Meditation For Creativity: Interview with Dr. Lorenza Colzato

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“[Our studies found that] Open Monitoring meditation induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking, a style of thinking that allows many new ideas of being generated. Second, Focused Attention meditation does not sustain convergent thinking, the process of generating one possible solution to a particular problem.” ~ Colzato, Lorenza S. et al.

Dr. Lorenza Colzato is a cognitive scientist and researcher at the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition in the Netherlands. Her recent research revealed that meditation can boost your creativity. Specifically, Colzato found that open monitoring meditation (such as when you notice different thoughts and feelings) improves divergent thinking, which is the kind of thought process that helps you brainstorm many ideas. Further, she suspects that meditation enhances creative thinking by improving people’s moods. We asked her a few questions about her research, which you can read in full here.

What inspired your research?

Steve Jobs, who is a very inspirational person. He is arguably one of the most creative minds of our time and he dedicated his life to Soto Zen Buddhist meditation practice.

Steve Jobs has often referred to meditation as the main source of creativity. So, I wanted to test the idea that indeed meditation makes you more creative.

What practical insights can someone take from your study?

The practical lesson for people is that if they need to do a brain storm session at work, they could do an open monitoring meditation (such as Vipassana) before it. By doing so, they will be able  to generate even more new ideas. So, in this respect practitioners could change “when” they meditate.

Do you have any future research planned?

Currently we are investigating how much practice is necessary to obtain meditation effects on creativity and whether this effect is due to a trait (of being an individual interested in meditation), a state (ad-hoc induced by meditation), or both. To test for these possibilities, we are comparing a group of practitioners and a group of novices.

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