How can meditation help us be more creative? Can biofeedback technology help us meditate more effectively?
In their book on creativity research, Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire make a number of references to meditation and creativity. For example, they note:
“Steve Jobs has even said that meditation — which he studied with Zen master Shunryū Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind — was the main source of his creativity.”
“After around two years of practicing meditation, Moby said that he had achieved a higher quality of life and enhanced creativity, mostly by quieting the negativity and noise in his mind.”
In our interview years ago, actor Heather Graham commented:
“I meditate twice a day for twenty minutes. I’ve been doing it for six years, and I’ve gotten into the habit of finding the time for it.
“Sometimes it’s hard. But it definitely pays off for me.”
She also appreciates the value of psychotherapy: “In some ways it helps more than acting class. You realize why you operate in certain ways.”
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In an article of his, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman writes that “Relaxation training appears to increase creativity by reducing anxiety and freeing the mind from negative thinking.
“This form of training is related to mindfulness meditation.
“Indeed, a recent review of the literature found a moderate relationship between creativity and mindfulness…”
He notes a research study concluded that “while ideational-skills training benefited extraverts more than introverts, relaxation training benefited introverts more than extraverts.”
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What is neurofeedback?
In his article Neurofeedback Training for Your Brain, John M. Grohol, Psy.D. (founder of Psych Central) explains, “As the name implies, neurofeedback works by providing feedback to an individual about their brain, specifically, their brainwaves.
“Feedback in a vacuum, however, is useless, so the individual undergoing neurofeedback is rewarded for patterns of brainwave activity that are better for the person.
“This is referred to as ‘self-regulation,’ because the individual is learning how to regulate their own actual brainwave patterns on their own, without medications or additional therapy.”
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Neurofeedback can be helpful as more than a way to treat depression, anxiety or other challenges
For example, a study found that actors using neurofeedback training were given “higher ratings of acting performance overall, well-rounded performance, and especially the creativity subscale including imaginative expression, conviction and characterisation.”
From Acting performance and flow state enhanced with sensory-motor rhythm neurofeedback…, Neuroscience Letters, 2010 Aug 16.
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The photo at top is Ariel Garten, Founder and Chairman of InteraXon, makers of Muse: the brain sensing headband, which senses brainwave activity and sends that information to your phone or tablet, providing real time feedback on your state of relaxation and focus.
Unproductive thinking and worry interfere with creativity
An article on the Muse site quotes Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School:
“If you have unproductive worries,” she says, “you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’
“Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self.”
From “Meditation with Muse Helps Jessica Cope With Anxiety Like Symptoms” – one of many posts in the blog section of the site of Muse: the brain sensing headband.
For more information and videos about Muse and biofeedback devices from HeartMath, see my article Meditation Technology for Emotional Health and Creativity.
More access to your creative self
Some final comments on why it is worth exploring meditation to improve your emotional health and be more creative, from psychologist Cheryl Arutt:
“Finding ways to maintain that optimal zone where we are neither under- or over-stimulated allows us to use our minds to respond rather than to react.
“If you are an artist, you are your instrument. The greater access you maintain to yourself, the richer and broader your array of creative tools.”
From her article Affect Regulation and the Creative Artist.
Do you meditate to be more creative?