How to Improve Your Creativity With This Simple Meditation Technique
Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay
Meditation will not stop your thoughts and kill your ideas
Creativity never behaves the way we want it to. The moment we need ideas is when we go blank. We may have all sorts of trivial ideas throughout the day, but when push comes to shove, we get nothing.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love says that creativity resides with godlike entities. “It makes as much sense as anything else I have ever heard,” she says, describing creativity as a process that “does not always behave rationally. And, in fact, can sometimes feel downright paranormal.”
That’s not the answer anyone of us is looking for. According to HBR, every job asks for creativity. Whether you are trying to reconcile conflicting stakeholder priorities, finding a solution to a customer’s issue, or launching a new product line, your solution probably won’t come out of a textbook.
So what are people doing to ensure more innovation and creativity? They’re meditating. Meditation is the solution of choice for major companies like Google, Salesforce, Goldman Sachs, and many more, to open doors where once there seemed to be only a wall.
3 Essential Creativity Skills That Meditation Builds
In his book Mindfulness for Creativity, Danny Penman argues that mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practices enhance three essential skills necessary for creative problem-solving.
- Divergent thinking: Meditation opens your mind to new ideas
- Improves mindfulness and attention: Meditation snaps you back in the present moment to easily determine the usefulness and novelty of ideas.
- Resilence: Meditation builds resilience that every creative person in the world needs when being pushed back on their innovative ideas.
And to the delight of these companies, they found that all this can be done in as much as 12 minutes.
To test this, an experiment at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands was set up. 129 students were divided into three groups and asked to generate as many business ideas as possible for drones.
One group participated in a 10-minute guided mindfulness meditation. The second group was asked to let their minds wander for 10 minutes and the third group was asked to start brainstorming immediately.
Each group came up with roughly the same number of ideas but the meditators had a much wider range of novel business ideas. On further analysis, meditators showed a 22% wider range of ideas than the two non-meditating groups.
Moreover, meditators signaled decreased feelings of restlessness (by 23%), nervousness (by 17%), and irritation (by 24%).
What’s Really Happening
The easiest reason behind the link between meditation and creativity is its calming effect on the mind. Our minds are usually muddy, filled with thoughts and emotions. These emotions prevent us from generating ideas just like radio static prevents us from listening to the right program.
Essentially, we’re using an altered, higher state of consciousness to generate ideas. When we’re in that state, ideas start emerging out of nowhere. Thomas Edison used a version of this technique and it worked well for him — he has 1093 patents on his name!
He’d sit in a chair with a steel ball in his hand and a saucer placed beneath. Just as he was about to fall asleep, the ball would fall to make a loud sound and wake him up. In that state of sleepiness, he’d find solutions to problems he was struggling with.
What Edison did was go into the subconscious mind. What we’re trying to do with meditation is access the superconscious mind. From that state of consciousness, we’re able to access inspiration and our intuition blossoms.
“Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha”
The great master Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras said yoga is the neutralization of the whirlpools of feeling. These feelings of the heart and thoughts in the mind are what prevent us from receiving the inspiration we want.
Intuition, which everyone wants, comes from the soul level. It’s ever-present and only waits for our perception to be refined enough to receive it.
To do this, Paramahansa Yogananda gave a wonderful technique. It’s how I usually come up with ideas. I use this whenever I feel stuck in writing or solve any problem in life. Before the technique, let’s understand more about it.
According to the teachings of yoga, the point between your eyebrows (the frontal lobe of your brain) is the center of concentration and willpower. It’s also called the spiritual eye. The heart chakra (Anahat) is the center of feelings in the body.
As a way to access higher inspiration, Yogananda taught that the spiritual eye is the broadcasting station and the heart is the receiving station. When you send out a strong thought from the spiritual eye, you receive the answer in the heart.
The key here is concentration and willpower. Since our minds are perpetually distracted, you can’t halfheartedly think about a problem and expect to receive an answer. We need to direct all our energy toward that thought at the spiritual eye.
The second aspect of the technique is to feel the answer in the heart. And that can be done only when the heart’s feelings are calmed.
Stilling the mind and calming the feelings in the heart is the main purpose of meditation. The more you do that, the more clearly you’re able to receive answers to solve life’s problems.
I admit that this technique seems a little woo-woo. But you need to be willing to try. Test it for yourself and keep doing it. People of low will don’t accomplish anything.
At first, you’ll not get many benefits. But the more you calm yourself, the more clarity you receive. This intuition is also like a muscle. It improves as you practice using it.
Most people think that meditation is going to stop their thoughts and suck their creativity out of them. It’s quite the opposite.
If you think of your mind as a lake, meditation is just calming the waters to remove all ripples. This helps you experience the depths because that’s where all knowledge lies, waiting for our discovery.
Finally, don’t take this article as an excuse to start “thinking” in your meditation. Your meditation should not be about solving a problem or generating ideas — it should be about getting calm and as still as possible.
Once you come out of your meditation, then use that uplifted state of concentration and willpower to find creative insights into situations.
You’ll be amazed at the effectiveness of the technique. You just have to start trying.
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