Being a musician and a guitar player, I’ve found that even creative minds often hit a point in their life where their seemingly endless fountain of ideas runs dry. This is often experienced in the form of a writer’s block or even procrastination. Getting your creative juices flowing once again can often be difficult and time-consuming. Could meditation be the cure we’re looking for?
Everyone has their own theory about what it takes to get back on the creative wagon. Because everyone is different, no scientific study can apply to every single creative mind, but a 2012 study (completed by Lorenza Colzato) discovered the relationship between the benefits of meditation and creativity.
If you’re looking for a way to cultivate your creativity, you may want to apply meditation to this purpose. We already know how meditation has been scientifically shown to reduce stress and increase overall health and quality of life. But how effective is it in promoting creative endeavours?
Monitoring your thoughts
Lorenza Colzato’s research and experiments focused on two forms of meditation and the way they impact creativity in a variety of test subjects. These two types of meditation were “fixed attention” and “open monitoring” meditation.
“Fixed attention” meditation typically deals with the subject’s focus on one particular object or one particular action such as the breath. The second form of meditation, “Open monitoring,” refers to the person meditating being able to take note of their thoughts. In a nutshell, they can realize what thoughts make them happy or sad or any other feeling in their range of emotions.
This does not mean that you have to be constantly thinking about how every little thing makes you feel. It just means being more mindful of your interactions and reactions to the world around you.
What Colzato’s research determined was that open monitoring meditation was extremely effective in promoting what is known as divergent thinking. “Divergent thinking” is often very closely associated with creativity thus linking the meditation style with increased creativity overall.
Characteristics that influence creativity
The second study on this topic was carried out by University of Amsterdam faculty and psychological scientist Matthijs Baas. Baas hoped that his research would better define what characteristics of a person could influence creativity and whether they could be learned or taught. His study was comprised of four smaller studies that were seeking to explore four characteristics of people and how they related to creativity.
These four characteristics included observation skills, acting with awareness, and acceptance without judgement. Each one of these traits were isolated and then tested against the subject’s creativity. From this analysis, some interesting conclusions could be drawn.
Only one quality showed an overwhelming correlation with creativity. Matthijs and his team found that people with an acute sense of observation were also much more likely to have a powerful imagination and a high level of creative ability. The team of scientists surmised that the ability to notice specific details of an object allowed them to create things in their mind with equal or greater detail.
These two studies offer a great deal of practical application of their respective findings. In the case of Colzato’s experiments, we learned that open monitoring meditation can be practiced to bolster our creative juices. As we become more aware of the world around us, and the way certain interactions make us feel and respond, we will also see a boost in our creativity.
Observation can be learned
Although acute observation skills come much more naturally to some than others, it is something that can be learned. Some employers provide their employees with workshops aimed at increasing their observation skills.
Even if your employer doesn’t offer this kind of an opportunity, there are a plethora of online resources for you to utilize and increase your overall creativity. Whether you are a professional in a creative field or even just an artistic hobbyist, practicing mindfulness and a variety of other studied techniques are sure to set you on the right path.
No matter what kind of tricks you may have for avoiding writer’s block or other creative obstructions, there may come a time when you feel that you’ve lost your spark. But if you adopt the practices mentioned in this article, you may transcend these conceptual limitations.
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