Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Advice: Increase creativity with meditation

take ten and monitor some meditation
There are so many recommended activities for writers to increase their creativity.  Join a writer's group, take a writing class, get feedback from fellow writers and read the works of great writers.  Here's one more: meditate.

According to an article at Science Daily, Lorenza Colzato and her colleagues at Leiden University in the Netherlands have found that a specific type of meditation increases creativity better than other variants.  In the article "Meditation Makes You More Creative," the form of meditation calling for open monitoring offers more freedom in the generation of ideas which would seem to be a benefit to writing creatively.

In other words, rather then focusing on a specific object, idea or concern, the writer free thinks, monitoring what comes to mind but not forcing or focusing on anything particular.  (Think of mental free writing practices or stream of consciousness.) So if I am having difficulties with a scene, I could lay down and just let creative ideas enter without prelude or pressure, and by observing the different thoughts that entered my mind, I would come up with a variety of ideas which ultimately lead me to a solution to my writing problem.

Colzato compared this technique to Focused Attention meditation which does maintain concentration on an object or idea with the individual seeking just one solution as opposed to several possible or combined solutions.  Focused Attention meditation according to her study, and a few others I have read about, does not invite greater creativity.

The broader meditation style of open monitoring appeared to provide greater creativity because it was more receptive to all possible solutions and subconscious invention.  Colzato's study examined particular brain reactions and abilities to problem solve.

Colzato's study was briefly explained in Science Daily, but it sounded worth trying, as it coincided with what I often do to prepare for writing.  I just lie down and see what rises to the surface ready to be put into words in my novel.  Sometimes what rises belongs to another story I am working on which may not be my original intent for that day, but if that is what is rising to the surface, who am I to argue, which explains why I have numerous short stories and another novel unrelated to my series drafted out.

Another article which explains three meditation styles, two which were studied by Colzato gives a brief description of each.  I found the article at The General Thinking blog. "The Buddhist Brain" does not just list descriptions but also supplies a link to the talk given by Andy Puddicombe  and posted at TED Blog about meditating just ten minutes a day.  I found it equally interesting and motivating.

I was looking at what aids creative thinking and ended up reading several articles on meditation.  This is a small sampling of what I learned and thought useful to writing, and it is worth practicing if it brings about greater creativity, not to mention a healthier mental outlook, heart and brain.

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