I think it’s fair to say that we all think creativity is a positive trait to have. Many of us want it, but it can feel hard to unlock when we want it most. We simply don’t know where to start, and science doesn’t exactly know how to train us to be more creative, either. That’s where “flow states” come in.
Flow is defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best,” and when we are in flow, “every action, every decision, arises seamlessly from the last.” We become fully present in the moment, so honed in on the task at hand that everything else seems to fade into the background, and our very sense of self ultimately vanishes for a time. Time seems different too, moving either insanely fast or incredibly slow, and our performance excels.
But how do you ignite the flow-state creativity? Here are four science-backed ways to get you started:
1. Zone out to zone in.
It may seem strange to think that a wandering mind will ignite laser-sharp focus, but research has found that daydreaming can spark the creative thinking processes, and provoke those ‘aha’ moments. Daydreaming is a type of consciousness that’s unrestricted. Our thoughts float freely from one thing to another. Have you ever tried to brainstorm a connection from one thing to another, but that “other” seems entirely lost? Daydreaming creates connections between ideas you may never normally associate.
2. Try transcendental meditation.
Transcendental meditation is a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization through meditation, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices. Research has found that meditation techniques like TM ignite a heightened awareness of one’s thought processes and are therefore the most beneficial for creativity. Committing yourself to this practice regularly prior to tapping into your creative time can serve as a positive ritual and a tool to tell your brain it’s time to shut off the noise and enter the flow.
3. Wander through nature.
There are a lot of barriers between most of us and the natural world. We spend time in our cars, our offices, and our homes, but rarely amongst grass and trees and stones. The distractions of the man-made world can become overwhelming, and prove a huge blockage keeping you from igniting your creativity.
When you step into nature, you have the opportunity to leave behind conscious thought to boost your sense of vitality and well-being, thereby allowing for a clearer path to your core creativity. Research has found the benefits of getting lost in the woods for cognitive function and creative thinking processes, revealing that time spent with real earth under the feet can boost creativity by up to 50%.
4. Try a social media detox.
They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, and kicking the need to mindlessly scroll through Facebook and Instagram, check people’s every move on Snapchat, and document your own, can have incredible benefits for not only your productivity, but your creativity as well. A mind free of clutter leaves room for inspiration and breakthroughs.
“The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter,” explains productivity expert Cal Newport.
All in all, you can get into your flow-state and creativity with some simple methods that bring you back to centre, back to you. That is where all your creativity and purpose lies. Have fun!
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