Discover mindful creativity

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Now this is incredibly important when engaging in creative thinking. With present moment awareness, we are better able to regulate our attention and emotion, be aware of our physical and mental self, and have an increased ability to consider and explore alternative perspectives.

Mindfulness is not only for those engaging in cognitive and challenging thought. If fact, practicing mindfulness can have incredible benefit during the creative thinking process which requires just as much mental and emotional processing.

It is a common misconception that to develop creative ideas and solutions is simply about freedom of thoughts. But, there is actually four stages of the creative process and believe it or not a ‘framework’ around it! I’m going to share with you this framework and how you can work mindfully through each stage to enhance your creative thinking process, outcome and impact.

Stage 1 Preparation:

The first phase of creative thinking is just about to actually coming up with your idea in the first place. It requires free-thinking, using your imagination, and possibly being a little bit messy and random. During this phase of the creative process you want your mind to be free to roam around without limitation.  Applied mindfulness during the preparation phase helps to boost your thinking and your ability to explore alternatives.

To start, develop a ritual before you start to get creative.  It could be making a beautiful cup of tea, going for a walk or meditating. Routine is the key, if you repeat the actions often enough and then follow with creative thinking, your brain will associated these actions and help you to get you in the zone. Next, brainstorm to generate ideas. Uninterrupted and without limit. No idea is a bad idea. By jumping into the ‘ideation’ process with full intent, you can kick start your brain into creative thought.

Stage 2 Incubation of ideas:

This second phase is about letting your ideas brew and allowing the time and space for them to come into full flavour! So during this stage it could seem counter intuitive to take a break and allow you and your ideas to ‘incubate’ but this is when the magic starts to happen as you allow your mind to organise your thoughts  so you can arrive at some creative insight and illumination.  Mindfulness during the incubation stage helps to take away the stress and anxiety of an outcome and provides your brain a chance to rest from the mode of thinking that you have been engaged in.

Relax, meditate, or undertake physical exercise. Leave your ideas to ‘marinate’. These activities can be very helpful during this phase to engage alternative thinking centres of your brain.

Stage 3 Illumination:

Otherwise known as the ‘OMG’ moment!  All your ideas and thinking converge into one amazing idea or solution.

During the illumination phase mindfulness helps you to achieve a state of calm and clarity and works to eliminate the noise and clutter of your mind. You will find that you are more receptive to moments of insight and the ‘ta-da’ moment and with practice, these moments will occur more quickly and frequently.

Stage 4 Validation of your idea

The final phase is the validation phase or otherwise known as the ‘reality check’! During this stage you will move into a more analytical and logical thinking process to assess the validity of your idea or solution and create a plan to take it forward.

Mindfulness during this phase helps you to stay clear, energised and motivated to progress.  Importantly reviewing ideas will play a very key part here.

Creativity takes courage to overcome fear and turn your fear of failure into opportunities, and your weaknesses into strength.  During the validation phase, you can be at your most vulnerable  as you wonder if your idea or solution will actually work.  During this time be kind to yourself, be nonjudgmental and be balanced as you move through the crux of the creative thinking process.

Finally thoughts.

It is important you create the physical and mental space that is conducive to creativity:

  1. Remove obstacles to creativity –  including those mindless or insignificant interruptions to creative thought. Turn off your phone, switch off the television. Just devote the time to yourself to get creative.
  2. Change your surroundings or position – Find somewhere inspiring to be, it could be at the beach, your local café or somewhere meaningful to you. Changing your position from sitting to standing works wonders allowing you to breath more deeply and allow more oxygen to reach your brain to stimulate thought.
  3. Stop telling yourself that you are not creative…especially when you are tired, stressed or run down – This is one of the biggest things that can blast your creative confidence resulting in shelved creative ideas.
  4. Know when you are your creative best and create, this could be early in the morning, late in the evening, and more than likely when you in your most relaxed state.

Know that creative thinking is a ‘process’ and  it takes time. So be sure to practice self-compassion as you work through each phase. Trust yourself that you will arrive at a creative outcome or solution that you can share.

 

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