Scientific study explores connection between meditation and creativity

How interesting! Cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and her fellow researchers at Leiden University used creativity tasks that measure convergent and divergent thinking to assess which meditation techiques most influence creative activities.

Journal Abstract:

The practice of meditation has seen a tremendous increase in the western world since the 60s. Scientific interest in meditation has also significantly grown in the past years; however, so far, it has neglected the idea that different type of meditations may drive specific cognitive-control states. In this study we investigate the possible impact of meditation based on focused-attention (FA) and meditation based on open-monitoring (OM) on creativity tasks tapping into convergent and divergent thinking. We show that FA meditation and OM meditation exert specific effect on creativity. First, OM meditation induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking, a style of thinking that allows many new ideas of being generated. Second, FA meditation does not sustain convergent thinking, the process of generating one possible solution to a particular problem. We suggest that the enhancement of positive mood induced by meditating has boosted the effect in the first case and counteracted in the second case.

Open Monitoring and Focused Attention meditation techniques

Open monitoring meditation calls for you to watch your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them. With open monitoring, you learn to observe the ebb and flow of “mind chatter” in a detached way — not following a thought. This type of meditation helps you to be more flexible emotionally and, like focused attention, less reactive to negative emotional events.

Focused attention meditation involves maintaining moment-to-moment focus on your breath, a sound, or an object. With focused attention, when the mind wanders away from the point of focus, you continually return to that object of attention. It helps you concentrate with little effort and helps you remain calm in the presence of negative emotional events.

Lorenza S. Colzato, Ayca Ozturk, Bernhard Hommel. “Meditate to Create: The Impact of Focused-Attention and Open-Monitoring Training on Convergent and Divergent Thinking.” Frontiers in Psychology, 2012; 3 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00116