What do some of the big companies like Google, Nike and Facebook all have in common? They see meditation and mindfulness as an integral part of the creativity and innovation process. They recognise that the benefits of meditation don’t stop at just reducing stress, but create happy employees who are more productive and inspired. In fact, research suggests that meditation can improve job performance, work engagement and job satisfaction. Productivity is great, but what about creativity. How does meditation create more ideas and innovation?
Meditation and the creativity.
Meditation has been shown to strengthen the pre-frontal cortex . This is the area of the brain that is at the centre of creativity, which relies on memory, focus, planning, decision making and higher order thinking. Meditation helps the neurons in this area fire more effectively and thus improving the innovation process.
Too much stress can kill creativity.
A small amount of stress can be productive and motivate us to achieve everyday tasks. However, high levels of stress and anxiety are counter-intuitive to creativity. This is because when we live in fight, flight, or freeze mode, we spend most of our time dealing with situations from a state of fear. We are selfish; we go into protection mode. We are reactive and allow our emotions to drive our behaviour and decision making. Meditation allows us to sit and notice our thoughts and emotions. We practice observing the mind from an outsider’s perspective. We learn to detach ourselves from the mind. We learn that whilst unhelpful thoughts or feelings may come up, they will eventually pass. The more mindful we are, the more we can do things that feel good and put us into the relaxed and happy state that fosters creative thinking.
Mediation allows us to be open to possibilities.
When we live life in autopilot, we rely on our current habits to get through life. We live inside the box and go through life without even thinking about why we act or think the way we do. When we start a meditation practice, we allow space for our intuition to grow. We are more in tune with our higher selves. We are more open to opportunities to create and grow rather than having our blinkers on and just focusing on what is in front of us. Meditation, like exercise, puts us in a positive state of mind, which nurtures our creative forces.
Meditation helps us to get into a state of flow.
The ‘flow state’ or being ‘in the zone’ is where the magic happens. Think of a time when you were totally immersed and focused on an activity that you enjoy. You lost track of time and paid no attention to your surroundings. In this state, the mind chatter fades away and we become less aware of our bodies, such as aches and pains or feeling hungry. In fact, when we achieve a true meditative state, we are in a state of flow. In this zone, we fill fulfilled and are working to our full potential. This is where the creative forces flourish.
So what if you are not a creative person? Creativity is not limited to those traditional activities such as art and music. Creativity is about coming up with new ideas or ways to do something. I never saw myself as a traditionally creative person. However, yoga and meditation have inspired me to create classes, events, and retreats that fill me with such joy and purpose. Practising meditation regularly has improved my resilience and has led to me creating a life that is so much more aligned with who I am and what I value.
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