In a world that demands creative solutions to complex problems every day, your brain is your most valuable tool. Calm, focus, clarity, and insight are most important to your creative process. High-performing brains need to be worked out just like your body. Meditation helps you maintain your most precious resource.
Meditation is proven to provide many physical and mental health benefits — too many to count! Research from reputable institutions like Cornell and Harvard have studied and acknowledged the advantages of a consistent meditation practice. But how does that translate to your creative process at work or home? Just as you may want the scale move when you improve your exercise and nutrition, you should expect changes when you work out your mind. Here’s how meditation boosts your creativity:
Meditation isn’t about controlling your thoughts, but about not letting your thoughts control you. And this isn’t just for the obsessive compulsive among us. Our thoughts are in control when we have rigid ideas about something. When we’re unable to acknowledge a different perspective. When the challenge in front of us seems so great we don’t know where to begin.
Creating distance from those thoughts leads to flexibility and an open mindset. There’s space for intuition to kick in. You can be more objective, seeing the task or problem in front of you through a new lens. Through meditation, you are able to simplify your thoughts. Steve Jobs’ design sensibility for Apple was rooted in his meditation practice and turned the technology sector upside down. As Jobs said, “it takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.” Tapping into his own intuition through meditation led to Apple’s intuitively easy-to-use products.
In Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Steve Jobs, he quotes the computer genius as saying, “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”
As Steve Jobs noted, sitting quietly and only focusing on one thing can be surprisingly difficult. Your mind runs a constant stream of internal conversations. Gradually — because it won’t happen all at once — you’ll learn to slow those thoughts down. The simple act of focusing on your breath (or a sound or one particular thought) will improve your concentration. Concentration is the cornerstone of creative execution and performance. There is no resolving an issue or creating a design without it.
Creative thinking requires uninterrupted periods of working. When your attention can wander without the distraction of emails or phones, you’ll naturally uncover new creative insights. Bringing those ideas to life requires concentrated focus. The ability to lose focus within your thoughts and then bring it back to clearly concentrate on one task is something you’ll practice in meditation time and again.
Being a team player is easier said than done. With our faces in a screen 24/7, it’s no wonder we’re out of practice when it comes to working together. Meditation encourages empathy, patience, and acceptance. All critical for listening, debating and collaborating on a team consisting of people from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. “It’s not surprising that over 30 corporations ranging from Viacom and PepsiCo to Lurie Children’s Hospital and FCB have asked Chill to teach meditation to their workforce,” says Laura Sage, owner of Chill. “The physical and mental benefits are indisputable.”
Meditation fosters an open and curious mindset, encouraging you to evaluate challenges from all angles. A clear mind equates to the clear communication skills you need to brainstorm ideas, work through problems, and articulate solutions.
“Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” — Eckhart Tolle
Chill Meditation + Massage is Chicago’s modern wellness concept studio. No dogmas. No incense. No chakras. With classes designed for meditation newbies, zen experts and all you in-betweeners, you’ll have space to clear your head and relax your shoulders. It’s good for you.