By James Razko
Can meditation be used to boost creativity?
You’ve probably already guessed the answer to the rhetorical question above, but first, let’s go over what we know meditation already does. Meditation reduces stress, helps control anxiety, increases self-awareness, sharpens attention, improves sleep, decrease blood pressure, and helps manage pain. And, according to several studies like this one, one form of meditation also increases creativity.
Importantly, research also shows you do not need to be an experienced meditator to reap the creative rewards.
The Two Kinds of Meditation
Focused-attention and open-monitoring are the two kinds of mindfulness meditation, and when it comes to boosting creativity, the latter is the queen.
Open-monitoring vs. focused-attention
- Open-monitoring meditation is a form of meditation where you let the entirety of conscious experience unfold while you observe it without judgments.
- Focused-attention meditation trains the mind to focus on one thing, like the breath or a mantra and excludes all other stimuli besides that one point of focus.
- Both of these forms of meditation reduce activation of the brain’s default mode network. This network is responsible for your sense of self, sense of others, remembering the past, imagining the future, and contemplating social situations— otherwise known as daydreaming.
How it works
Open-monitoring meditation loosens your minds metaphorical safety belt and allows non-related thoughts to bubble and mash together, forming them into something new. This state of mind boosts creativity by enhancing divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is a process of producing as many possible solutions to one problem as you can.
For example, Try to imagine how many ways can you use a paintbrush? The more answers you can come up with, the more creative you likely are.
Why You Should Practice Both Forms of Meditation
In light of open-monitoring meditation’s potential to increase creativity, It may be tempting, especially if you are in a creative field, to never try focused-attention meditation or to favor the latter. However, it’s in your best interest to use both. The unique kind of mindfulness that focused-attention meditation gives you is crucial to thriving in today’s ultra distracted world of smartphones. Learning to focus on one task is an essential tool, especially after creative insights.
Try to use open-monitoring before creative work and focused-attention when you need to complete a task. And sometimes mix it up, so you don’t get stuck in a rut; the creative mind thrives on diversity.
How to Meditate Using Open-monitoring
A quick guide to Meditate Using Open-Awareness:
- sit down comfortably.
- Close or keep your eyes open— closing your eyes helps to focus on thoughts instead of external stimuli.
- To start, expand your awareness to be as wide as possible and observe all the sights, sounds, feelings, and thoughts as they appear in consciousness.
- Importantly, observe all this without judgment.
- And, when you find your judging or thinking about one thing, gently bring your mind back to open awareness.
- Start with 3 minutes and work your way up in time gradually.
Well, that’s all there is to it. It is a simple practice, but it requires one ingredient— practice.
Also, you can practice open-monitoring meditation doing anything. For example, you can practice right know as you read this sentence, by noticing the words, your thoughts arising concerning these words, how your eyes feel staring at the screen, the ambient noises in the room and whatever else, all without judgment, even if this sentence has gotten kind of long.
This kind of nonjudgmental thinking also facilitates peak performance by quieting your ego and letting you non-conscious self perform complex tasks.
Consider adding open-monitoring meditation to your creative toolbox to reap the rewards of a messy, but creative mind.