Want to Boost Your Creativity? Research says Meditate with an Open Mind


Meditation for Beginners
 Jack Kornfield
Four stars on Good Reads
I belong to a wonderful fiction critique and support group with a membership of perhaps 20 aspiring and published authors.  Between eight and ten show up at the typical weekly meeting to discuss whatever.  One constant theme is making time for writing - most members work full time. 

Another way to approach the problem of limited time is to use techniques that help you make the most of the time you have.  For example, a short period of meditation just prior to writing to help you clear the mundane and day-to-day out of your cerebral cortex while pumping up your creativity for your writing session.

Here's some of the latest research on using meditation to boost your creativity.

Meditation makes you more creative, study suggests

Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, even if you have never meditated before. This is the outcome of a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University published in the professional journal, Mindfulness.

Long-lasting influence
The study is a clear indication that you don't need to be an experienced meditator to profit from meditation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas, and that even novices may profit from meditation.

Setup of the study
A test group of 40 individuals, some with meditation experience and others with no experience, were asked to meditate for 25 minutes before performing "thinking tasks."  The study investigated the influences of different types of meditative techniques on the two main ingredients of creativity:
  • Divergent thinking Allows for many new ideas to be generated. It is measured using the so-called Alternate Uses Task method where participants are required to think up as many uses as possible for a particular object, such as a pen.
    • Test subjects performed better in divergent thinking, i.e., thinking up as many possible solutions for a given problem) after Open Monitoring meditation  defined as being receptive to every thought and sensation.
  • Convergent thinking Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is a process whereby one possible solution for a particular problem is generated. This is measured using the Remote Associates Task method, where three unrelated words are presented to the participants, words such as 'time', 'hair' and 'stretch'. The participants are then asked to identify the common link: in this case, 'long'.
    • The researchers did not see as much effect on divergent thinking after Focused Attention meditation which is defined as focusing on a particular thought or object.
As a practical application, the results of the study demonstrate that anyone practicing meditation as a stimulus to their creative process will achieve greater results if they make themselves open to every thought and sensation during their meditation session.

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Story Source: Materials provided by Leiden University.  Lorenza S. Colzato, Ayca Szapora, Dominique Lippelt, Bernhard Hommel. Prior Meditation Practice Modulates Performance and Strategy Use in Convergent- and Divergent-Thinking Problems. Mindfulness, 2014


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