Meditation has been found to be extremely effective for many of our modern problems. Studies have shown that it can help increase your creativity. If you have ever tried meditation, you understand the benefits of how it relaxes and centers you. Seen as more of a spiritual practice in the past, it is clear that it can be extremely helpful in our day to day lives.
Creative business coach Mark McGuinness meditates for 20 minutes a day before he starts work. He focuses on his breathing while doing so. He has found that he gains focus, patience, calmness, clarity, and insight. He isn’t the only one in the business world using meditation. The likes of Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and many other highly successful people that depend on their creativity use meditation before they start their workday. Here are 5 ways that meditation increases creativity.
Meditation and How it Works on the Brain
There are three parts to the brain that work together in order to get your creative juices flowing. The reptilian part of your brain is your oldest part. It covers breathing and automatic things. The limbic system is where your empathy and emotions can be found. Then there is the Neocortex which is the newest part. It is the most advanced part of the brain. We are capable of being aware of ourselves like no other species. This is why we can learn language, paint, play music, and write screenplays.
The limbic and Neocortex system will both activate to search for solutions. The limbic looks to past experiences to find the best solution. The Neocortex analyzes everything and is looking for a rational answer. Interesting, the limbic system comes up with answers faster even though the Neocortex would perhaps come up with a more rational answer.
1. Effects on the Neocortex
Meditation is a work in progress. It trains you to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It trains you to be in the moment. The Neocortex is the part of the brain that controls your awareness. When you meditate, you train this part of the brain to become stronger. Meditation on a daily basis will allow you to make better choices. You can see bad habits and analyze the things you’re doing right in your life and things that don’t serve you. It is the newest part of the evolution of our brain. It is in charge of things like:
- Solving problems
By strengthening this area of the brain, you will be better able to reach that creative aspect of yourself.
2. Managing Emotions
The limbic system in the brain is where our emotions, memories, and motivations live. If we are stressed out, anxious, sad, or emotionally unstable in any way, it’s the limbic system that is affected. We become so busy managing the stress that we feel, we are unable to think creatively. In fact, anxiety takes away the sense of clarity we require for anything.
As the limbic system is in charge of memories, you may be getting triggered by past pain and hurt. This is what causes all that anxiety. When you meditate, you are able to get down to the heart of your past pain. You can look at the things coming up in you and begin to process them so they don’t affect your life on a daily basis. This may take some time but eventually, it frees up your mind so you have the ability to be more creative.
3. Relaxing the Fight/Flight Response Part of the Brain
Again, being under any stress will cause you to lose creativity. The reptilian brain is the part of the mind that helps our survival. It was extremely useful in activating adrenaline when we were being chased by predators back in the day. It’s the part of the brain where our fight/flight response lives. It is only concerned with dealing with what is critical to our survival. It may overreact to the modern world quite often.
Instead of running away from a wooly mammoth, it releases cortisol into the body when you’re worried about not managing your day to day tasks. When you have too much cortisol in the body, it can begin to change the brain and prevent effectiveness in anything. When your brain kicks into fight or flight response, everything tenses up. Your stomach shrinks because the body is ready to take action.
If you constantly have this part of the brain on edge, you aren’t able to focus on creativity because you’re focusing on survival. The breath work you do through meditation will help you work past this system. As you relax, you counteract what this part of the brain has done. Meditation asks that you focus on the tension in your body and release it. A relaxed body means the other parts of the brain responsible for creativity will function more optimally.
4. Brings You Back to a Childlike State
Meditation has the ability to clear out all the old energy that may be holding you back. When you focus on going inside, you reduce anxiety and open your heart up. This can make you feel raw and vulnerable like you did when you were a kid. A child’s state of mind is the ultimate manifestation of creativity. When you are able to let go of all the things that get in the way of that childlike mind, you gain back a playful part. You bring yourself back to a state of consciousness free from fear. So go ahead and do some finger painting.
5. Cognitive and Psychological Benefits
When you meditate, studies have shown that you improve your ability to concentrate on tasks. You become more empathetic and introspective which is where that artistic part can be explored. These are important for your creativity. You improve all functions of the brains capacity which really frees you up to think in a creative and innovative way.
Be playful with your practice and focus on various ways to meditate. The benefits will start to appear quite quickly when you reduce stress and tap into the parts of your brain responsible for creativity. Whatever your creative passions are, they will be amplified when you maintain a meditation practice.
Guest Blogger: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential training in India (Rishikesh, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali). You can take a look at her website here.