Meditating on creativity in 2017
As we kick off the near year 2017, with all the uncertainty of Trump and Brexit it brings, there’s one thing we *are* certain of: 21st century living is stressful. Smartphones and screens bring a tidal wave of information and stimulation, too much caffeine (and sugar), not to mention commuting! And that’s not even considering social, work and family commitments. As a result, more people than ever before suffer with stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, digestive issues and burnout.
And we’re not keen on that at all. Wellbeing plays a big part of life in the DG+P’s studio: our office snacks are healthy; we have flexible working, discount gym membership and lots more besides. But keeping our minds fit and healthy? We can always do more. So we had meditation teacher Will Williams come visit to talk about how meditation can be a great antidote to modern living, with some surprising benefits including enhanced creativity, problem solving and productivity. But how does this actually work?
Will explained it to us: "It all comes down to a part of the brain called the amygdala. It’s responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction in the brain; when our ancestors were faced with a threat like a sabre-tooth tiger, this response would prepare our bodies for survival. Nowadays the same reaction fires off in our nervous systems when we receive an email or hear a car alarm, as our brain perceives these as major threats and stress/anxiety causing hormones and neurochemicals flood our systems. This stress causes the shutdown of the frontal lobes of our brain, which impedes our creativity, lateral thinking and sense of flow.”
The good news is that the Vedic meditation that Will teaches – the internal repetition of a personalised mantra (sound) to enter into a state of deep calmness - is increasingly believed to be able to dampen down the stress response. It works by shrinking the amygdala and increasing the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex, associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making. In short, our primal stress response to stimulation gets weaker and our mindful responses far stronger, leading to a reduction in background anxiety and stress, enabling us to be more productive, motivated and less affected by stress.
Sounds great. And several of the DG+P team are already enrolled on various meditation courses. Let's hope 2017 is as stress-free as possible for everyone...