Meditation, Another Key to Overcoming Creative Blocks

Could Meditation be the Key to Overcoming Creative Block? – Eve Pearce

This is clearly stating the obvious but one of the most important ways to remain at your artistic best is to ensure that your creative juices never dry up. There is little point creating something which is a carbon copy of what a thousand artists have already produced, no matter how skilful you may be. However there will inevitably be some periods in your life when your creativity drops. How do you reinstate it and make sure you can continue to work during these periods without compromising your art? Research suggests one method for doing this might be meditation. Some people assume meditation is unfounded nonsense but there have been various studies conducted throughout the years that have proven its effectiveness at stimulating creativity.

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

A study carried out earlier in 2012 by Lorenza Colzato and her team of researchers at Leiden University in Holland, concluded that certain types of meditation have benefits that extend much further than relaxation. The findings suggest meditation can have a long-lasting effect upon human cognition, influencing our creative thought processes. Colzato investigated the way in which meditation affects the two main contributors to creativity: convergent and divergent styles of thinking. Divergent thinking is a thought process used to generate ideas by exploring numerous possible avenues. It is a form of mental brainstorming where as many concepts as possible are created, some of them good and some of them not so good. Convergent thinking is the process of attempting to think of a single solution to something. It is thought to work in conjunction with divergent thinking in order to facilitate creativity.

Colzato and her team assessed which meditative techniques influenced creative activities the most by getting participants to take part in creativity-based tasks after bouts of different forms of meditation and then monitoring how effectively they were able to carry them out. She concluded that ‘open monitoring’ meditation enabled those taking part to perform to a higher level in tasks based around divergent thinking and ‘focussed attention’ meditation enabled them to do better at tasks involving convergent thinking. ‘Open monitoring’ meditation is meditation that does not focus upon a set concept or object and ‘focussed attention’ meditation is meditation that does.

Implications of the Study

The results of this research are useful to Artists because they provide instruction as to which forms of meditation can be helpful at different stages of the creative process. In the early stages, when you are looking to generate as many ideas as possible before picking one to work on, it might be useful to practice open monitoring meditation. Find a quiet space, sit down in a comfortable position and try and be aware of your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them, letting them wash over you as if they belonged to somebody else. This sounds difficult to master but practice makes perfect. When you have chosen what you want to do and need to figure out the best way of putting it into practice then you might benefit from focussed attention meditation. Again, sit down in a quiet place, but this time light an incense stick and focus solely upon the smell of the incense to the exclusion of everything else. You will find that this will clear your mind so that you are more able to focus upon the task at hand once your meditation session has finished.

Why Not Give It a Go?

As I have previously stated, some people are sceptical about the benefits of meditation to artists but it is a good technique for overcoming mental block and can create the piece of mind required to create art that is truly innovative and original as opposed to being centred on tired, clichéd concepts. Numerous well known artists meditate in order to gain inspiration, including installation artist Isaac Julien, who cites it as one of the most useful creative techniques. It is far from an unproven piece of new age rubbish; meditation is used by trained psychologists in order to relax patients, incorporated into drug counselling sessions aimed at treating causes of depression that might trigger cravings in addicts and even taught in schools as a means of reducing stress amongst pupils. Why not give it a try and see if it helps to get your creative juices flowing?

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