It seems these days that meditation is the magical antidote to all of our ails. It can help us recover more quickly from stress, help reduce PTSD symptoms and even lower levels of molecules responsible for inflammation in the body.
But, how does it impact your creativity?
Studies show that practicing meditation strengthens cognitive skills; different forms of meditation affect different neural pathways and psychological states. Let’s have a look at a few different types of meditation and how they influence creative thinking.
I use the term Mindfulness to mean anchoring your attention to one thing, like the breath. As you notice your mind wandering, you release the thought and bring your attention back to the breath.
Mindfulness meditations retrain attention and focus.
Focus is important during the implementation part of the creative process, when your focus needs to be directed at the project you’re executing. When you are completely focussed on your project, it’s the right level of challenge and you’re able to use your strong skillset, you drop into flow. Time disappears.
Outside distractions pulling at your attention need to be released to get the project done.
Mindfulness meditation can help you maintain sustained focus during this phase of the creative process.
I use the term Mindwandering to mean unanchored thought. Like going for a walk unplugged from media and letting your mind drift to whatever thoughts it wants.
Mind-Wandering trains imagination.
By allowing thoughts and curiosities, you create an openness that allows more sensory information to come into your conscious awareness. Sometimes, this is gently guided by asking “What if…” questions. Sometimes, it’s just a detachment from outcome and allowing a stream-of-consciousness to float by as you watch your thoughts.
Imagination is important during the incubation period of the creative process.
As you imagine scenarios, follow your curiosity or simply notice things around you as your mind drifts, you may just get the insightful aha! moment that you’ve been looking for.
I use the term Loving Kindness to mean a focussed meditation that sends out growing circles of kindness and compassion, a silent wish that others be happy. You start with those closest to you, those you love, and ripple out through friends, acquaintances, strangers and even, eventually, people who have hurt you.
Loving-Kindness meditation trains compassion and empathy.
Studies have shown that simply learning about compassion does not necessarily increase compassionate behaviour. Loving-Kindness meditations have shown an increasing likelihood to act on your empathetic and compassionate feelings towards another person – to help when it’s needed.
Self-compassion is really important for creativity. Judgement blocks the flow of creative thought by inhibiting your thoughts and actions and conforming to the certainty of what is already known.
Empathy helps us develop our emotions and express these through our creative work.
There are many studies and people exclaiming the value of meditation. It is, undoubtably, valuable. However, it’s important to know what sort of meditation you’re practicing and why.
As you can see, too much mindfulness could narrow your vision and exclude imagination.
Too much mindwandering and you may never actually finish your project.
Each has its place.
Want to know more about how you can enhance your creative process, generate more ideas and produce your creative work? I look forward to connecting over a Creative Process Deep Dive session.
Be Brave and Curious,