Creativity is about way more than just ideas. When we meditate — when we rest in awareness — we are resting in creativity; we are creating the conditions to move through life effortlessly, from one situation to the next, with a sense of freedom. With this, there comes a sense of purpose with fluidity, and a sense of direction with ease. Everything changes and we change with it. Through the eyes of meditation, this is what it means to be creative, whether or not you are creating ideas or a piece of work.
In accessing this resourceful place within us, we get to experience the flow state where the mind is calm and undistracted, allowing us a clearer view of what lies beneath our thoughts and feelings … and it’s in this place that creative-thinking thrives. Meditation and creativity go hand-in-hand.
However we view creativity, we have all experienced those moments when an idea has dropped out of nowhere into our minds. It’s also fair to assume that many of us know the pressure that comes with someone telling us to “get creative” and we draw a blank.
Most of us know by now that we can’t just show up and expect creativity to do the same. Even the most naturally gifted artist will tell you that creativity isn’t a switch to be flicked on and off — it’s an energy that has to be tapped into and exercised.
Creativity and the brain
Many of us have heard of “left brain vs right brain.” The left brain is practical, logical, analytical, and rational. The right brain is where we dive deep to access our more conceptual, imaginative, and innovative thoughts. Western psychology has taught us that in order to be creative, we have to tap into the subconscious parts of the right brain, as if this is some kind of golden archive filled with creative material.
In meditation, this isn’t the case. There is just the one mind. Granted, we don’t always notice some of the creative thoughts bubbling away, but they are there — in the very same place as our conscious thoughts. They are not stored in a separate compartment. There is no special key. All we need to do is become aware of them. With awareness, we discover access. Once we understand that creativity spans both the left and right hemispheres — connected via a thick band made up of about 200 million nerve fibers called the corpus callosum — we can use creative-thinking as a problem-solving tool or a way of expressing ourselves; or it can be used imaginatively for a piece of creative work.
Can meditation make us more creative?
There is a meaningful relationship between meditation and creativity. Creativity uses the mind as a whole, and meditation helps strengthen the mind in order to bring about more creativity. So how do we become more aware of the creative thoughts bubbling beneath the surface? Well, think of the mind as a lake. When busy, every active thought impacts the surface like a pebble tossed into the water. The more thoughts, the more overlapping ripples. Before we know it, the surface of this lake (our mind) is full of movement. The lake has lost its stillness.
Beneath the rippling surface is where our creative, inspired thoughts lie — they are just harder to see because they are obscured by all the surface movement. Using meditation for creativity can calm the surface and help us discover what lies beneath. It’s then that our creative inspiration has the room to float to the top and be seen. Training the mind with meditation for creativity and focus can teach it to find the spaciousness that our creativity requires to thrive.
Watch this one-minute video on Training the Monkey Mind.
How can we meditate for more creativity?
In a 2014 study, researchers asked participants — both experienced meditators and novices — to meditate for 25 minutes before doing tasks related to thinking. The findings showed that you don’t need to be experienced in order to benefit from meditation. In fact, meditation can have a long-lasting influence on how we conceive new ideas.
In particular, two forms of meditation have been shown to enhance creativity: open-monitoring (a technique that involves observing and noting phenomena in the present moment with unrestricted attention) and focused attention (concentrating on one object, ignoring other stimuli). Together, these meditations stimulate important creativity drivers. Open-monitoring meditation stimulates divergent thinking, a form of thinking that generates creative ideas by exploring a multitude of solutions. Trying to brainstorm creative uses for everyday items such as a paperclip? That’s divergent thinking hard at work. For its part, focused attention flexes the convergent thinking muscles that help formulate workable solutions.
Try this guided meditation for creativity…
If you’re ready to put those creative muscles to work, it’s time to try a creative visualization guided meditation. Whether you’re tapping into your creative juices for the purpose of writing or art, or you’re trying to creatively problem-solve, this enhancing creativity guided meditation may help. Take a moment to get comfortable, keeping the body upright and relaxed. Eyes gently opened, with a soft focus as you become aware of your surroundings. Once you’re ready, take in a few deep breaths — in through the nose and out through the mouth. When you’re ready, close the eyes on an exhale, allowing the breath to return to its natural rhythm.
Then, settle back into the space around you. Become familiar with the different sensations and sounds. After a few breaths, bringing the attention back to the body. Check in with the body, scanning for any sensations of discomfort. Remember the intentions behind your meditation today. Shift the attention to your breath as you become more familiar with your body’s reaction to the breath. Where are you feeling the breath? Focus on the rising and falling sensation of the breath, and as you continue to watch it, imagine a tiny speck of light in the middle of your chest. This speck is your creative spark. As soon as you realize it’s there, it begins expanding outward in every direction. This bright, spacious, light speck continues to expand, first toward the edges of the body, then beyond the body, into the space around you.
Imagine this speck going beyond your immediate surroundings. It’s expanding within the city, perhaps the entire country, continent or planet. Allow this space to continue expanding as far as your mind can imagine it to go, as if there is no limit. Imagine this while still being aware of your breath moving in and out through the space. Allow the mind to rest in this space, free of any expectations. Feel the breath moving in and out and just rest the mind. Let go of any focus and allow it to do whatever it wants to do. Gently begin bringing the attention back to the body: feel its weight, notice the sights and smells of the space around you. In your own time, gently open the eyes and maintain the posture for a few seconds. Take this time to appreciate giving yourself these minutes of recharging your creative mind.
This article was shared by Headspace