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  • Written by  Ian Gawler
  • // Tuesday, 04 December 2012 10:22
Ian Gawler

Meditation and Creativity

If Jackson Pollock was the archetypal boozing, tortured artist, would he have painted anything worthwhile if he had found inner peace? Or would he have been an even better painter if he had indeed found inner peace.

If Steve Jobs was the super-cool Zen creator, would Apple even have come into existence if he had not meditated?

If, as Spike Milligan said “it is all in the mind”, how does sitting quietly to train your mind through meditation build creativity?

Maybe it is because of the type of mind meditation produces.

A calm and clear mind

Leave a glass of muddy water undisturbed; the mud settles and we are left with clear water. The mind is the same. Left undisturbed, it becomes calm and clear. Then comes the capacity to recognize simplicity amongst complexity. For Jobs, this led to Apple’s elegant, functional design.

The beginner’s mind

As the mind settles and becomes less agitated, there comes a certain freshness. The capacity to bring a new perspective to the commonplace. Meditation fosters curiosity, awe and wonderment.

The focused mind

But for creativity to advance from being a good idea to a manifest work, we need concentration and grounded application. Training the mind through meditation is like going to the gym to develop physical muscles. Going inwards, we develop inner strength and things get done.


So often good ideas, insights, creativity, get hijacked, diluted, destroyed by the events of ordinary daily life. Trauma from the past, fear for the future, the pressures of modern living, all conspire to overwhelm creativity. Mindfulness teaches us to let go of unhelpful concerns for past and future and to function more joyfully in the present moment.

The wisdom mind

Science has much to offer, but is based on the intellect, which is analytical and linear, and has little to do with creativity. For true creativity, we need to go beyond the realm of the intellect. Not to become irrational, but non-rational, beyond-rational; and to access that deeper, more profound inner world of wisdom and creativity; this is what true meditation offers.

Put all this together and learning to relax, to be more mindful and to meditate, may well be one of the most direct and effective ways to increase our creativity.