In this issue ~~
* Increasing Your Creativity Flow
* Creative Tip
* Wise Words
Your Creativity Flow
Those of us who are in creative professions, as well as those
who depend on their creativity in other aspects of their lives,
have learned that creativity is not constant; it ebbs and flows.
While creativity can't be forced, there are ways to enhance body,
mind and spirit to increase the flow.
"Creativity catalyst" Linda Naiman, an expert on
bringing creativity into the workplace, offers us a number of
ways to do this.
~ Feed your brain
While we know that creativity comes from beyond the brain,
the brain is the "receiver" through which your creativity
is channeled. You want to find foods that nourish it and avoid
those that "sedate" or tranquilize it. Since the brain
runs on glucose, which is best produced from complex carbohydrates,
foods such as mashed potatoes and barley can help improve memory.
Over the long term, Naiman suggests nourishing the brain with
foods high in vitamin B, such as peas, beans, liver, kidney,
chicken, eggs. The mineral boron is excellent for memory and
attention; sources include apples, pears and green leafy vegetables.
Other foods that are good for the brain include blueberries,
fish and shellfish(for the protein).
Caffeine can stimulate the brain (although you may choose
to avoid it or use it selectively for other reasons). Avoid sugar
and fat -- that yummy chocolate bar will give you quick energy,
and just as quickly put you to sleep!
Let's not forget those popular herbs, gingko biloba and gotu
kola, available in most health food stores and many pharmacies.
(Do check with your health care practitioner before taking these.)
And don't forget to drink lots of water!
Exercise can heal a multitude of ills, as well as stimulating
stuck creativity. When we're sedentary, our minds also tend to
be sluggish or undisciplined. Naiman recommends rhythmic activities
like running, walking, swimming, scrubbing and chopping to quiet
mindful chatter and allow imagination to flow.
For others, activities like yoga, tai chi or chi gong can
help you get relaxed, centered and focused. There are several
excellent 15-20 minute exercise videos, or keep a little stepper
machine close by for a quick, easy workout. Or combine exercise
and play with a good game of tennis or racquetball.
A great deal of research has been done recently on the effect
of music on brain function. Students who sing or play an instrument
have been found to score significantly higher on their SAT scores
than the national average. Along with reducing stress, classical
music, from the Mozart era in particular, contributes to the
improvement of higher brain functions, including the ability
to deal with logical and mathematical concepts.
According to Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect, "The music
of Mozart, Gregorian chant, and some jazz, New Age, Latin, pop
and even rock music can strengthen the mind, unlock the creative
spirit, and, miraculously, even heal the body." Different
people hear and process music in different ways, so choose the
style that works best for you.
Conversely, do your best to avoid noise. It can fatigue and
distract you. And don't hesitate to combine music with exercise.
Doing exercise to stimulating music can lessen fatigue and release
endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.
Most of us have been taught from an early age that daydreaming
is a waste of time. But many creative breakthroughs have come
from both day and night dreams. Daydreaming is a way to incubate
the components of a problem and uncover solutions. In daydreaming,
you temporarily dissolve the boundaries of rational thought and
look for new perspectives that may come to you through images,
thoughts and metaphors.
According to authors Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold, "Many
of the greatest scientific insights, discoveries and revolutionary
inventions appeared first to their creators as fantasies, dreams,
trances, lightning-flash insights, and other non-ordinary states
of consciousness." Their book, Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious
for Breakthrough Insights, describes scientific breakthroughs
that have come about from daydreams and accessing the unconscious.
"I think most of us work too hard and we don't take enough
time to play," Naiman says. "Play generates joy and
replenishes and revitalizes our human spirit. It clears the mental
cobwebs that keep us from thinking clearly. Play frees us from
worry and stress, relaxing the brain and making it easier to
be more creative."
We live in a society that promotes work, work, work. We put
in 60-80 hour weeks and constantly strive for more achievement.
But you can't do great work without personal fulfillment. Play
is crucial to attaining a work/life balance, and the quality
of our work suffers if we don't take the time to play. Remember,
creativity is predominantly a right-brain activity, and it's
harder to stimulate that when you're dwelling permanently in
your left brain. Like daydreaming, play is pivotal to creation.
And don't forget to laugh! Doug Hall, in his book, Jump Start Your Brain, reminds us that,
"You can increase your brain power three- to fivefold simply
by laughing and having fun before working on a problem."
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you take the time
to observe your breathing, you may discover that your breathing
is shallow or strained. Breath is the life force and essential
to stimulating the mind. Seek out one of numerous books and tapes
available to help you deepen and relax your breathing. Several
traditions, such as yoga, offer instruction on breathing technique.
