#4 of 52 Reasons Why
I have been meditating for most of my life (more than 25 years) and I can confidently say, there are way more than 52 reasons why you should meditate, but I shall be sharing some current research, and insights from my own laboratory (my own practice) once a week for the whole year (2021) which you can find here as a post and also on LinkedIn come say hello here!
52 REASONS WHY .. YOU SHOULD MEDITATE
Research has shown Mindfulness meditation practices can enhance three essential skills deemed necessary for creative problem solving:
* improved attention
* ability to switch on divergent thinking
* building courage and resilience in the face of skepticism and setbacks
“For creative thought to arise .. we need spaciousness of mind.
Only then will the dots link up!”
Sarah Fletcher, Quiet Mind Meditation
It’s a little like stepping into that lush forest clearing where there
This is creative thinking.
It was over 30 years ago that the Walt Disney Co. called in Ron Alexander, a meditation teacher, to assist the Creative Design and Development Team “so that individuals in the division could begin to access new creative directions” .. and, after a series of seminars on creativity, reengineering, and revisioning, Disney later opened Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, 3d virtual reality displays and animatronics.
There is a growing body of scientific research focused on meditation and creativity, driven in part by large organizations that live and breathe creativity: think Google, IBM, Nike, and Apple who became rapid and early uptakers of meditation and mindfulness for their teams once they saw that the value was not just as a stress management tool, but as a way to enhance creativity.
Research on Creativity has found that we tend to come up with our greatest insights and biggest ‘eureka’ moments when we are in a deeply relaxed and meditative state of mind. The reasoning is, and we are still at the threshold of our knowledge, is that we have shifted into divergent thinking when the mind comes up with the greatest number of possible solutions to a problem .. and this is a key component of creativity.
“Meditation induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking,
a style of thinking that allows many new ideas of being generated.”
Frontiers in Psychology
Meditation is often referred to as ‘mind-training’, and scientific research has suggested that people who practice mindfulness have more cognitive flexibility (Moore & Malinowski, 2009), and can see beyond what they’ve already done before, and are better at solving problems requiring insight (Ostafin & Kassman 2012). This facilitates what creativity experts refer to as the incubation and insight stages within the creative process (Csikszentmihaly, 1996).
Mindfulness requires that time and attention is directed to the present moment (or problem at hand) which helps turn off the ‘autopilot’ that often directs our thoughts and actions. Mindfulness practice cultivates our ability to direct our full attention to a single focus, and then step away to fully focus on something unrelated .. and it is this shift of attention that allows for ideas to incubate and creative insight to develop.
Mindfulness training’s ability to reduce the fear of judgment is also conducive to creativity; as is its ability to improve working memory (Chiesa, Calati, & Serretti, 2011) and experienced meditators are better problem solvers with improved verbal creativity (Greenberg, Reiner, & Meiran, 2012) and it has been found that meditation of any length can strengthen creativity – even short meditation breaks (Jedrczak, Beresford, and Clements, 1985).
From my personal laboratory? The time that I feel truly tapped into the cosmic flow of creativity is (1) after meditation and (2) in the shower .. and yes, there is even science behind the quite common experience of
I have also had the pleasure of sharing meditation with some writers and artists over the years, along with professional sportspeople and corporate creatives, and received great feedback on pushing through road-blocks and receiving unexpected ‘storyline downloads’.
So, if you’re like me and having a shower throws you into a creative flow .. then I have two suggestions for capturing those fresh new ideas – a waterproof notebook and some kids’ bath crayons (both available in Officeworks). I make sure that I have both of these on hand … because I never know when a creative-download is about to start!
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‘SINGLE NOSTRIL’ MINI-PRACTICE:
Start by settling into a comfortable seated position.
Close your eyes if that feels restful.
Start by just listening to the sounds around you. Notice and allow all sounds to come into your awareness, and then pass by. Try not to judge or engage with any sounds but simply listen for a minute or two.
Then, shift your attention to your breath and where you notice your breath. Take several slightly longer, deeper, and slower breaths, then return to your natural breathing pattern.
When ready, close your right nostril with your thumb (or finger) – and simply breath through your left nostril ONLY for ONE MINUTE.
Pranayama (yoga breath mastery) tells us that breathing through the left nostril activates the right hemisphere of the brain which is responsible for creativity. Alternatively, breathing only through the right nostril will activate the left hemisphere of the brain which performs all the logical and analytical functions.
To finish, return to your natural breath again, breathing through both nostrils, for a few breaths before returning to your day and the tasks at hand.
Note: rather than focusing on some instant creative download after this exercise, simply move about your normal day. Creativity often surprises us, arising when we are walking to the train station or waiting for our lunch order .. moments when we have shifted our focus to something not connected with our need to be creative.
“My secret? I meditate!”
Sarah, Quiet Mind Meditation
Creativity is our theme for February at Quiet Mind Meditation, in our classes and online offerings we shall explore meditation practices and mindfulness exercises to support and nourish our creative ability.
If you would like to discuss bringing Meditation for Creativity to your organization please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Past posts for #Meditation52ReasonsWhy