Today’s modern machines are shifting jobs away from humans. But even though AI can process and synthesize data at lightning speeds, it can’t ideate. And while AI can progress from 1-100x faster than any human by detecting (and even learning from) patterns in data, it can’t make the creative leaps necessary to drive true innovation. Ultimately, it’s up to human beings to spark inspiration and creativity. Imagine your brain has empty space within it that can serve as an innovation lab; a place where you can freely conceive and flesh out exciting new ideas, fueled by your own inspiration. But much like an attic or garage storage room, your brain’s studio space is filled with clutter. You need to first clear it out so you have room to create. That’s exactly how meditation works–it allows you to escape within yourself and access the innovation lab inside your head. According to research from the Max Planck Institute of Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, meditation can change your brain over time. Participants in their study practiced different types of meditation over a three month period. The results were compelling–one group exhibited thickening in the prefrontal cortex (where the brain handles complex thinking, attention and personality), and another showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Meditation has obvious benefits, but how can you fit it into your life?
In this fast-paced world where everyone is over-scheduled and overwhelmed, it may seem impossible to find time to meditate. Here are five ways to work in small doses of calm throughout your day:
- Moving meditation
Nourish your body and mind through exercise that makes it easier to access your “creative control center.” Walking, running, Pilates, yoga and bike riding all offer repetitive motions that let your body run on autopilot as you shut off distractions and let your creativity run free. Start with a problem you need to solve or a concept that requires your attention. Then, simply focus on the rhythm of your breath as you concentrate on your thoughts. The ideas will begin to flow....
- Wash off the day
When you step into the shower, step into your internal innovation lab. Let your senses take over–feel the water hitting your skin, smell the refreshing soapy lather and listen to the sound of the droplets raining down on the tile–so your brain is free to focus on new ideas.
- Maximize time with loved ones
While walking the dog or playing with your kids, again, zone in on solving one problem or sparking one idea, and then simply focus on the task at hand.
Use the minutes before you fall asleep or when you first wake up to lay quietly. Target each part of your body and fully relax so your mind can slip into your private innovation lab to get some work done.
- While you wait
We all spend a lot of time waiting: n line, on hold, whatever. Regardless of the situation, we tend to get stressed because we focus on what we’ve lost versus what we’ve gained. Consider every unwelcome delay as a valuable gift. Use those minutes to generate some new ideas or solve a problem to fuel your confidence.
Regardless of the meditation route you take, think of it as the best kind of tool! it’s free, it’s accessible and it’s beneficial to everyone. It’s also personal and there are no rules, so redefine meditation for yourself.
You don’t need to set aside hours every day to don headphones in a stimulant free dark room. Practice meditating on your own terms and you’ll likely discover a tranquil, safe mental place that is engaging (aka creatively productive), simply because you are not engaged in anything else.
Book an appointment with yourself to simplify and focus–even if you can only start by leveraging those small daily doses I suggested. The more you meditate, the more fuel you’ll have for your innovation lab. In truth, you're next, best idea could be just one shower away.