We've attributed our creativity to gods and muses for millennia. Julie Cameron's best-selling books still refer to God as the source, even though she acknowledges that some of her readers may not believe in her God and will have to substitute their individual senses of a higher power.
We have all used the phrase,"It just came to me," or similar words, to explain a creative thought. The thought was unexpected, perhaps off-the-wall—it wasn't our usual way of thinking, didn't "feel" like us. So it must have come from, or been sent by, some source outside ourselves.
We often use another type of phrase to describe the creative sensation itself—"I lost myself in it."
Our sense of self exists in several different forms. One form is how we've learned to view ourselves, almost always primarily a negative view. Another form is the self we create for others to view, almost always a self that we hope will cover the warts, blemishes, and general unworthiness of our own sense of self.
We mistakenly label another form as being "self-conscious,"when we believe others are seeing through our constructed selves to our "real" unworthy selves. We're not conscious of our selves at all then, but of the projections we place on others.
When we're in the creative self, what we're losing are all those other ways of thinking about ourselves. I consider that form to be another state of being, when we lose the conscious sense of self in whatever we're creating.
I had a student who was a psychotherapist in private practice, but also a clinician available to students and faculty of a college. He was slated to give a lecture at the college. I don't remember the exact title, but I went to hear what I expected to be a talk about different states of being. It was, in a way, but it was his drugs-and-alcohol lecture.
I was disappointed, at first, until I realized that his comparison between the state of being when we're under the influence of drugs, and when we're not, described very well my own state of being when I was either teaching or performing, and when I was not.
All those other forms of self are painful, to one degree or another, so we sometimes choose drugs to lessen the pain.
During their adolescence, when my children were experimenting with drugs, I attended an apartment-warming party at which one occupant's friends gathered in one room and the other's friends settled in another room. I felt uncomfortable, alienated by several decades from either group. So I accepted an offer of my first and only reefer, with the belief that I'd understand its appeal to my children. I sat in the doorway between the two rooms, smoking, still aware of my alienation, but comfortable in my isolation.
The creative state of being may not be comfortable, but it's where we find joy. To lose one's self may be scary, but that's how we find our true selves.