Volume two: [ Training yourself to be more creative || Using the past to be creative in the present and future || Hang around creative people || Hypnagogic creativity exercise || Open monitoring meditation || Image streaming || Mind mapping || Free writing and journaling || Getting into flow states on purpose || Using brainwave entrainment for creativity || Regular short bursts of exercise || Strategies of genius – the Disney creative strategy || Children and creativity ]
Volume one: [ Creative mind basics || The role of trance states in creativity || Hypnagogia and creativity || Synaesthesia and creativity || Psychedelic states and creativity || Convergent versus divergent thinking || Meditation, mindfulness and creativity || Flow states and creativity || Creative brainwaves ]
As with any skill, practice makes perfect.
The more you get yourself into and use a creative state the easier it will be to do it again. And creativity is a skill that can be learnt or enhanced by anyone.
In this second volume we explore a few ways to train your creativity. Some you may be aware of and do already, while some may be new idea’s to experiment with. The ironic truth is that the ways to become more creative are only limited by your creativity. And rather than that sounding like a conflict in idea’s let me say it this way.
You already are creative. If you were not, you would not be reading this and would be totally dependant on others to live or even think. So this is about increasing an existing skill not developing a missing one.
Training yourself to be more creative
Here is where I repeat something I say often. The only way you can have a desire to be more creative is to have experienced being creative before. That may sound obvious to some but others believe they have never been creative.
The reality is that there is no concept of something without it’s opposite understanding or experience. So cold or a lack of heat without the understanding of hot is impossible as a concept. A lack of creativity by you therefore is only a real thing if the presence of creativity is known by you also.
Why do I mention this..?
Using the past to be creative in the present and future
Because even if you struggle to be creative now.., sometime in the past you will have been creative. And this means you can be creative again. One way to do this is to purposely re-access the creative state and transfer that existing skill to the present.
The specific idea that I am referring to is called conditioning or anchoring. Rather than explain the process here there is an article explaining how to use it in the coaching room section of this website.
Learn about anchoring and conditioning in this article:
The basic idea is to use a common unconscious principal of learning, consciously. In this case by re-creating a past experience of creativity so that the feeling state is back in the body and mind and creating a new neural pathway linking that state to a new context/time/situation.
And having this skill of anchoring.., you can also catch yourself being creative in the moment and both amplify it, and save it for later when you need to be creative but aren’t. A very useful skill to have. Especially when you learn new ways to be creative like the ones in this article. You can not only make yourself creative by doing the exercises or techniques.., but you can anchor that on the spot to use again later without needing the exercise or technique.
You can even re-access a drug state without the drug and use that state at will. That’s another topic though and beyond the scope of this article.
Learn how to anchor feelings on cue and transfer them/re-use them, and you will accelerate your personal development potentially faster than any other skill.
Hang around creative people
Seems obvious right. Have you ever heard the expression that you become the sum total of the 5 people you spend the most of your time with?
Creativity is infectious. Spending time with creative people will cause you to engage in conversations the inspire you to think the same way. You will likely adopt similar beliefs and styles of thinking.
Don’t know any creative people? I bet you do. But even so, spend some time listening to, or watching videos of, creative people or idea’s. By listening to new information you will make associations between the new information and what you already know. And this will cause your mind to process the information as you sleep leading to inspiration and creative idea’s.
Hypnagogic creativity exercise
Try Nikola Tesla’s strategy yourself. Get a ball or something that will either be felt or heard when it falls.
Have a notepad next to you for when idea’s pop into your mind.
Lie down and hold the ball in your hand with your hand either up so the ball falls next to you or on you.., or just over the edge of your bed so that the ball falls and makes a noise on the floor.
Each time you enter that hypnagogic state you will drop the ball and return to awareness ready to write down any inspirational sounds or visions that are fresh in your mind.
Or use technology in the same way as described under the ‘Using technology for creative genius’ section below.
Open monitoring meditation
In volume one I described the difference between focused attention (FA) meditation and open monitoring (OM) meditation.
OM meditation and mindfulness have things in common that are useful for enhancing creativity. The idea here is to encourage divergent thinking. So instead of focusing on one thing.., let your thoughts flow from one thing or observation to the next without judgement or analysis. Get in the habit of having a pen and paper next to you so that you can immediately make note of what you have experienced.
As an extension to Open Monitoring meditation try this.
This is a way to take advantage of the ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ idea in real time with a light trance.
Find yourself a comfortable place to sit or lie and close your eyes. Have next to you a recording device like your phone and start it recording.
As you start to drift in consciousness notice what images appear in your minds eye and describe them out loud in real time.
Doing this will cause the images to change and adjust. Keep describing them in detail as they change without trying to understand or analyse them. No judgement or preference for what you see. Just speak it out loud so that it gets recorded.
After 15 minutes or so stop and listen back to the recording. This time analyse what you saw and see if there are any creative insights or clues.
