Charles Dickens was devoted to long daily walks, even in the depths of winter. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas came to him while wandering in the forest. Henry Thoreau sat in his rocking chair to think. These creative men understood something about their brains that science has only recently explained – that mental work can be aided by our physical practices.
Taking steps to calm one’s brain and reduce mental distractions creates an ideal setting for brilliant insights. Trevor Blake explains in this article how taking 20 minutes to calm the left side of the brain, the one that preoccupies itself with incessant to-do lists, can result in surprisingly faster thinking:
“Once we stop distracting the brain with menial everyday worries and tasks, we release it to work at its maximum speed long enough for the brilliant ideas that are constantly fired at us to come into our awareness.”For anyone who ‘creates’ for a living, it’s hard to imagine anything more fabulous than having a reliable method to generate creativity. Here is Blake’s 5-step plan to start calming your brain.
1. Do it early in the morning.It is easiest to stay calm when your brain isn’t completely awake and the sensory distraction of the day has not yet begun. Unless you’re a meditation expert, trying to still your mind in the middle of the day can be very challenging.
2. Create a solitary, comfortable setting that’s inviting.Calming your brain requires you to be alone so that you can invite individual inspiration. Choose a space carefully, preferably one that's away from distracting noises or sights. Put a soft chair in a corner with a warm blanket to keep you cozy while you sit and focus on calming your brain.
3. Cleanse your energy.Rub your hands together vigorously until you feel heat, then place them on your temples and drag your palms down your cheeks. Shake your hands as if air-drying them, and repeat this two more times. Do the same for your forehead three times, and then cross your arms and brush your hands over the opposite shoulders and upper arms three times.
4. Relax, breathe, and sigh.Always sit upright to prevent falling asleep. With your feet on the floor, breathe deeply and exhale with an audible sigh, visualizing the breath filling your body. Repeat until your entire body feels deeply relaxed.
5. Distract your left (logical) brain to maintain a blank slate.Follow the path of your breathing for 10-15 minutes, while pushing unrelated thoughts out of your mind. This is tough to do, but keep practicing. The purpose is to still the part of the brain that inhibits creativity and spontaneity.
According to Blake, this practice produces the best results if you do it daily.
Do you have a meditation practice? What techniques work best for you?