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Different Meditation Techniques Influence Creativity Differently

Posted on Apr 14, 2013

Different Meditation Techniques Influence Creativity Differently

There are lots of articles and studies floating about the web that discuss meditation and its influence on creativity, but I’ve always wondered if one technique is more effective than another when it comes to problem solving and creative thinking. What’s the difference between focused-attention and open-monitoring meditation, and how does it affect creativity?

A study on the site Frontiers in Cognition (see it here) discusses how meditation affects creativity. This study seeks to address how the two different approaches to meditation impact creativity and if one is more effective than the other. In focused-attention (FA) meditation, the individual focuses on a particular item, though, or object, such as the breath or a mantra. All thoughts, sensations, noises, and disturbances are actively ignored by redirecting attention back to the focus point. In open-monitoring (OM) meditation, the individual is open to perceive and observe any sensation or thought without focusing on a fixed item, making it extremely flexible and unrestricted. They sought in the study to see which meditation technique influenced divergent thinking, such as brainstorming, with the goal being to develop as many solutions or scenarios as possible. They also looked for influence on convergent thinking, many thoughts and ideas are “boiled down” into one well-thought-out solution. They were conducting the study based on the belief that the different ways of thinking are in different cognitive-control states.

istock_brain-300x300The study confirmed their predictions that focused-attention meditation more heavily influences divergent thinking and open-monitoring meditation more heavily influences convergent thinking. What does this actually mean to us less scientific folk?

Different methods of meditation actually influence different cognitive states. They suggested many other meditation studies may not be completely accurate because they may or may not be using different meditation techniques and reaching different states of mind. They really touted the effects of OM on creativity, as it “restructures cognitive processing to a degree that is robust and general enough to affect performance in another, logically unrelated task.” Basically, it helps us strengthen our divergent-thinking skills, which in my opinion is highly valuable in this day and age with how we conduct our lives and daily routines.

This study, albeit a bit too scientifically written for my brain to grasp, led me to do more research on open-monitoring meditation, as most of the influences I have had thus far have been more focused and mindfulness. I am intrigued by how many techniques are out there to learn and how each technique comes with its own set of influences on cognition, emotion, and function. All techniques are beneficial in their own way. Meditation is one of those beautiful things in life that grows in benefits the more we use it.

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