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How to Stimulate Creativity & Insight

Posted May 24 2011 10:00am

What to do when you’ve come to a halt in creativity and insight in your personal life or career? This question is regularly on the minds of many, even one of the most creative companies in the world – Walt Disney. By exploring the steps they took to overcome this hurdle along with novel approaches of self-reflection and journaling you’ll be soon well on your way with creative juices flowing.

Walt Disney Co. after opening Epcot center came to a crossroads of what to do next – their creative arm called the Walt Disney Imagineers called in a trainer called Ron Alexander to unleash their creative potential.

Ron who runs the OpenMind Training Institute is a therapist and meditation teacher and quickly took to work “Over two years, I did a series of seminars on creativity, reengineering, and revisioning, so that individuals in the division could begin to access new creative directions,” he says. The Imagineers went on to open Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, and even today still earn patents in areas like 3-D virtual-reality displays and animatronics.

“Mindfulness helps you to build what I call ‘mind strength,’ ” Alexander says. “Your awareness and consciousness become really toned. This is an excellent strategy for becoming successful in your profession, as well as the bigger game of transforming yourself and the people who work with and for you.”

Alexander’s metaphor is grounded in science. In a move partly spurred by recent improvements in the resolution of computer-generated brain images as well as advances in stem-cell research, neuroscientists have been learning that our brains are more malleable than was once presumed. “A decade ago, we thought you got what you were given at birth and that was pretty much it,” says Joshua Aronson, a psychologist at New York University who studies intellectual performance. “But now we know the number of brain cells can increase throughout your life through neurogenesis. There’s great evidence that shows if you really work on a skill, the part of the brain associated with that skill grows. The mind is like a muscle. If you don’t keep exercising it, it will atrophy.”

The key with stimulating your creative juices is to keep the brain engaged in new activities or activities that engage the brain at many levels – in this case Meditation is a great tool for this because not only does it provide rest from cognitive functions like thinking and calculating, but it engages the other essential facets of inquiry, creativity, contemplation, insight, and connectivity to feelings and emotions which are essential for a balanced Mind.

To stimulate your creativity and insight take 12-20 minutes and practice this Mindfulness technique with a notepad in hand to jot down any creative ideas that come to mind:

  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, or in a straight-backed chair with your feet on the floor, or lie down. If seated, close your eyes gently; if you lie down, keep your eyes slightly open.
  • Set an alarm. Try meditating for between 12 and 20 minutes.
  • Concentrate on your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils, or on the rise and fall of your belly.
  • When thoughts, feelings, or sensations arise, don’t try too hard to push them away. Mentally acknowledge them, but then try to concentrate anew on your breathing.

Providing this time to search inside yourself, will provide the space to connect to the creativity and insight within. Goodluck with your personal practice – I thought this quote would be a nice segway to personal practice.

Carl Jung

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