Intense Concentration. (The Creativity Explorer. Episode 188)

The word “mosaic” comes from the Medieval Latin word “musaicum”, meaning “work of the Muse.”

And there is something magical about how making a mosaic connects you with a deeper kind of creativity. Creating a mosaic demands deep attention to what you are doing. The act of intensely focusing on putting piece after piece next to each other to build a pattern has a very strong effect on a person’s brain.

I learned about the creative power of making mosaics from Gozde Tolan, the Founder of the Istanbul School of Mosaic. On a sunny day in Istanbul, I visited her school situated next to the waters in a quieter part of the bustling mega city that is Istanbul.

Gozde told me: “When you are making a mosaic you move into a deep state of awareness. You are concentrating on the tiles, how to fix them, how to cut them. You focus on the color of the stones, how they feel, their texture. When you do all of this you cannot think of anything else. It is intense concentration.”

Gozde told me how her mosaic students come into her studio full of anxiety from all the everyday problems that are storming around in their minds, but when they sit down and do their mosaic, all of that troubled noise is silenced.

Gozde calls this state of mind “intense concentration”. It’s a time when a person is so consumed with a task they need to focus on that the mind goes quiet.

The Benefit of Intense Concentration is that you can express yourself better and feel connected to the present now. And you do that with a totally relaxed mind.

Gozde: “When you are in Intense Concentration, your thoughts are not rushing, in fact, they are not going anywhere. You are just experiencing the mosaic with your senses, but you are not thinking.”

The mind is calm in the same way it’s calm when you meditate, but while meditation is to find calmness by observing your thoughts as they arrive, Intense Concentration is about being so focused that your thoughts slow down so much that they go away. Left is just the focus of putting the next stone down.



Gozde calls this “Isolating yourself from your thoughts.” So why should one do that? Because, says Gozde, “Our active thoughts block our connection to ourselves.”

When you slow down the train of active thoughts, there are no obstacles to your pure thoughts. The true messages from yourself. And that is where your best ideas come from.

Personally, I have found cross-stitching, an activity quite similar to mosaic, to be an activity that makes me practice Intense Concentration to calm my mind and access my connection to myself.

What activity do you have – or what activity could you do – that makes you so focused on what you are doing, that the active part of your mind gets blocked?

How could you practice Intense Concentration?

Would love to know your thoughts – post your comment here.

Fredrik Haren – The Creativity Explorer, sharing insights from a recent trip to Istanbul.




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