When the pace of things is fast and we have too much to do, we drain our inner resources –resources that are necessary for creativity. Stress is an energy hog that depletes our concentration, and it cuts us off from our best thinking. There’s a whole bunch of brain science behind this.
Practices from Mindfulness & MBSR that spark creativity & innovation. Using practices that come out of mindfulness and MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) can be very useful in quieting the mind and sparking the creativity that is essential for innovation. Mindfulness is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The practices are abundant, flexible, and adaptable. MBSR is evidence-based, and the research data are substantive and the benefits are many. A regular mindfulness practice has been proven to increase concentration, promote healing, reduce stress, relieve anxiety and panic attacks, and strengthen immune responses.
But meditative practices are not for everyone. Sometimes the conditions within us and around us don’t enable us to take the time to quiet our minds. Yet, without opening some inner quiet, our brains keep pumping out thoughts, feelings, images, and ideas, and these thoughts are not necessarily coherent or useful. We may think they are the best things ever, and we believe them to be not only helpful but right! The illusory and intangible nature of our thoughts is pretty remarkable. When we get out of the content and notice the process of our thinking, it changes our inner game dramatically for the better. We become less rigid and dogmatic, and can become more compassionate and able to listen to others’ ideas without getting reactive.
3 Short, Easy, & Useful Practices. There are several short practices that can be used to help us be more awake and attentive and ultimately more present. I have worked with the following 3 practices for many years. I still work with them and find them to beneficial in almost every situation. If you are new to this, I recommend you start with one practice and stick with it for a day or a few days until you feel comfortable with it. Then move on to another practice. Have fun and experiment with these very practical exercises.
- The practices are:
- Come into the body
- Tune into the breath
- Feel into the senses.
Come into the body. Our body holds our entire world; we live through and because of our bodies. Noticing what is going on in the body & bringing our awareness to it deepens our presence, and we are able to be more awake. Here are several different ways to do this:
- Notice what you’re paying attention to, and shift your awareness into your body, anywhere you feel your body. If your awareness moves away, bring it gently back again. Just be aware of your body.
- Sense your whole body: notice your body sitting, standing, lying down, walking, or whatever you are doing. As you breathe, maintain your awareness of your body posture.
- Sense a particular place in your body: feel your feet on the floor, or sense your heart, or bring your awareness into your belly. The idea here is to notice and feel into one place, wherever you are drawn to feeling your body, and to sense how it feels.
- Notice any strong physical sensation wherever you feel it. Are your shoulders tense? Neck pain, eyes hurting? Just notice and name it, and guide your awareness to feel the sensations as they shift and change.
Tune into the breath. The breath is always with us and can help us be more present almost instantly when we notice and tune into the sensations of the breath entering and leaving our bodies. A great sense of freedom can arise when we are gently with our breathing.
- Feel the breath come in and go out of your body. Feel it in your whole body as your body expands and contracts.
- Feel the breath fill your lungs and expand your chest, then notice how it feels when the breath flows out of your lungs and your chest and comes in again.
- Feel the breath expand in your belly then contract. The belly center is a great place to tune into the breath. The belly center is important for feeling grounded and present, and it enables us to be present for ourselves and others.
- Feel the continuity of breath coming into and out of your body. Like stringing beads together, link one breath to the next feeling the breath come in, leave, and begin again.
Feel into the senses. Our senses can lead us back to ourselves in gentle ways that help us to awaken.
- When you are walking, feel the air on your skin, sense how the wind or breeze feels as it touches your face.
- Watch how a sound creates an image in your mind. This is particularly helpful when you are listening to someone talk. Tuning into the sounds helps the meaning become more vibrant and clear.
- Become aware of your sight. Notice how you are looking and seeing.
- When you are walking, bicycling, running, swimming, or doing anything, touch your senses and notice what you are seeing, hearing, feeling on your skin. When I do this practice, I use the words as instructions to guide my awareness, For example, I say to myself: “Seeing, hearing, touching, and _walking_____.” I fill in the blank with whatever activity I am doing. As I say the words, I feel into seeing, hearing, to the sensation of touch, and the activity of my body.
Practices that Help us Wake Up Help Spark Creativity. These 3 practices help us to wake up, and as we wake up, we open up creative spaces within us. Gradually we become less distracted and stressed out. It does take practice, so be patient. In my experience, these simple practices help me and also help everyone around me and in my life. By being more present, our complex challenges become more workable.
Our Situations are Workable, and they are especially workable when we are more present and awake. When we work with our ability to notice by guiding our awareness, we learn to hold everything more lightly. We are able to open to the creativity that is always within us and within everyone.