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If you have been looking for a way to boost your creative juices, you might want to try meditation. Researchers at Leiden University have published a report in Frontiers in Cognition noting the benefits of certain types of meditation in promoting creativity.
For many years, both conventional and integrative physicians have been touting the stress reduction and relaxation benefits of meditation, and scores of studies have supported these claims. Meditation has demonstrated health advantages in cancer patients, individuals with asthma, people experiencing emotional distress, and those suffering with a variety of chronic diseases.
Meditation also can have a long-lasting impact on human cognition, according to cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and her team of researchers, including how we think and how we experience situations.
To test that effect, the team enrolled a group of volunteers and analyzed two different types of meditation—Open Monitoring and Focused Attention–on the two main ingredients of creativity, divergent thinking and convergent thinking.
Divergent thinking is a process that allows individuals to generate many new ideas, while convergent thinking involves focusing on one possible solution for a specific problem. The investigators found that Open Monitoring meditation helped volunteers perform better in divergent thinking and generated more creativity than previously possible, while Focused Attention produced a different result and had no significant impact on convergent thinking that leads to problem resolution.
One important conclusion from this study is that “This suggests that not all types of meditation have the same effect, which might explain why previous studies failed to provide unequivocal evidence for positive effects of meditation on creativity.”
Colzato LS et al. Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking. Frontiers in Psychology 2012 Apr 18