Today we are going to be looking at how to use meditation for creativity, the benefits of meditation for creative people, and how you can use these techniques to boost divergent thinking.

Increased creativity is one of the best cognitive benefits of mindfulness By meditating in the right ways you can enhance your creative brain and unleash your artistic side. Along with the article, I’ve also written a helpful guide to mindful writing

 

Link Between Meditation And Creativity

According to Harvard Business Review, meditation works to enhance creativity and innovation, which is precisely why so many executives are starting to meditation. But just why, exactly, does meditation, the process of focusing the mind on the present moment, improve your creative thinking skills?

 To understand the link between meditation and creativity, we have to understand what both creativity and meditation are.

Creativity is “the use of skill and imagination to produce something new or to produce art,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Psychologist John R Hayes called it, “the potential of persons to produce creative works.”

It was previously believed that creativity was performed solely in the right hemisphere of the brain. But recently, science has discovered that there are many neural networks involved with the creativity process.

In particular, there are three key areas of the brain involved with creativity. Together these regions are called the “Creativity Network”. They are:

Salience Network: A large scale network in the anterior insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex that is involved with complex brain functions. The salience network plays a pivotal role in our motivation to act. Studies show that when this network is blocked our creativity is inhibited.

Default Mode Network:  This is a large network of multiple brain areas that are active when we are at rest. When the default mode network is active we tend to recall memories, daydream, and think about different things. The Default Network is involved with “constructing dynamic mental simulations based on personal past experiences” according to neuroscientist and psychologist Randy Buckner.    

Executive Network: A large scale network that monitors and resolves conflict between responses, feelings, and thoughts. This is active when concentrating, problem solving, planning and switching.

Creativity is the result of these three networks working together, according to a research report by Harvard and published in NeuroScience News.

So what happens to these networks when we start using meditation for creativity?

Firstly, what is meditation?

Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on an aspect of the present moment. There are many forms of meditation, including Buddhist meditations, yogic methods, breathing techniques, mantras, mudras, music, and specific guided meditations for creativity. You may have seen some of the meditations of leading experts like Tara Brach, Jon Jon Kabat Zinn and Pema Chodron. 

There are significant benefits of meditation for creativity. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Neuro Science reveal that meditation increases intrinsic functional connectivity in the Creativity Network. Therefore, meditation directly improves the brain functions that produce creativity. So how do you use meditation for creativity?

Let’s take a look at the best types of meditation for creativity.

 

Best Types of Meditation For Creativity

meditating improves creativity
open meditations improve creativity

1: Pure Awareness:

This is the best meditation for creativity. This will improve the left side of the brain. It’s a relaxing exercise in which we practice open-awareness.

  1. Lie down on the bed or on a matt. Make sure your spine is straight and that your neck is relaxed. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for five to ten minutes. Watch the breath as it moves through the body. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and relax your mind. 
  2. Listen to the sounds around you. Listen in a nonjudgmental fashion, without thinking. Allow the sounds of the world to enter your mind freely without resisting them. Aim for complete acceptance and awareness.
  3. This is the basic open-monitoring meditation. Try it now. Ideas will flow into your brain.
  4. If you are new to this type of meditation, you will find it very helpful to read my book Your Best Meditation. It goes into depth with easy-to-follow guides to all the most important meditation techniques.

 

2: Pure Vision:

Another excellent method is Pure Vision, which is especially good for visual artists who want to improve their creative thinking skills.

  1. Find somewhere relaxing and tranquil, perhaps a seat in a quiet park or somewhere scenic.
  2. Sit comfortably with good posture. Place your feet shoulder distance apart. Sit with a straight but relaxed spine. Lightly lower your chin to elongate your neck. Breathe in through the nose. Relax.
  3. Look at the colours and shapes around you.
  4. Look at how light plays on various surfaces. 
  5. Explore the scene with your eyes.
  6. Spend twenty minutes mindfully observing the visual world.
  7. If you are a visual artist this is going to do you huge favours. It is the best cure for artists’ block.

 

3: Five Senses Poetry:

This is a beautiful creative technique that improves artistic skills by making us more aware of sensory information (which can be a real terrific of inspiration)

  1. Find a scene you would like to write about.
  2. Now observe everything about the scene through your senses.
  3. Pay attention to sight, sound, scents, feelings and sounds.
  4. Write a poem which includes the use of all five senses.

 

 

4: Chakra Dhyana

It’s an excellent idea to use chakra meditation for creativity.  Specifically, this is done through Svadhisthana, the second chakra, which is the energy center for your artistic side. Svadhisthana can be translated to mean “Dwelling place of the self”. It’s the sacral chakra, located below the navel and it is related to the element of water. When prana flows freely through Svadhisthana, it will significantly enhance pleasure, abundance, well-being, and creative thinking. 

Have you ever wondered why we lose creativity? One reason is that life and stress prevent the flow of prana through Svadhisthana, stopping creative energy from flowing. Return the flow of prana to the sacral chakra to increase artistic abilities.

 

5: Ida Nadi Breathing

Another great meditation for creativity is Ida Nadi breathing. 

  1. Close the right nostril with the two fingers of the right hand
  2. Take one breath in through one nostril
  3. Breathe out through the other nostril
  4. Continue alternating until you have taken 6 breaths through each nostril

 

6: Mantras  

Another way to activate the sacral chakra and boost artistry is by using a mantra. The correct mantra for creativity is VAM. Chanting this mantra vibrates Svadhisthana and brings it into balance

 

 

The Benefits of Meditation For Creativity

If you want to improve your mind, one of the best ways to do so is to train yourself to be more artistic. Meditation can help. It can make you more creative, more artistic, and more imaginative [speaking of which, here is a guide to imagination exercises].

