Nachmanovitch (2014) provides a great look into improvisation with examples from scholars, mystics, and his personal experiences. The text is generally focused on understanding improvisation and creativity based on where it comes from, the type of activity or work that is being done, and what can come out of it. The text provides many examples and thoughts that can help to “serve as a block-buster, a wedge for breaking apart creative blocks… The only way out of the complexity is through it. Ultimately, the only techniques that can help us are those we invent ourselves” (para. 22).

There were many new topics or ways of understanding the problems that I had never been exposed to before. Nachmanovitch (2014) discusses the Buddhist state of samadhi, which can be added to many activities. This concept describes when somebody is in a state that is selfless and absorbed with absolute concentration. It is very much disappearing into the work and creation that we are doing. I know for me that as I think about mindfulness and trying to be in the moment, I want to find ways to entering this samadhi. This seems very much an experience akin to what Csikszentmihalyi (2014) describes as flow experiences “the well-ordered, fully functioning dynamic state of consciousness” (p. 216).

In his description of making mistakes, Nachmanovitch (2014) does not shy away from describing the problematic nature of creativity and improvisation. He likens it to the oyster’s creation of pearls or how there are sometimes accidental things we have done that allow us to see things in a new way. That one of the powers of mistakes will enable us to reframe blocks and change our way of thinking creatively. There are times when I am creating digital art of some form, that I will try to recreate some different times. I find that after I have done it over and over (often each time either slightly or significantly modified) that I will find a way that I like and can build on that.

I hope to find more opportunities and ways to play. I can tend to be pretty focused in my life in the pleasure of attaining something and can miss out on the German word that Nachmanovitch (2014) offers, funktionslust, as they please or producing an effect or doing. To be able to dive further into the muse of my inner child.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Nachmanovitch, S. (2014). Free play: improvisation in life and art. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher. Retrieved from


This essay was submitted as a discussion forum post for TSD 8014 - Creativity and Personal Transformation.