Words by Bonnie Bridges
Are you seeking an innovative solution to issues you are facing professionally or personally? Are you being called to produce results, but feeling a little uninspired? Perhaps you are endeavouring to simply live a more creative or thoughtful life.
To me, that flash of insight as a new idea enters the consciousness is a beautiful feeling. I love that “a-ha!” feeling. Here are six suggestions to get your brain cells (neurons) firing in novel ways.
Below are six possible strategies to stoke your creative fire. Some suggest more of an indirect approach to problem solving, for example, instead of tackling an issue head on, meditation or leaving it alone for a time could help.
Other suggestions are more directed, like consultation with trusted colleagues, friends, and family, or simply getting to task. Certainly there are other methods for cultivating innovative solutions, the following six are several of my favourites.
Happy innovating and creating!
Do something unusual
Try shaking up, challenging, and reversing habitual patterns to recruit new thoughts into the psyche. For example, if you typically religiously attend your favourite yoga teacher’s classes, endeavour instead to sample other teachers’ classes and genres for a week. If you usually wear trousers, play for a week with pretty dresses and skirts. If you normally sit and read on your commute to and from your work week responsibilities, try giving up your seat to people watch or simply stare out the window. Say yes to something you’d normally decline, and vice versa.
This may sound counterintuitive at first. A person who may be feeling under pressure to perform may find my asking them to sit or lay down for an attempt to do literally nothing at all jarring and unproductive. I implore you to give it a try. Studies in neuroscience have proven that mindfulness activities, like meditation, both increase the density of brain matter and its volume- literally a bigger brain with more connections between brain cells. Meditation can clear the mind, and in that created space, the potential for eureka moments is possible.
Try your hand at the games you’d find in the entertainment section of a newspaper or magazine, board games, or even a free app game on your device. I like playing number or word games, like sudoku or word scrambles, or games that tout brain boosting benefits. The caveat here is to not get sucked into some apps’ propensities to hook you with addictive reward mechanisms intended to keep you playing (and paying).
Consult with others
The act of bouncing thoughts around with others and creating dialogue about issues may just be enough fodder for that spark of insight to ignite something. A fresh or different set of eyes, bringing different lived experiences and worldviews can offer thoughts you may not have even considered. Through conversation, co-creation is possible. Alternatively, seek inspiration and exemplars from the works of others who have come before you. This can provide insight into what you like and dislike.
Paying attention to and being immersed in each unfolding moment of the day is a way of showing appreciation for the complex interplay of everyday existence. Tune in to the myriad world around each of us, at least for some time, daily. When one is present, flowing from one task to another is almost effortless. When the context or parameters drift in some other way in the following moments, attuned to it, we are able to adjust accordingly. If the intention is to watch a film, do only that. If the intention is to operate a motor vehicle, do only that. If the intention is to enjoy a dinner date, do only that. If the attention is divided and stretched, the likelihood of missing out on a subtle detail, a possible muse, increases.
Let go of the outcome and simply get going
You may find it less daunting to simply get to it, and, in a form of surrender, allow things to unfold as they will. “Winging it” is a skill. If your art is photography, simply take pictures; as more are taken, the creative eye is honed. If it’s a blank piece of sketch paper plaguing you, put pencil to paper and draw lines non-stop for a number of minutes. If it’s the blinking cursor of word processing software, simply start typing. Type quickly and furiously without thinking too much of what is being said. Exercises like these can serve as a mental warm up.
Bonnie Bridges is a yoga teacher, educator, and mala artist hailing from and living in northern British Columbia, Canada. A Chinese proverb highlights Bonnie’s personal values: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” She herself is an avid, lifelong learner, ever in a state of curiosity, discovery and inquiry.
Feel free to reach out to her. Connection is what it ultimately is all about.
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