Meditation makes you more creative
Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. Particular types of meditation can generate insight and new ideas, according to recent studies.
Benefits of meditation
Together these two studies suggest that different types of meditation may be useful for different aspects of creativity.
For generating new ideas, an open monitoring style performs best, then for solving an existing problem, a more focused attention style provides the best results.
It also may begin to show why the previous studies on the connection between meditation and creativity have provided such mixed results.
Two ingredients of creativity
The study investigates the influences of different types of meditative techniques on the two main ingredients of creativity: divergent and convergent styles of thinking.
Divergent thinking allows 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.
Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is a process whereby one possible solution for a particular problem is generated. This method 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’.
Analysis of meditation techniques
Colzato used creativity tasks that measure convergent and divergent thinking to assess which meditation techniques most influence creative activities. The meditation techniques analyzed are Open Monitoring and Focused Attention meditation.
- In Open Monitoring meditation the individual is receptive to all the thoughts and sensations experienced without focusing attention on any particular concept or object.
- In Focused Attention meditation the individual focuses on a particular thought or object.
How Meditation Benefits Creativity
While meditation has benefits for everyone, creative sorts cite specific ways in which meditation boosts their creativity.
- Increases self-confidence. Artists who lack self-confidence get in their own way. Through non-judgment meditation clears the way for the creative process.
- Eases artistic anxiety. Being creative is a risky enterprise. By creating a safe space within, meditation provides a platform from which to takes risks.
- Allows you to be yourself. Meditation puts you in touch with your true and authentic self, which is what makes each person unique. Knowing the true self makes it possible to express that self in creative ways.
- Makes you less vulnerable. Artists open themselves up to the criticism of others when they show their work. Because it puts them in touch with what matters to them, meditation makes artists less vulnerable to other people’s critiques, whether positive or negative.
- Fosters kindness to yourself. Sometimes the creative juices flow and sometimes they don’t. Being hard on yourself makes it even harder to connect with your creativity. Meditation makes you kinder to yourself (and others).
- Changes brain activity. Studies show that meditation increases brain activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with creativity.
- Keeps the world at bay. Through its focus on the moment meditation increases concentration and makes the artist less susceptible to the distractions of the mundane world.
Different types of meditation have different effects
These findings demonstrate that not all forms of meditation have the same effect on creativity. After an Open Monitoring meditation the participants performed better in divergent thinking, and generated more new ideas than previously, but Focused Attention (FA) meditation produced a different result. FA meditation also had no significant effect on convergent thinking leading to resolving a problem.