inspiration.

Oh and god bless Apple’s little iPad and your flu friendly interface, an easy to browse device for those not in their right mind, and durable enough to slide out of my insensible, palsied, and sweaty hand onto the bedroom floor without breaking (unlike my mind which was brittle as sugar glass) the facts I learned and the ideas I had all too readily shattered into a hailstorm of unreadable shards, leaving painful needles in my brain rather than useful thoughts…

Then I slept for days on end. Feverish dreams of writing and teaching, hot sleepless nights of twisting in the covers, trying to find the one cool spot to bring me otherwise elusive solace and peace.

Then one day to my surprise I woke, dry, refreshed and actually conscious. I walked to the bathroom, washed and shaved with a fresh blade in gorgeously hot soapy water. I dried myself on a warm laundered towel and changed into cool dry and fresh clothes and sat drinking coffee and looking out over the river to the library, the March weather turning both cool and warm air currents colliding over the town into a pleasing, mysterious fog.

A week had passed, along with it my 52nd birthday. In my feverish state on that day, I remember being unable to write (and alone because my grown up children live at home but had plans of their own which didn’t include their ailing father) and it came back to me. I spent my birthday making an album of vintage synthesiser re-workings of Claude Debussy’s “Children’s Corner”. Ahem. Wow.

Yes I know, what curious glitch of my poor overheated cranium made me think that would be a good way to work off the fever? Folly! But listening back to the recordings I was astonished to find them quite good. I sequenced them using MIDI files of piano performances, to avoid my own fumble fingered playing ruining the thing, and rendered the performances on vintage synthesisers (or computerised simulations) and arranged and mixed them, and the results were very satisfying. If you are curious what the flu doing the rounds at the moment does to a creative man’s brain, go here to and download for free and listen for yourself. I even designed a cover to look like an old vinyl LP. A pretty productive day considering I was in truth half dead.

Download a free copy of my influenza inspired flight of nostalgia here
Claude Debussy’s Freakout Corner by Phil South

Ok it was a bad idea as I suffered for it painfully later on for not resting fully. I’m sure it added another couple of days to the fever. But it’s interesting to me where the mind goes when in retreat.

But where did the idea come from? I recall I watched a video at one point which had the (definitely non-PC these days) Golliwogg’s Cakewalk as the soundtrack and it set me off. What was that tune? Then I found out it was Debussy and that it was part of the Children’s Corner Suite historically commonly played for children. Of course then, I was played it as a child in school in the early 1960s. A scratchy old record. Along with Saint Saens and Peter and the Wolf and John Philip Souza’s Liberty Bell. So many memories…

So it was my birthday, and that always sets off all kinds of childhood memories, even when I don’t have a temperature of 101. Then I remembered Wendy Carlos and her “Switched on Bach”, and the vinyl records of those I had just last week found and played. And the weird old Nonsuch Guide to Electronic Music that had been such an ill advised piece of flu inspired entertainment earlier in the week. Surreal blips and blops in my ears while I slept.

But then it came to me, inspiration! I would make an album of music in the style of Wendy Carlos, but based on what music? The Debussy of course…

Well, that’s how I got there. I know it doesn’t make sense, but then inspiration NEVER does, only maybe internal sense. And in mitigation neurologically speaking I was impaired, the brakes were off in any of the usual ways I stop myself free associating. And as someone who just finished writing and recording a course in how to access your consciousness to improve your creativity, this should have come as no surprise to me. But hey cut me a break, I was ill.

Hope you enjoy the Debussy as much I enjoyed making it while off my trolley.


That’s enough music, next time I promise there I’ll be back up to strength and we can talk more about writing and how to turn yourself into a creative genius.

See you next time.