There are some seriously significant benefits of meditation for creative people. If you’re an entrepreneur, for instance, you can use mindfulness you to come up with new ideas for business. And if you’re an artist, you can use it to with more original paintings, composition, or whatever type of art you create.

But even if you’re not an entrepreneur or artist, it’s still worth meditating. Your visionary mind is a powerful tool in all different areas of life. For instance, consider this:

There are also health Benefits of creativity

I could go on.

The point is, there are lots of benefits of being visionary. And one of the best ways to enhance it is with mindfulness.

Which meditation for artistic skills?

Here’s a little secret: you shouldn’t just do any old type of meditation. Scientific research reveals a bizarre relationship between meditation and creativity. It turns out certain types of meditative exercises make us less innovative, where other types are very beneficial. This is because there are two very different varieties of meditation: Open and Focused.

Being creative is about thinking in different ways. The more flexible our thinking, the more artistic we will be. To be innovative and inventive, we need to be good at divergent and convergent thinking. [6] Convergent thinking is a problem-solving skill, and divergent thinking is the ability to formulate new ideas.

The problem—in fact, the reason most people aren’t that creative—is that the mind naturally gets stuck in one way of looking at things. As we go through life, we begin to look at things in one way. We have an idea of ourselves, an idea of other people, and an idea of the world around us.

As most people age, they become closed-minded [7]. Pablo Picasso said, “Everyone is born an artist. The trick is staying an artist when you grow up.” But how do you stay an artist when you grow up? The trick is to see the world with open eyes and an open mind. Meditation helps because it opens the mind and helps us to formulate new perceptions and new ideas.

be creative open your mind
To be more creative, open your mind

In 2012 Scientists researched the effect of meditation for creativity. Cognitive psychologist Loenza Colzato studied the link between different meditations and creativity. Specifically, he looked at how meditating effects divergent and convergent thinking. [8] What he discovered is that different methods of meditating have different effects on our divergent and convergent thinking. 

Meditation improves our divergent thinking skills.

Divergent thinking is the ability to look at the same thing in different ways. It is usually tested via a method called the Alternate Uses Task, in which the participant creates as many different potential uses for one object as they can in a certain amount of time.

Some meditations improve creativity by making us better at “convergent thinking.” Convergent thinking is the ability to take different objects or ideas and bring them together. It is tested through the Remote Associates Task method [9]. In the Remote Associate Task method, participants are given three different words and asked to find the one unifying factor. For instance: Pen, Keyboard, Typewriter = writing. 

Colzato taught his test subjects two different types of meditation: focused and open. (In open techniques we focus on the overall environment. In focused methods we focus on one thing).

Colzato discovered that “Open” meditations boost creativity. If you want to be more artistic and innovative, you need to open your mind. And that is precisely why most of the traditional methods of meditation (such as most Buddhist methods) are not helpful (in this one way). Most techniques involve focused attention; a method in which we focus on one thing. Focusing on one thing, however, does not open the mind.

thinking outside the box
To be artistic we need to think outside the box

An example: Imagine I’m writing a novel. I’m sitting at my writing desk staring at the blank page. I’m meditating on it. But I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do next. And because I’m only focusing on the page in front of me, there is nowhere for me to get inspiration from. So being too focused is not helpful in this instance. That’s what happens when you do a focused attention meditation. It doesn’t help creatives.  It’s not going to cure artists’ block /writers’ block.

But what about the very opposite? The very opposite is open monitoring. This is where we are aware of everything around us. I’m writing my novel and I’m meditating on everything. I’m aware of my entire surroundings. That means information from the outside world is freely flowing into my brain. There, it merges with my ideas of my novel, creating new thoughts and ideas. To give an obvious example: I see a puppy outside. I think, “Holy cow. A puppy would totally change my novel”. But in order to think that I had to be aware of both my novel and the puppy. Being focused on one of those two things would not have solved the problem.

Creativity requires divergent thinking, which is why the best type of meditation for creativity is open monitoring. This technique improves the flow of new information flow into your mind, creating myriad ideas and inspirations that are perfect for artists. And this does cure artists’ block and does encourage left-side thinking.

Conclusion: We need to do open monitoring. 

 

In this guide, we have looked at how to use meditation for creativity, and you’ve learned how meditation can make you a more artistic person. We’ve also looked at the scientific benefits of meditating for innovativeness too. And you might also like to read my guide to using yoga for creativeness.

I hope you found this guide helpful. I’d love it if you would write a comment, share and subscribe.

 

 

SOURCES:

3: Study: Creativity Can Reduce Stress — And Become A Habit, Owen Poindexter, http://reset.me/study/study-creativity-can-reduce-stress-and-become-a-habit/

4: Using Creativity to Build Self-Esteem, NOVEMBER 10, 2015 FAY AGATHANGELOU, https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/11/creativity-to-build-self-esteem

 5: The Link Between Creativity and Happiness, Elizabeth Hopper PhD, HealthyPsych, https://healthypsych.com/the-link-between-creativity-and-happiness/

6: Divergent Versus Convergent Thinking, Olga M. Razumnikova, Cognitive Physiology LaboratoryState Research Institute of Physiology SB RAMS, Novosibirsk State Technical UniversityNovosibirskRussia https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-3858-8_362


7: Changes in cognitive flexibility and hypothesis search across human life history from  childhood to adolescence to adulthood  Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/114/30/7892.full.pdf


8: Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking, Lorenza S. Colzato, Ayca Ozturk and Bernhard Hommel, Institute for Psychological Research and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00116/full

9: Remote Associates Test: https://www.remote-associates-test.com/

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Written by Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.