Saturday, June 23, 2012

Double your Creativity in 3 easy steps !

3 easy ways to boost your Creativity 

3 days with Nature every month or 30 mins with yourself every morning or at least 3 breaks

Shelly Carson describes Creativity as the ability to produce work or ideas that combine or recombine elements of information that are stored in our brains or that are coming in from the outside world in novel and original ways, that have a purpose (Author of Your Creative Brain).

Who would not like to enhance their creativity ? Did you know that there are 3 simple ways to boost your creativity very significantly ? I have benefited from these practices and I am confident that you will too.

1.Spend time with Nature

Research conducted at the University of Kansas concludes that people from all walks of life show startling cognitive improvement — for instance, a 50 percent boost in creativity — after living for a few days steeped in nature.

“Nature is a place where our mind can rest, relax and let down those threat responses,” said Atchley. “Therefore, we have resources left over — to be creative, to be imaginative, to problem solve — that allow us to be better, happier people who engage in a more productive way with others.”

Atchley led a team that conducted initial research on a backpacking trip in Utah with the Remote Associates Test (RAT), a word-association exercise used for decades by psychologists to gauge creative intelligence.
“We worked with a number of backpacking groups that were going out last summer,” Ruth Ann Atchley said. “Four backpacker groups took the test before they hit the trail, and then four different groups did it on the fourth day just like we had done before. The data across age groups —regular folks from age 18 into their 60s — showed an almost 50 percent increase in reativity. It really worked in the sense that it was a well-used measure and we could see such a big difference in these two environments.”
Best of all, she said that the benefits of nature belong to anyone who delves completely into wilderness for an amount of time equivalent to a long weekend.
“There’s growing advantage over time to being in nature,” said Ruth Ann Atchley. “We think that it peaks after about three days of really getting away, turning off the cell phone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage. It’s when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects in how your mind works.”

I went to Wayanad (Kerala) recently and spent 4 days with the Nature - it was very refreshing and relaxing. There are so many such places in India and it is easy to plan one such trip every month.

You may not be able to take such breaks regularly - you are lucky if you can manage one such break per month. But there is something that you can do daily at home or at work - by just setting aside 15-30 mins in the morning - meditate.
2. Relax by Meditating

Ananda Marga: meditation and service

Mark McGuiness describes how meditation improves creativity and here is an excerpt from his essay:

Focus. Concentration is essential to outstanding creative execution and performance. The simple act of focusing on your breathing day after day, will gradually improve your powers of concentration.

Clarity. Like calmness, this can be gradual and intermittent to begin with. But you are likely to notice moments and even periods of mental clarity, when you see things clearly and your mind is sharper than usual – which makes problem-solving and decision-making easier.

Insight. You’ve probably had the experience of suddenly realizing the solution to a problem, even though you haven’t been consciously thinking of it. Or you may have experienced a moment of inspiration, when a new idea flashes into your mind unbidden. If you’re practicing meditation regularly, expect this to happen more often.

Perspective. When you spend time just being present and observing your breath, thoughts, feelings, and moment-to-moment experience, you start to realize how trivial most of our daily worries really are. Even in the midst of the daily grind, you can let go of the small stuff, and keep the big picture in view.
Practice : Sit straight facing East, Breathe deeply a few times, 18 simple Pranayama followed by chanting Gayathri Mantra 108 times

If you have difficulty setting aside 30 mins everyday morning to meditate, then i will suggest the next best alternative :

3.  Take a short break

When you are intensely working on a problem, but unable to make much progress, take a break and do something else - listen to music, go for a walk, play with your child (anything that you care for) or if you cannot afford such luxuries, at least work on a different problem. After this break, when you get back to teh original problem, you will see that (after a few minutes) a fresh insight pops out of your mind (as if from nowhere suddenly). This kind of an experience has been shared by many innovators. Kekule solved the structure of Benzene when he took a short nap in the laboratory, Archimedes came up with his law of floatation while getting into his bath tub,.....

There is something magical that happens when you conciously move away from the problem that you have been intensely working on - I am not sure about the mechanics of it - but it works almost all the time.

Wallas (1926) reports that he first heard of the idea of incubation from the physicist Helmholz. In a speech delivered in 1891, Helmholz described how new thoughts came to him: After previous investigation, "in all directions," .. " happy ideas come unexpectedly without effort, like an inspiration ... they have never come to me when my mind was fatigued, or when I was at my working table ... They came particularly readily during the slow ascent of wooded hills on a sunny day" (p. 91).

Einstein clearly knew about incubation: According to Clark (1971), Einstein would "allow the subconscious to solve particularly tricky problems. 'Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work,' his eldest son said, 'he would take refuge in music, and that would resolve all his difficulties.'" (p. 106). Clark notes that for Einstein, "with relaxation, there would often come the solution" (p. 106).

Poincare described his own experience in developing a theory of a certain kind of mathematical function. He worked on the problem steadily for two weeks without success. One night, sleepless, it seemed to him that “ideas rose in crowds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination.” Still, he did not have the solution. But, a day or so later, he was boarding a bus ... “The idea came to me, without anything in my thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define these functions were identical with those of non-Euclidean geometry. .. I felt a perfect certainty. On my return to Caen, for conscience’s sake, I verified the result.”

Csikszentmihalyi and Sawyer (1995) interviewed nine "creative" individuals, all of whom had made creative contributions in their field, were 60 or older, and were still actively involved in creative work. All mentioned that insights occurred during idle time, and several mentioned that they occurred while they were doing something else, during a "repetitive, physical activity" such as gardening, shaving, taking a walk, or taking a bath (p. 348). Some of the subjects actually scheduled "a period of solitary idle time that follows a period of hard work ... many of them told us that without this solitary, quiet time, they would never have their most important ideas" (p. 347).

Practice - Intensely focus on the problem for 60 - 90 minutes - take a 15 mins break and step out of your desk - do something that you like and that relaxes your mind - now get back to work and again focus on the problem for the next 60-90 mins. Try this out and I am sure you will see the value of this advice.

Key Takeaways

  • Plan for a weekend with Nature at least once a month
  • Wake up before sunrise and meditate for 30 mins
  • Take a 15 min break after every 90 mins of intense work

1 comment:

  1. Insight Meditation technique -