How To Tap Into Your Creativity

Creativity is a terrible thing to waste:

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by Headspace

Is creativity a matter of nature or nurture to you? Does it spontaneously arise when you least expect it, or do you deliberately attempt to be creative? Are there times when you wish you could be more creative? And what does creativity mean to you anyway? Is it something that allows you to solve problems, is it something through which you express yourself physically or is it something that keeps you feeling connected and in touch with the world around you?

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We can interpret and interact with this thing we call creativity. Sometimes the approach is full of good intention and yet nothing seems to arise, and other times we can be in the shower, or wondering what to have for lunch and the best idea in the world suddenly pops into our mind. So why does it happen like this, and what can we do about it? And is it even possible to train the mind to become more creative?

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When it comes to creativity, western psychologists often like to talk about it terms of “conscious” and “subconscious” mind. This suggests that they are two distinct places, and that we somehow have to “access” or “tap into” this creative space. From a meditation point of view, that’s not strictly true. Sure, if you had to give a name to those thoughts and feelings you are not aware of in any given moment, you could call them “subconscious” — or anything else for that matter. But whatever you choose to call it, we are still talking about the mind … and there is only one mind!

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How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Now who can resist learning more about something like that? Certainly not us, so we’ve stolen reprinted the article and are presenting it right here:

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by Maria Pop0va

“A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”

“The habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts,” wrote James Webb Young in his famous 1939 5-step technique for creative problem-solving, “becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas.” But just how does one acquire those vital cognitive customs? That’s precisely what science writer Maria Konnikova explores in Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (UK; public library) — an effort to reverse-engineer Holmes’s methodology into actionable insights that help develop “habits of thought that will allow you to engage mindfully with yourself and your world as a matter of course.”

Bridging ample anecdotes from the adventures of Conan Doyle’s beloved detective with psychology studies both classic and cutting-edge, Konnikova builds a compelling case at the intersection of science and secular spiritualism, stressing the power of rigorous observation alongside a Buddhist-like, Cageian emphasis on mindfulness. She writes:

The idea of mindfulness itself is by no means a new one. As early as the end of the nineteenth century, William James, the father of modern psychology, wrote that, ‘The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. … An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.’ That faculty, at its core, is the very essence of mindfulness. And the education that James proposes, an education in a mindful approach to life and to thought.

In recent years, studies have shown that meditation-like thought (an exercise in the very attentional control that forms the center of mindfulness), for as little as fifteen minutes a day, can shift frontal brain activity toward a pattern that has been associated with more positive and more approach-oriented emotional states, and that looking at scenes of nature, for even a short while, can help us become more insightful, more creative, and more productive. We also know, more definitively than we ever have, that our brains are not built for multitasking — something that precludes mindfulness altogether. When we are forced to do multiple things at once, not only do we perform worse on all of them but our memory decreases and our general wellbeing suffers a palpable hit.

But for Sherlock Holmes, mindful presence is just a first step. It’s a means to a far larger, far more practical and practically gratifying goal. Holmes provides precisely what William James had prescribed: an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought and in using it in order to accomplish more, think better, and decide more optimally. In its broadest application, it is a means for improving overall decision making and judgment ability, starting from the most basic building block of your own mind….

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