One such exercise from the yoga tradition is called Kapala
Bhati. This practice purifies the head area, clears mental cobwebs,
calms the mind and the breath. Naiman describes it as "a
series of forced exhalations: exhale quickly and lightly through
the nose, letting the inhalation occur as a natural reflex. Do
this for up to one minute, then rest and breathe normally. Repeat
exhalations. Begin with 3 rounds of 30 exhalations and gradually
increase to 10 rounds of 60." [IMPORTANT: Persons with high
blood pressure or lung disease should not practice this exercise.]
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to produce a particular
effect. For the purpose of creativity, Naiman recommends peppermint,
cypress or lemon to energize, or ylang ylang, geranium or rose
Essential oils can be used individually or in combination.
In The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy,
author Valerie Ann Worwood suggests a combination of basil, cardamom,
ginger and black pepper for concentration. To stimulate the right
brain, you might choose bergamot, neroli, grapefruit, geranium,
birch or coriander.
Essential oils can be prepared and used in various ways. Naiman
suggests putting 10 - 15 drops in the bath with a little almond
oil. You can also put a few drops on a disk (available at an
aromatherapy outlet) and put it on a light bulb; the heat from
the light disperses the scent. Consult a book such as Worwood's
for additional uses.
~ Feed your soul
Constantly driving yourself or spending hours behind office
walls eventually becomes counterproductive. Just as you need
to nourish your body, you need to nourish your soul. Naiman says,
"When people are growing through learning and creativity,
they are much more fulfilled.... Remember what you loved to do
as a child and bring the essence of that activity into your work."
She cites a January 1998 "Fortunate Magazine" article,
stating that "research shows that highly motivated employees
are up to 127% more productive than averagely motivated employees
in high complexity jobs."
Along with daydreaming, play and exercise, take time to pursue
hobbies you enjoy. Find ways to bring beauty into your home,
your office and your life. Spend time with people you find enjoyable
and stimulating. Make feeding your soul as important as feeding
~ Build a brain trust
Prime your creative pump by reading magazines on number of
topics. Surround yourself with bright and inspiring people from
a wide variety of fields who encourage you and stimulate your
creativity. The added benefit is that you will begin to see yourself
as bright and inspiring, too!
~ Follow your intuition
Very often, we have creative insights, but dismiss them as
too far out or impractical. Naiman encourages us to "follow
the path that gives you the most joy. Learn to trust and listen
to your inner guidance. Developing and following your intuition
keeps you a few steps ahead of the pack."
So eat well, exercise, breathe, lighten up and enjoy life,
and your creativity will benefit as well!
(Thanks, Linda Naiman, for a wealth of great ideas!)
Linda Naiman BFA, is founder of Linda Naiman & Associates
Inc. (Vancouver, BC) a consulting and training group at the forefront
of transformational change through creativity and innovation.
Linda works with corporate and public sector organizations, to
develop their skill sets in applying creativity, innovation and
visionary thinking to business strategy. Linda is a lifelong
artist, whose paintings are part of private collections and film
productions. Her writings on creativity and innovation have appeared
in numerous business publications, including "Perspectives
on Global Change," published by The World Business Academy.
Visit her website at http://www.creativityatwork.com.
If you're feeling particularly stuck and uninspired, take
a "creativity day." Spend the day pampering and nourishing
body and soul. You may feel like you're losing precious work
time, but when you do go back to work, you'll find yourself accomplishing
your tasks with greater ease.
"Humor and creativity are kissing cousins. If you want
to develop your sense of humor, invite more creativity into your
life -- and vice versa. In the presence of humor, new creative
perspectives naturally occur. You can't stop them."
~ Joel Goodman, founder and director of The Humor Project
"Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells.
Stress is not a good idea."
~ Doug Hall, Jump Start Your Brain
"I don't really feel your brainpower needs boosting.
If anything, it needs celebrating, for you already have enough
active brain cells inside you to accomplish many great things
in your life."
~ Thomas Armstrong, PhD, 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing
Your Many Intelligences
(click on the book, tape or CD graphic to
see a description at Amazon.com)
Your Miracle Brain
. . . Jean Carper
Mind Boosters: A Guide
to Natural Supplements That Enhance Your Mind, Memory, and Mood
. . . Ray Sahelian
12-Minute Total Body
Workout . . . Joyce L. Vedral
The Mozart Effect: Tapping
the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and
Unlock the Creative Spirit . . . Don G. Campbell
Higher Creativity: Liberating
the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights . . . Willis
Harman and Howard Rheingold
Jump Start Your Brain
. . . Doug Hall
Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery
. . . Gay Hendricks
Breathing: The Master
Key to Self Healing . . . Andrew Weil (CD)
The Daydream Workbook:
Learning the Art of Decoding Your Daydreams . . . Robert
Daydream and Draw . . . Don Campbell (audiocassette)
The Complete Book of
Essential Oils & Aromatherapy . . . Valerie Ann Worwood
and Remedies: Over 800 Recipes for Everyday Use . . . Franzesca
© 2001 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.