When we think about creativity, often what comes to mind are images of a painter at her easel, a dancer in his studio, or writers slaving away at their keyboards. Yet creativity influences more than artists. A baker invented the Cronut (thank you, Dominque Ansel!). A surgeon might dream up a new way of doing cataract surgery. A teacher could emerge from the shower with—Eureka!—a genius lesson plan that gets students really excited about the absolute value equations. Creativity can help us do anything better, from parenting to solving community problems, from working to caretaking for our beautiful planet home. For this week’s Healthy Habits, let’s look at a few ways to use meditation specifically for creativity.
- Opening monitoring meditation. In a study conducted by Leiden University, subjects scored better on creativity tests after doing Open Monitoring meditation. In this style of meditation—similar to daydreaming or mind wandering—the goal is to become receptive to every thought and sensation. Study participants did not see quite the same boost from Focused Attention styles of meditation. In this, meditators focusing on a thought or object, like a candle that is burning in front of them. But, meditation overall has been proven to boost creativity, so either one is better than none!
- Switch it up. If you have a regular practice, reboot by changing up the scene. If you usually listen to a guided meditation, give silent meditation a go, and vice versa. If you spend every morning meditating in your living room, move your cushion into your guest room.
- Walking meditation. A 2014 study at Stanford found that creative output was increased by a whopping 60 percent when people were walking, rather than sitting. The researchers note that walking is especially important in the beginning stages of productive creativity, so if you are mulling over the beginning of something, take a meditative walk. Great thinkers through the ages, including Steve Jobs and Alexander Hamilton, have been known for walking and thinking, then having creative bursts of genius.