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If you look at job advertisements closely, you will notice that the most used word in them is creativity. Some people are naturally creative – but what if you’re not? Is there anything that can help you boost your brain into finding its creative self?
It seems more and more people are turning to meditation. Proven to aid sleep and manage stress, regular practise can help quieten the mind and provide a platform to unlock creativity.
So, what is creativity? According to Thomas Edison, it is 1% inspiration and 99% transpiration – however, this definition is far from illuminating!
Creativity is the ability to renew and develop. People’s creativity has quite literally changed the world – from great writers and architects to the inventor of the telephone. When the mind is relaxed through meditation, creativity flows. Think about it for a minute. Have you ever had a brilliant idea in the shower? These ‘light-bulb’ moments come when we least expect them. Thus, we could perhaps say, that creativity is just a series of moments of inspiration.
Inspiration and therefore creativity – and great writing – come from clarity of the mind. It could be argued then, that meditation sufficiently quietens the mind to allow us to notice the presence of things that were already there. Thus, our biggest moments of inspiration come when we least expect them.
If you meditate with the intention of becoming a more productive writer, you have already focussed your mind and the clarity will automatically be clouded. Meditation is best practised without a pre-set ‘agenda’. A relaxed mind will greatly enhance our creative powers. Meditation, if done correctly, will tune down the analytical and logical parts of the brain. It can be seen as an inner ‘reset’ button.
However, meditation is frequently confused with various forms of concentration. The purpose of concentration exercises is to focus our full, undivided attention on a specific aspect of our mind and body in order to accomplish a certain goal or develop a certain skill.
In contrast, meditation is an exercise, aiming to prevent thoughts in a natural way, by deeply relaxing the physical body and then trying to keep the mind completely "blank" with no thoughts whatsoever.
Through experiments using practised meditators, Herbert Benson, a Professor at Harvard Medical School, discovered that meditation counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system – that part of the brain that gives humans the desire to fight or flee in any conflict situation. While primitive people needed this response in hunting situations, today it is the reason for many of our everyday stresses. It is becoming increasingly difficult to switch off and just be in our ‘always on’, uber-stimulated world.
During meditation, blood flow is directed to the parasympathetic nervous system instead. This is the part of the brain that triggers relaxation, a slower pulse and energy conservation, the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system.
Meditation is an art that needs to be learnt – through regular practise. You won’t be good at it immediately and you don’t need to be ultra ‘zen’ either. You just need ten minutes a day. I like to meditate first thing in the morning, before I start my day. You can either sit or lie; I sit - it stops me falling asleep. You can either mentally relax every nook and cranny of your body, or you can go onto You Tube and download a free guided meditation. Pop it on, and relax into it. Just remember to turn off your phone and shut out any pets or children. This is ‘you’ time. If you find that you fall asleep, try sitting on a chair in front of a lighted candle and just focus on the flame.
If you do it regularly, you will notice a difference. Whether it releases your creative juices or not it is a brilliant way to start the day. And frankly, if it was good enough for Einstein, then it is more than good enough for us mere mortals.
Antje is Careers Content Editor with Brand Republic, and has been a print and broadcast journalist for 20 years and a PR specialist for the past 10. She has managed accounts for high profile clients such as Heinz, Vauxhall and More Than. She writes regularly for various newspapers and magazines including The Times, the Metro, Countrylife and Marketing.