The best ideas are born in the shower, in your dreams or on your weekend hike. Have you ever wondered why?
The scoop on creativity
Creativity is a series of distinct mental processes, not just one kind of thinking. It happens when different kinds of thinking come together.
About 60% of CEOs in a survey ranked creativity as the most important leadership quality, yet 75% of us believe that we’re not living up to our creative potential. (Sources: Kapost, 2014. Advertising Age, 2012.)
Why not? Part of the reason has to do with our lifestyle. We rush from one thing to another one, not leaving (much) space for “expansion” and “assimilation”.Creativity = expansion of the mind + assimilation of inputs. Click To Tweet
We spend the vast majority of our day in the so-called “beta state of mind”. Beta wavelengths (~12 to 38HZ) govern our normal waking consciousness, and they enable us to perform cognitive tasks and connect to the outside world. Our ability to make decisions, solve problems and stay focused is due to the function of beta wavelengths.
While we need logic and reasoning, the secret sauce to creativity is relaxation. When meetings, stress, late-night deliverables and other cognitive tasks occupy our minds, we’re far from the state of “bliss and calm”.
Relaxation allows us to de-clutter our minds and allow it to assimilate the stimuli, information and thoughts it has come into contact with. When we stop the inside chatter, we make room for creativity. How many times has the answer come to you when you least expected it?A busy mind is a limited mind. A relaxed mind is an expansive mind. Click To Tweet An expansive mind knows no boundaries. Click To Tweet
Creativity is a state of mind
Research presented in a recent interview on NPR confirms the connection between relaxation and creativity. Sadly, many people have forgotten what the word “relaxed” feels like in our bodies and minds.
If you want to experience it, pay attention to your morning and evening routines. There is a time in the morning right as we’re waking up or in the evening as we’re falling asleep when we get into a pleasant state of relaxation on our way to dreamland or back out of it. As we’re transitioning between these two worlds, there’s a window of quietness, which is dominated by alpha wavelengths. Alpha wavelengths (~8 to 12HZ) create calmness and the feeling of “being present”. This is the same place you find yourself in during light meditation, visualization and mindfulness practices. This state helps improve memory and learning, too. It also connects you to your “gut feeling”, your intuition as this state of mind is your entry point into your subconscious. And that’s where the magic happens!
Four habits to your Eureka! moment
Training your brain to call upon your alpha wavelengths is just like training your muscles to bench press your desired weight: it takes practice and patience. Try these 4 ways to bring more creativity into your life:
- Meditate in the morning: stay in bed for a few extra minutes in the morning and stop the urge to think about your to-do list. Instead, focus on your inhales and exhales, and let the ideas flow freely. Write them down so you don’t forget them.
- Get a good night’s sleep: clear your head and put your worries aside. Meditate, practice gratitude and describe to yourself the kind of sleep/rest you want to have at night. Repeat every night and believe it.
- Set aside “quiet” time: block off time on your calendar at work. Make sure that you take a lunch break. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the afternoon between about 2PM and 6PM tends to be naturally better suited for creative endeavors but only if you have used the earlier part of the day and night wisely.
- Get away: When you hit a wall in your search for an answer, step away and stop thinking about it. The more you force it, the less relaxed you’ll be and the less clarity you’ll experience. Shift gears, go for a walk and clear your head.
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Image by Jay Cee, Unsplash