How Meditation Stimulates Creativity
It might surprise you to hear that meditation can kickstart your creative process. After all, meditation is about getting chilled, right? Well, yes, meditation is often recommended for calming the mind and reducing your stress level, but it also has a physical effect on your brain. But how does this help creativity?
Meditation and Your Brain
The simple act of regular meditation frees up the parts of your brain that deal with memory, focus, and cognitive ability. Research has shown that the act of meditating stimulates the high-frequency brain waves that signal attention and perception—all qualities associated with creativity.
The Creative Brain
You probably know that your brain is a complex machine. It has built up capacity over millions of years, but not all the historical layers are as useful as they were when humans were hanging out in caves, alert for the sound of sabre-tooth tigers.
The ‘newest’ part of your brain is the neocortex. That’s where the creative stuff happens: Envisioning, problem-solving, creative thinking, and strategizing. Great and useful for the modern world, right?
But there are older parts of your brain that deal with survival (the reptile brain) and emotions (the limbic system) that can prevent the neocortex from getting on with its job. If you’re stuck in fight or flight mode due to lots of stress, or if you’re emotionally out of balance, those parts of the brain dominate and don’t allow your neocortex to get a look in. And that makes sense because if you are confronted with immediate danger, you need all your survival instincts working. But this response is no longer so useful in the twenty-first century. Bottom Line, if you’re stressed out and unhappy, your brain figures you don’t have the luxury to get creative.
Meditation as a Circuit Breaker
Modern life has a way of keeping you permanently wired, with your reptile brain and your limbic system constantly overstimulated. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation is not just calming during your meditation session, it can reduce the hypervigilance of your reptile brain, even out your emotions and stimulate your neocortex. Mediation helps get you out of rigid thinking modes and allows you to start thinking in more creative and innovative ways. Cue better visioning, problem-solving, and strategizing.
Meditation calms down your entire neural system and makes sure the neocortex gets all the resources it needs to get your creativity flowing.
When in Doubt, Take a Step Back
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘being too close to the problem’?
Too often, when someone is confronted with a challenge, the initial urge is to ask an expert. After all, who better to figure things out than someone with a wealth of knowledge and expertise at their fingertips?
Remember, while the experts are great at telling you what the expected solution is, they aren’t always the best at digging out the most creative solution. Sometimes they get rather caught up in the trees themselves and are no longer seeing the forest.
The most creative approach usually comes from the person who’s able to step back and view the situation as an outsider. This dispassionate view allows room for ideas to grow and creativity to blossom. To get this view? Ask yourself what a stranger would see if they walked into this situation.