Jeffrey Davis, M.A. has written a wonderful article in Psychology Today about embodied creativity. He asks,

“Why do new ideas and solutions surface to awareness when we’re away from the studio and instead gardening or fixing a fence or stacking wood or walking or running? There’s more to explaining the dance between the body’s movement and the mind’s lights than saying the brain’s executive planning network is relaxed and that the frontal cortex’s brain wave patterns have shifted from beta to alpha.

We know now, I hope, that being creative consistently—from ideation to block-busting to execution to launch & ship—involves much more than sitting and thinking. The body is not merely a shell.

Now that he mentions it, there DOES seem to be a body/mind split in the ‘creativity for business’ literature. Most of the studies focus on thinking processes, not embodied learning. Davis has compiled some intriguing research on embodied learning with implications for creatives.

“The artist takes the body with her,” Maurice Merleau-Ponty noted a few decades ago. The rest of the body—movement, gesture, musculature, autonomic functions—shapes how thought happens. At least that’s what some scientists are tracking. The implications could be significant for how we learn, create, and work.

Some examples:

Andy Clark —professor of logic and metaphysics in the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences at Edinburgh University, and author of Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension— asserts the mind is not contained within the gray matter.

David McNeill  posits the  idea that gestures induce imagery and facilitate language, in his book Gesture and Thought (University of Chicago Press, 2005). McNeill founded the McNeill Lab: Center for Gesture and Speech Research to pursue this line of thinking and learning at the of The University of Chicago .

Implications:  Davis says, “We can learn how physical movements can stimulate the imagination and language for learning, problem-solving, and creative work.”

I’ve always maintained we have ‘knowing hands’, and we can discover creative insights by building, molding, shaping and sculpting ideas, not just talking about them. For me embodied learning occurs when we interact with subject matter aesthetically, emotionally, and/or physically. Embodied learning awakens intelligence within, that may not have been previously available.

I often ask business managers to answer a question with their hands — by painting an image or building something with clay. Once they have created something they tell a story about it, and new insights surface. We have knowing hands, because our mind is not only in our brain, it is also embodied through our senses.

Read the full article here:  Science of Creativity Moves Into the Body | Psychology Today.

Related topics:

Arts in Business: Applying arts based learning to organisations

Aesthetic Intelligence: Reclaim the Power of Your Senses

Reflections on Working with Centers of Excellence

Leadership Craft Leadership Art