What are the similarities between meditation and creative thinking?
Fundamentally, both meditation and creative thinking comprise two things: observing thinking and directing attention.
Observing thinking or ‘metacognition’ trains us to notice our thinking patterns. We can see how our minds responds to different events and highlight our cognitive habits and conditioned responses. This practice can be found in meditation and in thinking tools like mind mapping or Six Thinking Hats.
In meditation this is sometimes called ‘awareness’ or ‘mindfulness’.
This awareness is wider than ‘thinking’ as it also deals with observing feelings and unconscious instinct.
Meditation also teaches us to direct our attention – to the breath, a part of the body or maybe a single image or sound.
In a similar way, thinking tools like Edward de Bono’s PMI can direct our attention to offer different perceptions. In PMI, the user is required to consider an idea or object from three perspectives: Plus, Minus and Interesting.
By directing attention, we can choose a new angle of perception or even to ignore a thought.
Since many actions start as thoughts, awareness can prevent harmful actions by not engaging with harmful thinking.
We can engage only with useful impulses and choose which perception to follow. These practises can benefit the individual both in life and work.
Learning not to engage with an angry impulse can prevent arguments. Learning to examine our work from different perspectives can help us see something from the user’s point of view and take our work in new directions.