Popularised and formalised by Tony Buzan, mind maps are visual diagrams that show relationships between idea’s and information. They are a great way to brainstorm and as you’ve heard before a picture is worth a thousand words. A mindmap becomes a picture in your mind even if it just has words on it. There are plenty of tutorials online as to how to do this. The basic idea is to start with a central image, word or theme that is the topic to be ‘brainstormed’ and create flowing associations with words and/or images.
Try it.., use the image of the mindmap in this article as inspiration. Choose a theme and just go for it. Let as many arms and connections flow as you can. Use drawings and or words to expand outward from the central idea.
Free writing and journaling
This a a chance to get stuff out of your head and onto paper and is not just good for creative idea’s but also for processing emotions. Just write or type with no expectation or grammar or spellchecking. Let new idea’s flow into the writing even if the idea’s don’t make sense. Let your stream of thought be written down and lead you along a path of discovery. Journaling in theory is a little more structured but the idea of getting thoughts on paper is still what leads to aha moments and clarity of thought.
You will be surprised at where your mind will go if you let it. And when you write it down the result can often be enlightening.
Getting into flow states on purpose
Clarity and practice are key for flow states. A clear goal and an almost ritualistic set of actions will go a long way to helping you enter and stay in flow states. This isn’t a time for self consciousness or judgement.
Know what you want to achieve, set the right environment, and start! Action creates flow not the other way around. Use what you have already done in flow as a conditioned trigger to create more flow also. I’m like this with writing. I can answer the phone or the door or change to another task and then get straight back to writing again with almost no pause. What I tend to do is re-read the last paragraph that I wrote and this gets me straight back into the flow of continuing to write more.
If you create music, get into flow by listening to a piece you created with the intent to hear every detail. Or for painting, immerse yourself for a few minutes in the intricacies of your work. See the article (linked below) ‘Feel good consistently’ for how to use this idea of conditioning more fully. Sometimes even listening to music while working can put you in a flow state that transfers the music flow to the work.
As you get better at being in flow, it will happen more naturally and more often.
Learn to control your state in the presence of distraction rather than be at the mercy of it. How often have you seen a sportsperson be interrupted and then lose the momentum? By contrast some can be interrupted and then get back in flow immediately.
One way to practice this idea for example is to purposely meditate in noisy environments. If you can relax and go inwards in a busy crowded park, then you can probably relax and go inward anywhere.
Complete physical awareness
This is another way to enter flow states.., like a mindful walk somewhere new noticing as much detail as possible. As already mentioned, when you notice your environment and activities in a new detail oriented way and let this awareness ‘flow’ from point to point.., you enter a state of flow. In the same way, activities like climbing or fast games like table tennis that require focus to constantly changing details can get you into flow.
Create defined time limits for activity
Known as the pomodoro technique.., this is where instead of making sure you have no interruption, you purposely set a timer. The typical time limit is 25 minutes where your goal is to focus solely on the task at hand until the alarm goes off. Then have a 5 minute break before repeating. For some this will disrupt flow but for others this setting of limits allows for full emersion in a task.
Using brainwave entrainment for creativity
Knowing what brainwave frequencies are present during creativity and what states of mind can induce creativity opens up a potential way to become more creative with technology such as brainwave entrainment.
What would be most useful to entrain to for creative improvement will depend on your own habitual brain patterns and is covered more specifically in the creativity protocol in the roXiva RX1 owner VIP area. For example, if you are a bit of a daydreamer then it’s likely you already have a brainwave balance tipped toward lower frequencies. This will guide you to the correct protocol.
All of the methods of boosting creativity talked about so far can be mimicked or enhanced with audio visual brainwave entrainment. Trance, hypnagogia and psychedelic dissociation effects are all possible and indeed probable. And this leads to the use of such technology for enhancing creativity.
Photic based stroboscopic light machines in particular create a unique type of trance. See ‘Trance at the push of a button’ linked below for more specific details on that.
In particular the free flowing thought and imagery that occurs during a light and sound journey can lead to highly creative idea’s and states. These idea’s can be recorded in the moment via speech while using a hypnagogic type of trance session or afterwards in writing or drawing.
Repetition creates ease of state management
The brain patterns of creativity can be trained by repetition to access later. Or through self or guided suggestion during a trance state, you can reprogram your mind to enter these states more readily.
Added to that is the synchronising effect of whole brain excitation that entrainment has in improving inter-hemispheric communication (connection between right and left sides of the brain).
Even without any effort on your part to choose to improve your creativity, the likeliness is that spending more time in a trance induced creative mind state, will filter through to your awake state. This is just how the brain (and body) works. There is no replacement for ‘practice makes perfect’. Like I alluded to earlier.., flow states ARE a trance type of state.
Being able to do that at the push of a button is invaluable and a lot of fun.
Regular short bursts of exercise
Yes that’s right.., taking a break from mental activity has been shown scientifically to increase focus and attention, both of which are vital for creativity.
