Creativity is a big part of our lives.
Some leading thinkers in this field - Sir Ken Robinson and Elizabeth Gilbert - are two people who believe it's incredibly important - we agree with them.
We believe that to be human is to be creative. These two words are synonymous.
Whether it was drawing, dancing, making music or building cubbyholes and tree houses, if you think back to when you were little you loved to create right? We know we did.
As we grow older our passion to create gets left behind, and this has turned out to be a little bit problematic. Research has shown that when we enter the realm of creativity we can experience present moment awareness, which leads to a sense of calm.
Mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce cognitive rigidity in both experienced and beginning meditators.
In a study where participants had to use simple problem solving skills, those who had training in mindfulness and meditation showed less cognitive rigidity than non-meditators . In others words, meditators showed a greater ability to generate new ideas.
Having ideas vs. not having ideas can influence a whole day. When it comes to solving problems at school, at work, in the kitchen or with friends, having the ability to 'think out of the box' is an incredibly useful skill to have.
So, how can mindfulness and meditation promote creativity?
Remember that stressing part of the brain called the amygdla? When that part of the brain kicks in to gear more than it should, our creative abilities can become blocked.
How you ask? Think about it like this - If your brain spends all its time worrying, stressing and being controlled by its 'fear' center because of feelings of distress or emotional imbalance, it doesn't have a lot of time to do much else - this includes your ability to be creative.
We learned above that regular meditation can help generate new ideas - when we pay attention on purpose, aka be mindful, the 'fear' response is deactivated, generating room for creative thinking.
We know - amazing, right?
Researchers discovered a connection between mindfulness practice and an improved ability to filter out distractions during creative tasks and processes.
Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness have been found to correlate directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning .
So, we have a question for you - ever find yourself reaching for your phone, a tablet or a game controller when you feel the slightest bit of boredom? It's starting to be a common thing, causing lots of us to get off task.
To be mindful is to recognise this habit and then make a decision from this space - "do I really want to do this right now?"
Applying this to our lives.
You may now be wondering how being more creative can actually impact your day-to-day life, and you're right to be asking this question. Whether it's trying something new, drawing, painting, playing a musical instrument, reaching your goals, dreaming up your future or working your day job, creativity is an important part of getting you where you want to be.
You're asked to make decisions every day. Igniting your creative thinking and allowing it to reach each dimension of your life will not only benefit you but others too.
1. Greenberg J, Reiner K, Meiran N (2012) “Mind the Trap”: Mindfulness Practice Reduces Cognitive Rigidity. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36206. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036206
2. Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition , 18 (1), 176-186.