10 Minutes of Meditation: Can It Make You More Creative?

Creativity is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the job role. Whether you’re trying to balance competing client objectives, solve a client problem, or introduce a new line of products, your approach is unlikely to come from a guidebook. It’s hard to maintain ideas daily. So how do you reclaim your “mojo”?

Practicing mindfulness is becoming extremely popular as a remedy. As a result, many top companies have adopted meditation and other mindfulness techniques for their staff, including Goldman Sachs, Google, and  Medtronic. According to leaders at these and other organizations, mindfulness is not only helpful for reducing stress, but it can also boost creativity, opening doors where previously there were only walls.

Researchers first looked at the data and then conducted experiments to understand better the benefits of short guided meditation in boosting creativity. Here’s what discovered.

Being more creative and imaginative can be improved by mindfulness meditation.

When they’re stressed, many executives use meditation to help them shift gears. According to studies, mindfulness meditation has several positive effects on job performance. It increases your resiliency by coping with stress, controlling emotions, and having a more optimistic perspective, allowing you to recover more rapidly from adversity. It helps develop the ability to turn off reflexive fight-or-flight impulses and engage in a more cognitive mode, which is necessary for making well-informed judgments.

Creativity can be boosted in as little as 10 to 12 minutes.

An experiment conducted at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands confirm that one of the first benefits of mindfulness meditation is creativity and examines how past findings may be applied to improve idea generation in businesses. Compared with previous studies, experimenters wanted to see if only a few minutes of mindfulness meditation would be enough to improve creativity. A total of 129 students were divided into three groups and given the task of using drones to develop as many business concepts as possible.

One group completed a 10-minute audio-guided mindfulness meditation before beginning individual brainstorming. In contrast, the other did a 10-minute simulated meditation in which participants were advised to think independently by allowing their thoughts to wander. A third group instantly began brainstorming.

Each of the three groups came up with almost the same range of ideas, and their descriptions were around the same length. The primary distinction was that meditators generated a far broader range of concepts. The non-meditator groups’ ideas were divided into at least two main categories, but the meditators’ ideas were comprised of four. In the significant segment of non-meditators (20 percent of the two groups), each individual’s opinions fell into five categories (filming and delivering items). Individual opinions in the primary part of meditators (21 percent of the group) were divided into nine divisions, such as gardening (watering flowers, trimming trees) and security (putting out fires), and ranged from credible (cleaning windows) to the silly (feeding giraffes).

Apart from meditation, researchers looked for other possible explanations for the disparities. In their regression analysis, they controlled for variables that could affect concept flexibility, such as whether the respondents liked the brainstorming exercise. Also, aside from meditation, they looked for other plausible factors. They noticed that a quick meditation combined with physical activity could put people in a more happy and relaxed mind. Most persons in the meditation group were less depressed. Meditation, in particular, reduced participants’ emotions of unease (by 23%), anxiety (17%), and irritation (by 24 percent ).

To validate the findings, they conducted a second study with a group of 24 senior innovation managers from a famous Dutch research unit. These Corporate leaders meditated for 12 minutes, then brainstormed ideas on building a much more inclusive culture in their organizations, similar to the students.

According to most participants, meditation allowed them to relax their minds, focus more on the task at hand, and produce new ideas and solutions. And they did: one suggestion was for management or employees to change departments for a week (and then report on what they saw in a corporate publication and with their departments), similar to a Dutch reality show in which teenagers transfer families. Another suggestion was to hold TED talks inside the company to highlight innovative solutions and scientists from other departments.

Also, the only way to find out if mindfulness meditation is for you is to try it. Download one of the many short online mindfulness meditation courses (such as calm, headspace, or buddhify) or simply follow the steps below.

  • Look for a quiet spot where you won’t be bothered.
  • Set a timer and sit in a relaxed position.
  • Close your eyes gently.
  • Observe your emotions, sensations, and perceptions while asking yourself what you’re going through.
  • Turn your attention to your body and spend a few moments concentrating on the sensations in the locations where your body contacts the seat or the ground.
  • Concentrate your attention on your stomach and how it feels. Take note of how it expands and contracts with each breath.
  • Continue to focus on your breathing without making any adjustments.
  • Your ideas will gradually fade away on their own.
  • When you find your mind has wandered away from the present moment, acknowledge it as a period of mindfulness and return your attention to your breathing.
  • Now pay great attention to your entire body, especially your stance and facial expressions. When you’re ready, or when the timer says it’s time to go back to work.

Bonus tip

Also, there are various shorter mindfulness seminars and workshops available if you aren’t yet ready to commit to a lengthier term. For example, consider mindfulness workshops in Copenhagen, Denmark, where Esan Hansen, a mindfulness instructor, and speaker, leads one-day intensive mindfulness seminars. The course focuses on “basic guided meditation activities,” with the goal of participants being able to execute meditation on their own after a day.

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