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Artists and art lovers alike have gathered the evidence to support their belief that unless you are filled with angst like Bob Dylan, Alanis Morissette, or Ernest Hemingway, you might not be able to tap into your creativity. Even Socrates and Plato historically took “melancholic habitus” (a sulking holiday) in order to fan the flames of their creative minds.
It’s understandable how in today's analytical world you might think that this evidence proves angst and unhappiness are the fuel required to create. I'm excited to share with you that meditation actually provides the same opportunities to boost and fuel your creativity without the downside of angst, such as stress and unhappiness which often lead to poor health, both mentally and physically.
Creativity is multifaceted; we have the brain level, as well as the creative process itself. The process usually involves inspiration followed by action. Where does the inspiration come from? If I was able to look into the brain, I would not find a storage space filled with poems waiting to be written or art bursting to be put on canvas. Where do the ideas form? How do they get manifested? Creativity looks different for each individual.
“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Perhaps it isn't the angst, the sadness, or the morose mood that inspires creativity but the things that happen when we are sad. Sadness can make us more focused and diligent; we tend to withdraw and have a little retreat. Quite often when you’re unhappy, angry, or taking a melancholic habitus what you're really doing is finding space to be alone.
Meditation is commonly practiced in space alone. And even if you are meditating with a group, it’s the practice that takes your attention inward. Studies in neuroscience have discovered that solitary and inwardly focused reflection employs the brain differently and we use a different network then when we're focusing outward so meditation is a tool for inward focus. In fact, our best ideas come when we are not engaged with the outside world.
Intuition arises from unconscious, or spontaneous, information-processing systems, and it plays an important role in how we think or reason. It also plays a big role in creativity. If you are constantly questioning yourself rather than trusting your instinct, it's impossible to be spontaneous which is deeply attached to creative freedom. Experienced meditators know that they develop a heightened awareness and they begin to see a series of spontaneous right choices in their lives. This self-trust fosters the freedom to follow the creative thoughts without judging the process.
Studies have associated mindful meditation with many cognitive and psychological benefits, such as:
- Improved task concentration
- Sustained attention, empathy, and introspection
- Enhanced memory
- Improved learning
Many of these are central to creativity. Neuroscientists who study creativity have found that creativity does not involve a single brain region or even a single side of the brain, as the “right brain” myth of creativity suggests; instead, it draws on the whole brain.
The second chakra, Svadhisthana, is known as the chakra for creativity. The mantra sound that corresponds to this chakra is the sound “VAM.” By chanting VAM, the vibrations will open and align this chakra. The color is orange and the gemstones for this chakra are amber, calcite orange, carnelian, or hematite.
5 Tips to Increase Creativity through Meditation
1. Be playful with your meditation. Overthinking kills creativity and keeps your mind outward rather than inward.
2. Plant seeds, but then let the universe work out the details. Maybe what you want is a great idea for your novel but you aren’t meditating with the purpose of attaining the idea. You can have the thought that your meditation is awakening creativity but after that thought is planted, like seeds in the garden, you just let it grow. No digging it up to see if it’s growing. Just trust that it will grow—that your idea is already sprouting.
3. Try guided meditation if you usually practice silently. The “awaken your creativity” meditation here is a great choice, and one of many you can find that aims at tapping into your creative mind.
4. Try silent meditation if you usually listen to guided meditations. Or try a group meditation in your city. The energy of group meditation is very different than individual meditation. Sometimes change is exactly what’s needed to rev the creative engines.
5. Be mindful outside of meditation. Creativity comes in many forms. Your personal style, how you plate your food, or how you deliver reports at work all require creativity. Put your attention on creativity and watch how it blossoms. Heighten your awareness of where you are creative to train your brain to think creatively.
Remember: Creativity isn’t reserved for certain people who are more inspired or unique, it’s in us all just waiting for a chance to come out.
“Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” – Eckhart Tolle