The Creative Mind is an Insightful Mind

What do Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and the Dalai Lama have in common?  The obvious answer is they are the greatest minds known to mankind of recent times.  But what is most interesting is this group of people (and others) religiously practiced meditation to help develop creative and innovative solutions to old problems.lfc.lancedev.net

So what can the common person learn from this – the creative mind is an insightful mind.  

New research on mindfulness and the brain suggests that creativity can be an added benefit of engaging in mindful practice. We summarise some key findings from this promising research, which suggests creativity can indeed be trained and is important for your business.

Mindful practice is focusing attention in a particular way (i.e. focusing on your breath) that is on purpose, in the present moment and without judgement. 

  1. “Thinking as an expert may restrict insight problem-solving”: When insightful problem solving is required, we must try to step outside our habitual responses and think in a creative frame. When we draw on our prior experience to understand a problem however, this can introduce bias in terms of our search strategies and reliance on habitual problem-solving strategies. We can get “stuck in the rut” of expertise1. That is, we may automatically make assumptions or associated links between concepts presented and what we know to have been true or what we think to be currently true2. Mindfulness aims to limit such automatic, habitual processes by encouraging an understanding of reality as it is, rather than a personal or social construction based on past experience and history3. Through this, we can apply more novel and insightful thinking.

 

  1. “Neural integration supports creativity”: Research by neuroscientist Dr Daniel Siegel suggests that the way we focus our attention shapes the structure of the brain, explaining a process of neuroplasticity (where changes in the neural pathways and synapses of our brains can be stimulated by changes in behaviour)4. This is powerful stuff! He supports that mindfulness can develop neural pathways which supports integration (connection of the mental processes, such as thought with feeling)5. Mindfulness is currently being adopted in art educational programs, with creative output seen as a benefit of this integration process6.Talk about mind over [brain] matter! See what I did there...

“Mindful individuals may see improved creativity because they can selectively access greater information both externally, allowing them to take in more information from the world around them, and internally, allowing them greater access to take in their mental activity” (Ravi S. Kudesia).

  1. “Mindfulness can be seen as a business solution to training creativity”: As described above, creativity often requires insightful problem solving. However, this is easier said than done –breaking our assumptions and applying new thinking can be a difficult endeavor. While a relatively new concept, creativity training through mindfulness appears to be a promising area of research and practice. Ostafin and Kassman (2012) found that mindfulness training improves insight problem solving7. Greenberg, Reiner and Meiran (2012) found that experienced Buddhist meditators demonstrated reduced cognitive rigidity in their thinking, lending to greater creativity8.  Further application of creativity training through mindfulness needs to be undertaken, to understand the mechanisms through which such training changes our thought processes.

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  1. “Creativity is a priority for businesses and their leaders”: In the current knowledge-economy climate, where constant adaptation is required, creativity seems vital for business sustainability. Mindfulness can be seen as the tool through which leaders can respond to change ambiguity in a creative, insightful way, while building meaningful relationships with teams9. With top companies and their senior leaders embracing the mindfulness movement (including Target, Google, General Mills, eBay, Twitter, and Facebook, to name a few10), we are excited to see how this exciting and burgeoning field of research will be utilized in organisational psychology practice.

 

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- Kaitlan Laurie, Intern.

 

References

  1. Kudesia, R. S. (2015). Mindfulness and creativity in the workplace. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(27), 11483-11488.
  2. Ostafin, B. D., & Kassman, K. T. (2012). Stepping out of history: mindfulness improves insight problem solving. Consciousness and cognition, 21(2), 1031-1036.
  3. Kudesia, R. S. (2015). Mindfulness and creativity in the workplace. In J. Reb & P. W. B. Atkins (Eds.) Mindfulness in Organisations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Siegel, D. (2015). About Mindsight. Retrieved from http://www.drdansiegel.com/about/mindsight/
  5. Siegel, D.J. (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York: Bantam Books.
  6. Bochun, P. (2011). Mindfulness and creativity. Canadian Teacher Magazine November/December, 8-9.
  7. Ostafin, B. D., & Kassman, K. T. (2012). Stepping out of history: mindfulness improves insight problem solving. Consciousness and cognition, 21(2), 1031-1036.
  8. Greenberg, J., Reiner, K., & Meiran, N. (2012). Mind the trap”: mindfulness practice reduces cognitive rigidity. PloS one, 7(5), e36206.
  9. Kudesia, R. S. (2015). Mindfulness and creativity in the workplace. In J. Reb & P. W. B. Atkins (Eds.) Mindfulness in Organisations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  10. Hunter, J. (2013). "Is mindfulness good for business?." Mindfulness, 52-59.
  11. Kudesia, R. S., & Nyima, V. T. (2014). Mindfulness contextualized: An integration of Buddhist and neuropsychological approaches to cognition. Mindfulness, 1-16.

 

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