The key answer, he says in a Forbes magazine interview, is meditation. I personally have been practicing transcendental meditation for years now, so I really got along with this article. He expands:
‘You sit, eyes closed, and turn your attention inward. You focus your attention on an immediate experience, perhaps your breath or a mantra. You become more aware of yourself as a body breathing. When thoughts or emotions come up, you observe them with curiosity, openness and acceptance. Then you bring your attention back to the present. Each moment is a new experience. You enter an intense state of relaxation and alertness.
What does this have to do with producing hit records? According to Rick Rubin, a lot…
…“Many people don’t listen,” Rubin told me. “If you listen carefully, people explain to you what it is that they need.” Rubin gets artists to open up about their deeper motives. “I’ll spend time with an artist and listen very carefully to what they tell me and get them to talk about their true goals, their highest, highest goals,” he said. “We’ll go back to the heart of why they started doing what they are doing in the first place… …“The more time you spend being quiet and looking in, your intuition grows and you trust it more,” he said. “Messages come if you’re looking for them. Through meditation I developed the skill to know what to ask for. It’s like a knowing….”
…How to give feedback without making people defensive is one of the biggest leadership challenges. For Rubin, it goes back to non-judgment. “When I’m giving criticism, it’s very matter-of-fact, like analyzing a math problem and questioning whether this is the best formula to get to the answer that you’re looking for,” he said. “I’m helping them through this discovery process and questioning whether this is their best work. And as a fan I can say, ‘I don’t believe this is your best work.’ Now, again, that’s as a fan and that’s my opinion. There is nothing in stone.” Meditation takes baggage out of feedback, says Rubin—the ego, the I-know-better-than-you, the judging—all the things that trip up managers when they give feedback.’
These meditation concepts are over thousands of years old. They apply to life as a whole. Meditation is a major stress reliever, as we need to relieve stress to quiet the mind and engage in pure consciousness (or “The Quietude,” as I like to call it). When we relieve stress and look inward, we clear out our egotistical thoughts which normally dominate our daily lives. Without those clouded ideas and motives, we are more free to live, interact, and create from a pure place with objectivity in mind. Beyond that, with more practice, there are much deeper results from meditation. Mainly, intuition grows stronger along with the ability to recognize and trust it. There are many ways to cleanse the spirit and train our minds, but meditation has been very efficient and affective for me. You can check out Rubin’s full article here.