8 Benefits of Creativity and Flow
21 January 2019 | Katy Ratican
When we talk about creativity, many psychologists talk about left and right brain activity and divergent and convergent thinking processes. While these are aspects of the creative process in terms of how ideas are shaped, tested and delivered — they are not the source of creativity.
There is also a school of thought that says that creativity is a result of activating your brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is your usual wandering, distracted mindset. We disagree.
It’s well known that regular meditation is associated with relatively reduced activity in the default mode network. When we apply creativity we really need a clear, focused, alert, relaxed and open mindset that is present and fully connected to what is happening, as it is happening. This mindset can be nurtured by modern meditation.
Ask anyone who is in the business of creativity and they’ll confirm it. So many individuals, writers, artists, athletes, musicians, filmmakers, designers and actors will tell you that all they have to do is to be open to that flow.
Are creative people different?
Well, yes and no. On the whole, creative people have learnt to access the deeper aspects of themselves. Sometimes you hear people describing a creative person as someone who has the ability to see things differently, somebody who has a different take on the world. They see things others don’t notice, or they work in a way that is different. You can see it in their whole body-mind; they are never bored, never anxious or stressed and are happy to meet the challenge in front of them.
When you’re in flow there’s no need for hesitation, apprehension or doubt. That’s pretty much what modern meditation is — a cognitive shift away from restrictive mindsets. And it can make all the difference.
Creativity and flow are not the purpose of modern meditation but it’s a very welcome byproduct. In fact, if you’ve ever experienced flow and you’re an experienced meditator, you have probably noticed they feel like pretty much the same thing.
I have taught design and creativity at graduate level for many years. I can tell you that it’s not a question of teaching people to be creative, it’s more a matter of teaching people how to access their creativity. That distinction is key — a great deal of my design teaching and leadership has been about helping people access and utilise their built-in creativity.
Creativity can be blocked by stress and anxiety. Creative blocks in my experience are either self-inflicted or down to poor leadership. Either way, it leads to a loss of happiness because it’s linked to creativity and flow.
People are at their most creative, productive and energised when they are happy. That stands to reason. This is why over the years I’ve realised that happiness and creativity are pretty much the same thing. Create an environment where you can nurture this and you’re pretty much doing the best you can.
How modern meditation helps
Regular practice of a beanddo modern meditation programme will help you to make changes. In time, you’ll begin to notice that old reactive habits and mindsets such as ‘I can’t do this, it’s too hard’ or ‘I’m not skilled enough’, begin to fall away. This corresponds with an improvement in outlook, energy, focus and mental health.
With meditation, freedom increases and coping skills grow. We begin to know what others mean when they talk about self-regulation; we have taken back control and when that happens, our sense of purpose and intention grows.
When we practice modern meditation, we free ourselves from automatic learned behaviour. We switch off our autopilot, step out of our comfort zone and instead self-activate. We start to bring what we learn in our sitting meditation practice into our everyday world.
Seeing things as they really are
Of course, you don’t have to be an artist or athlete to experience flow. Flow can be achieved in just about any activity. With practice, we can consciously bring an open awareness to the present moment. We switch on and run the beanddo algorithm and then flow:
Our being and doing merge together — that’s the source of happiness and creativity.
Creativity is good for your career too
Opening up to the creativity in your life is not only important for your health and wellbeing, it’s good for your career too. It allows you to access your optimum self. In a fast-changing world your creativity will give you options.
The World Economic Forum has recently said that creativity, insight and flow, combined with the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, is going to be one of the most sought-after human capacities in the workplace. While artificial intelligence and robotics expand across the world, creativity resists automation — it is a unique, human ability and skill the robots will never be able to replace. That makes you a valuable asset.
The day-to-day creative benefits of modern meditation
1. Regular modern meditation practice will allow you to access your optimum self. In a fast-changing world, your creativity will give you options.
2. Creativity and happiness are the same thing. When you practice modern meditation you plant the seeds that bind and nurture them together.
3. Your being and doing begin to merge. You begin to develop a new sense of healthy wholeness.
4. Self-consciousness, doubt, fear, distractions and anxiety disappear. You will be free from expectation and pressure.
5. Sense of time becomes distorted. When working you will know that you will always have enough time to do what you need to do.
6. Energy and health will increase, combined with your ability to focus, stay present and know you have all the skills and resources to achieve what you set out to achieve.
7. Your sense of purpose and intention will grow.
8. You will understand the joy of doing.