Creativity and meditation

meditating

Wikipedia’s defines creativity as a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts. (Which, by the way, is much better than Merriam-Webster’s attempt, defining creativity as “the quality of being creative”. In Britain that is called sarcasm.)

But where does creativity come from? I am most creative when my mind is calm and not overwhelmed with thoughts, anxiety or other excessive mind-chatter… usually when I am meditating or engaged in another mindful activity, such as jogging or taking a shower. The creative inspiration appears to flow out of this stillness.

Creativity literature

book
Staples of creativity literature:

  • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius by Michael Michalko
  • Creativity in Business by Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers
  • Lateral Thinking by Edward De Bono
  • Hot Spots by Lynda Gratton

Do you have any recommendations for the list?

Do something different

droplet
The number one way to stimulate creativity is to do something different.Being a rainy morning in London, I thought, why not walk to work in the rain instead of taking the crowded bus – and see if I could notice something new. I never really paid attention to the patterns of the rain hitting puddles before… it is a bit like those random flashes of lights you see on the new years ball dropping in times square. Fascinating.

And just fascinating enough to get me in to trouble when a big red bus drove by and soaked me with a tidal wave splash. Not quite what I had in mind when I sought after a new experience.

What I learned from the incident:

  • Usability tip #1: When confronted with the possibility of large busses intersecting with large puddles in close proximity, watch the road, not the neat patterns of rain-drops in the puddles.
  • Follow-up idea #1: When being splashed by big red bus, reposition your umbrella to face downwards at a 45 degree angle to minimize the damage.
  • Shortcut #1: When about to be splashed by a big red bus, move quickly in the opposite direction from the street.
  • Side benefits #1: The rain-water-bus-splash wakes you up better than coffee.
  • Time saver #1: The rain-water-bus-splash provides a free natural all-in-one method for laundry and a shower. Note – temperature control leaves something to be desired and drying method needs to be reworked.

Daydreaming guide

man sitting

Daydreaming is usually considered lazy, unproductive and childish. As adults, we ought to maximize our productivity and the use of our time. Even worse, the multi-tasker is the modern-day business hero – we are encouraged to multi-task, jumping back and forth between multiple tasks and stimuli at an alarming rate.

Stepping back from this insane drive and getting in touch with our dreams can help us to understand what gets us excited. Daydreaming is free, easy, and relaxing… and opens up a new creative realm where we can free our imagination from the daily rules and expectations.

Idiot’s guide to daydreaming:

  • Find a quiet space.
  • Eliminate all possible distractions. (People, phones, computers, deadlines, etc.)
  • Make a commitment to yourself to refrain from thinking about work and what needs to get done.
  • Take a moment to breathe deeply into your abdomen. Watch your breath for a minute.
  • Watch your thoughts for minute to become even more present. If you have trouble with this, ask yourself, “what is the next thought that is entering my mind?” and observe what comes.
  • Let go. Let your mind wander freely.

Any questions? Shoot me an e-mail. I am an expert.

Joy of creating

art brush

You are a creature that likes to create. One trip to the mall, and the obsession in our society is crystal clear.

But you create much more than just objects. You create your belief systems and how you think of the world around you. Together with your neighbors, you create cultures and communities, which leads into creating concepts like governments, money, and other really abstract ideas. Then someone builds a university to hand down these abstract ideas and ways of thinking. You can even create a life lie.

So doesn’t all this creating make us more miserable? No. I believe that when we are creative, we are open to the possibilities of the universe, thus letting go of worries and attempts to protect ourselves. The worrying sets in once we have stopped creating… out of fear of what we will lose. You can’t lose anything when you’re being creative – that’s the magic of it. As Ben Zander states in his book, The Art of Possibility:

A universe of possibility creates a generative and giving state that produces new life, creates new ideas and contributions where the emotions of joy, grace, awe, wholeness, passion and compassion are abundant. We can use language to create categories of meaning that open up new worlds to explore.

Turbulent thinking

art

When I think of creativity, brainstorming pops out as a natural easy activity. All you need to do is:

  • defer judgment while generating ideas
  • generate as many ideas as possible
  • record ideas as they occur
  • elaborate or improve upon these ideas

In other words, splatter as many off-the-wall ideas as possible up onto a white board without thinking twice about them. To further amplify your success, you can apply the SCAMPER technique:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Magnify & modify
  • Put to other uses
  • Eliminate
  • Rearrange & reverse

And when it’s all said and done, you can create a nice pretty bubble chart for everyone to see.

It almost sounds complicated.

Twisted networks

my brain

I always thought the neural networks in my brain were a bit messed up… nothing seems to connect properly. Apparently this is a good thing when it comes to creativity. One of the best ways to improve your creativity is to increase the random associations in your brain. Finally, the entangled mess in my head is worth something!

You too can be messed up like me with just ten steps for boosting your creativity.

I like the last step:

Exercise your brain. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by reading a lot (see above), talking to clever people and disagreeing with people – arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout. But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.

Although I guess that means I’m stuck doing the dishes.

Out of stillness

explosion

Wikipedia says creativity is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts.

I think that is deceptive, because I find my creativity doesn’t come from thinking. My most creative moments are when I am still, and have plenty of space. The creativity seems to arise from the stillness in between my thoughts, not from my thoughts.

I found another site with resources to expand your mind. It must be a good place, because my favorite blog, the presurfer is listed as one of the hottest mind-altering blogs on the planet.

Creativity vs security

light bulb

Creativity is one of those popular catch words – I hear “creativity”, and I think, “oh, good, I want more of that.” But do I? In general, people are resistant to anything related to change, and creativity is all about uncovering something new. People tend to crave security, holding on to what they have and what they know.

It seems to me, that if we just do the same thing over and over again – we never experience anything new. So would would be the point of living?

On of the best books I have read on creativity, Cracking Creativity, goes in depth into five ways to foster creativity, by:

  • making novel combinations
  • connecting the unconnected
  • looking at the other side
  • looking in other worlds
  • finding what you’re not looking for

Looking to be more creative? Here are some resources for creativity.