top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoseph Arnold

The Influence of the Calculating Mind in the Generation of Creative Ideas & Impulses

Hello friends!

Here's another excerpt from my upcoming book, "Soulforce Arts: The Vital Role of Musicians & Other Artists in a World That's Lost Its Mind." It's from Chapter 1, which is on the "separation-thinking" that pervades our entire society, and which is responsible for many of the ills we see in the arts. Enjoy!

Subscribe to my mailing list to be among the first to know when my book is published in Spring 2023.


Image credit Jackson SImmer


The Influence of the Calculating Mind in the Generation of Creative Ideas & Impulses

“A defining element of the modern predicament is a degree of hyper-consciousness that inhibits our ability to tap into embodied skills and intuitive wisdom.”

Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things

Disconnection from Soul impedes the generation of genuinely creative ideas and impulses, and this leads to dissatisfying artistic results. Soul is the source of genuine creativity, and when connection to this source becomes weak–as has happened among many in our society–artists must resort to other means of generating their ideas. In Soul’s absence, the calculating mind comes to the fore. The calculating mind is the aspect of your mind that focuses on just one thing at a time and is good at following rules. And while it has an essential function in everyone’s life, the calculating mind is a poor substitute for Soul in the creative process.

This becomes obvious when you understand their differences. Soul is flexible and spontaneous, and the calculating mind tends to be rigid and stereotyped. Soul has the ability to make distant connections, whereas the calculating mind has a more limited scope. Soul has a willingness to respond to changing circumstances, and can work with information that is implicit and ambiguous, whereas the calculating mind likes things to be explicit and to go according to plan. Soul is more metaphorical and symbolic, whereas the calculating mind is more literal and concrete. The results of Soul’s activities arrive whole, unbiddened, and are the result of imaginative leaps, but the calculating mind arrives at its results after a linear series of predetermined steps. While the calculating mind can be helpful at certain later stages of the creative process, such as translating a creative idea into a particular format, overall it tends to repress creativity, especially in the early generative stages where more permissiveness is needed.

What does the calculating mind feel like? Here are some signs that your calculating mind has come to the fore:

  • If you are needlessly rushing

  • If you’re concerned about getting it right, or getting the right answer

  • If you’re trying to tightly control the outcome

  • If you’re focused on only one thing at a time to the exclusion of others

  • If you view your creative ideas a means to an end, e.g. you’re concerned about how your ideas will affect the approval of others, your status within a group, how much money you’ll earn from them, or what grade you think you’ll get

  • If you don’t feel emotionally connected to your creative ideas

  • If you feel like you’re just going through the motions

  • If your body is tight, stiff, or strained

  • If you’re unduly holding your breath

  • If your field of vision is narrow and no longer includes your periphery

  • If the creative process feels effortful or tedious

  • If the attempt to come up with a new idea becomes tinged with anxiety: “Will I get a new idea? Will it be a good one?”

Even though it’s obvious to most artists that the calculating mind is a poor substitute for connection with Soul, it is nonetheless the case that the calculating mind has become predominant in nearly all aspects of the arts, much to their detriment.

11 views0 comments
bottom of page