If you find yourself stuck in thought or lacking fluidity to your thinking.., move! Literally move. There is a correlation between the intensity of the exercise and the effect but a 20 min walk is still effective. And sometimes even just getting up and walking into another room can spark what is called an event boundary effect (see article linked below called ‘Mindfulness and changing personal reality through observation’).
This effect is what happens when you think of doing something and go to another part of your house to do it.., only to forget what it is you went to do. Your brain see’s the new room as a new situation discreet from the room you were in. And this can make you temporarily forget why you moved. Often going back into the room/space you were in when you made the decision can prompt your memory again.
Sometimes doing this on purpose can be beneficial, so take the time to move and do something unrelated for a few minutes at least. Better yet, go for a walk.
Strategies of genius – the Disney creative strategy
Years ago NLP trainer Robert Dilts wrote a series of books called ‘Strategies of genius’.
In them he outlined the results of modelling the mental and physical strategies of some of the genius’s of the past and present. One of those people was Walt Disney. And it’s this ‘Disney strategy’ that is one of the most useful and applicable to creativity.
Walt had a way of thinking that is now widely used in varying forms. In a sense Walt wore different personality ‘hats’ depending on the stage of thinking he wanted to be in.
There are three stages/personality traits to his thinking model and each has a physiological aspect as well as a mental aspect to them.
Those three stages are..,
The dreamer – Similar to the divergent style of thinking that has no bounds and is free flowing.
The realist/planner – Similar to the convergent style of thinking that seeks to find a way to make the dreamers idea’s doable.
The critic – A sort of miss-matcher thinking style that seeks to find potential problems and pitfalls with the idea’s generated by the realist from the dreamer.
Each personality/thinking style has it’s time as is not to be interrupted by the other. And what makes this style of creativity powerful is that the three stages get cycled in a loop in that order. So the dreamer comes up with idea’s.., the realist finds which ones of those idea’s are workable and how.., and the critic points out the possible dangers. And then.., the dreamer uses what the critic came up with to dream again from a new educated standpoint and the process continues. This usually goes on until the critic actually has little to object to and the idea is refined to the point of being not only possible to work but probable.
Sometimes the second or third loop does not require the dreamer to have much input so the loop ends up being between realist and critic. This is usually the case once you have an idea that the realist has identified as both doable and beneficial. The only further creativity needed then is to refine the idea.
Creative thinking in groups
Clever managers can use this same ‘Disney strategy’ principal to direct meetings. If you are a manager you will get to learn who fits most comfortably into each ‘personality’ trait.
Knowing this you can set the scene by first engaging the radical thinkers. Then ask those who are detail oriented “Could we or how could we make this work?” And finally by asking the people who tend to find problems with anything “What could go wrong with this?”
Your meetings will go much smoother and people who may be seen as negative may end up being seen as incredibly valuable.
We can all do each style of thinking.., it’s just some people are better at one or two than all three.
Using the Disney strategy yourself
Knowing the above, the process is quite simple and ties in with all the other idea’s in this article. Use your physiology to help you get into each personality mindset. As an added step you can setup a physical location for each. In that instance you move from one location to another to anchor each step to the location (EG: Three chairs facing a different direction). For the purposes of this example I will use a sitting position that changes for each step.
1) Think of an area you want to be creative in and adopt a physical position of dreaming. Lean back and look to the skies and let your thoughts wander. Literally look slightly upwards as this will activate a part of the brain that thinks visually. Record yourself speaking idea’s or write short notes as you come up with them. No judgement or dismissing of anything at this stage.
2) Now adopt a realist/planner position. Sit more upright and level your eyes. Ask yourself how you can make the dreamers idea’s a reality.
3) And next take on the position and characteristics of a critic. Sit a little forward.., maybe tilt your head slightly as if in doubt.., maybe a hand on your chin. Use your imagination for these stances and you will get a feel for it.
4) Take what you have arrived at from step three and adjust the idea with either a quick visit to the dreamer again or straight to the realist. Don’t change the dream.., this is now about refining it. Any new dreamer idea’s that don’t fit can be put to the side for another round.
With practice you will get very good at this and will not even notice yourself changing ‘hats’ while thinking creatively through an idea.
Children and creativity
Everything included in this article applies to all ages. Some will be more suited to older children but many are not reduced in effectiveness by age. The key is to make exercises fun. Make a game out of it for really young children. There is one study worth mentioning here though, as specific to children.
Look at the results of this year long study where children were taught how to empathise with others and then come up with ways to help them. At the beginning of the year the control group scored on average 11% higher in creativity tests than the experimental group. By the end of the year this had reversed dramatically and the experimental group now scored on average 78% higher in creativity tests than the control group. That’s a pretty big shift!
This result if adopted by schools and parents is both interesting and encouraging for our future.
Remember with all of this that creativity is a skill and not limited to intelligence or potential as much as what most people may think.
Enjoy experimenting with new idea’s and be creative in finding ways to be more creative 🙂