The Experience of Being Creative as a Spiritual Practice: A Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Study

By Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
The Method
of Inquiry

When I first began to think about exploring creativity and spiritual experience, I considered studying the similarities and differences between meditative and creative states through an experimental method. I soon came to feel that while such a study may have been interesting, it wouldn’t have tapped the essential felt-nature of creative practice as spiritual experience that I am most interested in exploring.

The field of creativity research has been dominated by traditional experimental methods. Physiological correlates of creativity have been found to include an increase in alpha-wave activity and brain synchrony. There have been numerous studies delineating the attributes of the ‘creative personality.’ Some studies have even correlated scores on Hood’s Mysticism Scale with those on Yonge’s adjective checklist, pointing towards a relationship between mystical personalities and creative personalities. Many studies have shown that meditation, hypnosis or psychotropic drugs can enhance creativity.

Yet, the experimental method itself limits the nature of research findings by it’s assumptions of objectivity, causality, and distance from everyday life. The essential felt-sense of the creative process has not been thoroughly explored. As opposed to asking what causes creativity, what attributes the creative person may possess or what characteristics an object of creativity may have, it is important to ask how creativity is experienced, and how it makes sense as a lived experience.

Because the field of psychology has sought validation for itself by grounding its tradition in science, the predominant mode of psychological research has been the experimental, behaviorist method. While this may have been

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