The following is an excerpt from my latest book, Radical Brilliance. Enjoy!
The creation vacation passes through most of the phases of the Brilliance Cycle that you are now familiar with. You are almost certainly going to enter into the cycle at your destination somewhere in the phase from productivity to dissolution. For all the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, you are not only dealing with accumulated stress and tension built up from your daily routine, but you are also dealing with the effects of travel. Anticipate feeling irritable and out of sorts for the first couple of days.
On the first evening you arrive, get settled in, and lay out all your creative supplies to be easily accessible. Eat a good meal the first night, but don’t drink alcohol. Draw a hot bath or take a hot tub and be in bed by around 9 p.m. Then go to bed. You may have an exceptionally long sleep the first night, perhaps as much as 12 hours.
On your first morning, let yourself sleep as late as you can, and then do some stretching. If you are lucky enough to be by the ocean, go for a swim. Eat a good breakfast or brunch. Remember, don’t get distracted by sightseeing or big excursions, and minimize meet and greet with other guests. Stay off social media and web-surfing.
Then get into a rhythm of sleep, meditate, stretch, eat, soak, nap … repeat. And wait. During a one-week creation vacation, you will stay in this phase of deep rest at least for most of the first day. Even on a weekend, it will occupy the first half of Saturday.
Once you start to feel rested, you will fall into deeper moments of awakening, and you can start to explore moving from awakening to flow. This is the bulk of the vacation. For a one-week creation vacation, this would take up all of days two, three, four, and five. On a weekend, it will start in the middle of Saturday. As you get caught up on sleep, the replenishment of GABA in your brain leads to a natural feeling of well-being, and the capacity to drop deeper in. Cultivate feelings of well-being in your body. The middle part of the vacation is spent in a combination of creative nurturing practices, with frequent pleasurable short reward breaks. You don’t really need to follow a fixed regimen; you can consider this to be something like a playful kindergarten for adults.
You just relax, resting and waiting for impulses to rise. You could do this in meditation, soaking in a hot tub, lying on the beach in the sun, playing in the ocean, playing in a swimming pool, getting massages, or … you fill in the blank. Find as many ways as you can to experience deep rest and relaxation, and then as you start to notice pleasure, energy, and lightness in the body, pay attention and let it expand and grow. You simply start to become more attentive to the little sprouts of ideas and creativity that are wanting to push their way through. This will happen quite naturally, if you are not too social.
Then you can capture this aroused creative energy by taking a walk with the voice recorder, using pen and paper, a video camera, paints, crayons, musical instruments, or any other way of giving it expression.
Every time you have completed something, however small, give yourself frequent pleasurable breaks. So if I complete part of a chapter of a book, I follow it up by sitting in a café facing the beach, staring at the horizon for a while and sipping something nice that has a little umbrella and a cherry. Or I might walk somewhere beautiful. Or, if I am on a creation vacation with my wife, we might retreat together to the bedroom for a while. Whenever you take a break, look for the most pleasurable activity available to you, in the area where you are staying. But go easy on alcohol, socializing, and overstimulation.
You end the vacation in the phase between flow and productivity. For a one-week retreat, this would be the last day. On a weekend, it is just the last afternoon. You are not yet actually doing anything, just setting strong intentions for when you get home. You can plan how you will implement the impulses you captured, and playfully create a list of things to do when you get home. This is also a good time to make plans for how you will take care of yourself after vacation. You might like to make commitments to yourself to meditate regularly, to go to the gym several times a week, to practice yoga, and anything else that works for you.
The creation vacation is a wonderful way to initiate a project. I have found that, whenever I take one, it is the best investment of time of the whole year. It is how this book came into being, by taking time alone to allow these small sprouts to grow into a plant.
I would suggest that before you read any further, make some plans: think about when and where you can take at least a weekend, or preferably a week to experiment with a vacation like this. I send all of my serious coaching clients off on a creation vacation: doctor’s orders!
After you try it once, you may find, like me, that a regular old vacation, complete with alcohol, sightseeing, shopping, and dancing late into the night, no longer looks quite so attractive, and you may get to enjoy a creation vacation so much more.