Why is it that most creative ideas and solutions to problems occur seemingly out of the blue when in the shower, walking in nature, just about to fall asleep or having some down time during the day?
It is because your thoughts have slowed down and the mind is calm which allows for clarity and creative thoughts to arise. Creativity and new ideas flow much easier when you have some mental space.
It is difficult to think creatively when you are stressed, distracted, mentally agitated or emotionally out of balance.
Mindfulness; paying attention to the present moment without thought of the past or future, fully aware of yourself, your feelings and surroundings non-judgementally, helps calm your mind and emotions which has an immense positive impact on the creative process.
Mindfulness techniques can be used purposely to help you tap into your creativity, not only for artistic pursuits but also to find creative solutions to problems and obstacles.
4 simple mindfulness techniques for creativity:
1. Mindfulness meditation
Prior to working on a creative activity or finding a creative solution to a problem, spend 10-15 minutes in mindful meditation to open your mind up to new ideas and possibilities. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed, set a timer, sit comfortably and gently close your eyes. Become aware of your thoughts, emotions and sensory perceptions, simply observe what you are feeling without judgment. When the mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to present moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions and sensations. When the timer reminds you that it is time to get to work, open your eyes.
2. Mindful moments
You don’t have to sit and meditate to practice mindfulness, being mindful is available to you at any time. There are many ways you can create informal mindful moments throughout your day to slow down, bring yourself back to the present moment and see things with fresh eyes. You can go for a mindful walk around the block, eat your lunch slowly and mindfully, take a break to drink a cup of tea with full awareness or stop for a minute to focus your entire attention on your breath. These mindful moment strategies will help you reset and get your creative juices flowing.
3. Let the mind wander
To help you generate new and novel ideas and prevent you returning to a typical way of doing things, spend some time letting thoughts come and go with non-judgemental awareness and curiosity. Close your eyes and observe your thoughts, stay open, curious and present. Whatever thought arises let it be there just for this moment, free from any judgment or criticism. Continue to observe your thoughts, letting each new thought arise naturally and of its own accord. When you are ready, open your eyes. Letting the mind wander reconnects you with your creativity and stimulates inspiration.
4. One thing at a time
When you are overwhelmed with thoughts and activities, you are unlikely to come up with creative ideas. It seems to be the norm to race though life multitasking, doing as many things as possible all at once. Multitasking is exhausting mentally and physically, instead do just one thing at a time and doing it with all of your attention. Slowing down and doing one thing at a time creates the mental space required for creativity and creative thoughts.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool to not only lower stress levels and improve your focus, but it also helps you unleash your creativity.