Mindfulness for Creativity | Dr Danny Penman

KERNEL MORGAN reviews MINDFULNESS FOR CREATIVITY by Dr Danny Penman, a self help book introduction to the meditative form of mindfulness to assist in eradicating anxiety and stress, I TOTALLY NEED THIS – ever since Dark passed away my anxiety levels have been peeking and life hasn’t been as awesome. I am also happy to discover from reading Morgan’s review that one of the points “unsubscribe from one list every day” is something I have been doing all this week but I am aiming for about 5-10 a day, I have gotten my emails down from about 50 while I sleep to about 20 so when I wake up a lot less crap to delete and action. I also really want some adult colouring books now!!! MINDFULNESS FOR CREATIVITY is out now from the folks at Hachette Australia, it will be available from most book stores or you can obtain it HERE. Enjoy Morgan’s knowledgable review………and relax and take some time for yourself, exactly what I am doing after this article with wine and book in the sun………JK. 


MINDFULNESS FOR CREATIVITY is a self-help book designed to help you adapt, create, and thrive in a frantic world. It contains several meditations, accompanied by a CD guide, to help dissolve anxiety and stress that are barriers to decision-making and problem-solving. This book is essentially a four-week mindfulness program – taking up four of the eight chapters – with three introductory chapters on the general concept and philosophy of ‘mindfulness’ in mental health.

Full disclosure: I am not new to the theory of ‘mindfulness’. I was introduced to the ‘mindfulness’ concept in 2010 and the last three counsellors that I have seen about anxiety and grief have taught me the basics, run through some common exercises, and even provided me with guided CDs by Clinical Psychologist Dr Bruno Cayoun for mindfulness meditation from the MiCBT (Mindfulness integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Institute.


mindfulness for creativity book cover image
Mindfulness for Creativity | Dr Danny Penman | Salty Popcorn Book Review | Book Cover Image


MINDFULNESS FOR CREATIVITY is a beginners book aimed at people who want to optimise their work and productivity. It claims it is easy-to-follow, and it is. Penman uses anecdotes about people and common life problems so laypeople can visualise and relate. He also uses common conundrums, logical thinking problems, and frequently expressed barriers to meditation to give comfort to the reader.

I gave this book a bit of a lower score because for me it was going over old ground and felt a bit padded with waffle. However if you want a great entry into the world of mindfulness, this book is very comprehensive and holds your hand through those initial baby steps. It would be ideal for people that have an aversion to psychological counselling due to the social stigma, but are curious about coping methods for general life and work stresses.

Each of the four practical chapters [Week One: Adapt], [Week Two: Create], [Week Three: Resilience], and [Week Four: Insight] start with a case study of a patient and build upon the problem of rigid thinking – an elderly Jewish lady who spoke figuratively so doctors misdiagnosed her with senility; a classic riddle about a car crash and a surgeon; a British mountaineer epitomising emotional aversion and the ‘inner critic’; and catching monkeys in the hills of southern India to introduce the concept of fruitless loops. The reader is then given a list of Practices (mostly meditations) to do for twenty minutes every day of that week, and a separate section as a written companion to the corresponding track on the CD.

The website that accompanies this book is www.franticworld.com and the book gives ten pages of recommended resources for further pursuing mindfulness, including websites, retreats, books – including Penman’s two other titles on mindfulness, titles on creativity and decision making (eg Kahneman’s THINKING FAST AND SLOW), titles on meditation, health and psychology (eg Harris’s THE HAPPINESS TRAP), meditation and mindfulness, and pain.


Jason King's Cat Dark image
Mindfulness for Creativity | Dr Danny Penman | Salty Popcorn Book Review | I couldn’t find any suitable pics so you get one of my dearly departed cat, Dark.


Things that were new for me in this book were:

  1. The Resilience Meditation of Week Three (Track 4 on the CD). Think of a loved one, then think of yourself, think of a neutral stranger that is just like you, think of someone you are in conflict with (colleague, neighbour, family member), think of all the living creatures in the world, and each time say out loud and repeat the phrases: May they [i/all of us] be safe and free from suffering, May they [i/all of us] feel happy and healthy, May they [I/we all] live with ease, Happy, safe, fulfilled. I am a great believer in the power of saying things out loud, and my major barrier to meditation is that it involves keeping an empty mind and silently thinking thoughts. I liked that this new meditation was verbal.
  1. The Habit Releasers listed in the Appendix (and referred to in the Practices). Things like switching the position of your chair in a work meeting, contacting an old friend, redesigning your workspace, changing the newspaper or magazine you usually read or the radio station you listen to, changing the typeface in your computer documents, take a journey to somewhere new or use a new route, go to a live sporting match of a sport you don’t follow, read a book from a different genre, go to the cinema on your own, go to the theatre and see a play, or deliberately strike up a conversation with a neighbour or someone you consider boring.

From the Habit Releasers the things I really wanted to try were:

  • Rationalise your email: unsubscribe from one list every day
  • Paint or draw in any medium or style
  • Play a children’s game (hopscotch) or with a children’s toy (lego)
  • Grab a dictionary and learn ten new words
  • Go to the park and watch the sky for 30 minutes
  • Dance alone for 5 minutes

There’s a common theme: getting back to the simple things in life you used to enjoy as a child when you had all the time in the world. Don’t make being an adult completely pleasureless. Don’t be afraid of ‘wasting time’ or being frivolous from time to time. It reminds me of the rise in popularity of adult colouring books, which is also an exercise in mindfulness. For just a few minutes a day focus on something that is pure indulgence, connecting your hands and eyes, and experiencing something purely and without distraction.


3 Pops


Kernel Morgan is an author of short fiction, an anthology editor, and a technical writer. Her debut collection was SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS. She enjoys scowling at children and bursting bubbles. She can be tweeted and stalked at @queenboxi.