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Meditation For Creativity

If You're Too Antsy For Meditation, Try This Other Form Called "Open Monitoring" Instead

For some, trying to sit still and direct their attention to one thing can have the opposite effect of calm. You start to overanalyse the practice and, rather than finding a peaceful state of mind, you end up stressing about filtering the "right" kind of thoughts. If that's why you've passed on meditation, try "open monitoring" meditation instead. This form is supposed to open up your mind vs. keeping your focus on one specific thought as "focused attention" meditation requires.

"It's the opposite of focused meditation because you open yourself up to observing everything that is happening in your mind and body," psychologist Ayca Szapora shared in A Book That Takes Its Time.

Szapora's small study on this form of meditation found that it had a positive effect on the participants' creative thought processes. Nineteen volunteers well-versed in meditation were invited to the lab three times to complete a different task during each visit. Under the supervision of a meditation coach, each person did a 25-minute focused meditation, open meditation, and visualization. After each practice, they were asked to write down things they could do with an everyday object (like a shoe) and then were scored for the number and variety of ideas. The more categories equalled a higher creative rating.

Results

Participants were able to think of more ideas after an open meditation exercise in comparison to the two other forms of practice.

Why It Worked

"When you're very focused, you can read and write very well," Szapora said. "But if you want to brainstorm, you should actually focus less."

She continued to explain how divergent thinking best spurs creativity. Being able to make connections and jump between ideas will result in a bigger range of ideas compared to focusing on a single task or thought.

How You Can Practice Open Meditation

Sit down or lie on your back, close your eyes, and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Start by just observing your breathing for five minutes, and then for the next 25, "just feel what happens in the moment," according to the book. Let thoughts flood in instead of trying to block them out. Once you're done, proceed to a brainstorming session and see what you come up with!

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