There are probably many ways we can improve our creativity but some scientists are focusing their efforts on finding out how that happens; studying what’s going on in our brains, when we experience ‘insight’.
In the BBC’s Horizon programme ‘The Creative Brain‘ these scientists conduct experiments which track brain activity via an EEG cap, as problems are solved by volunteers. The results of these show that certain parts of the brain are activated, while other parts have reduced activity.
One of the scientists, Prof John Kounios was interested in what precedes the ‘insight’ moment; his studies show that ideas float around in our unconscious mind, until the time is right for it to ‘bubble up’ into our awareness. He believes that if your attention is focused on inwardly solving a problem, then the brain cuts off using alpha waves to achieve this, reducing distractions as it does so. This helps summon new ideas into awareness.
His suggestion to become more creative and to have more insights, is to try cutting off from outside distractions.
In this space we can find solutions and new ways of doing things. We diverge from the norm.
Divergent thinking is what we probably know by another name – thinking outside the box. It’s the skill of diverging from known ideas to come up with something novel, similar to the generative skills explained in the previous post.
Some people find divergent thinking extremely difficult while others, such as musicians, easily adapt and can improvise quickly. Changes in the brain, such as shut down of the pre-frontal cortex (which has been termed the ‘Gatekeeper’) allows the active watching mind to rest and permits the creative one to become more active – making new thinking pathways in the process.
What is being discussed here in simple terms, is that when we create the correct environment AND provide space without distractions, we improve our creativity and expand our awareness. The Gatekeeper could also be known as the ego; the conscious part of us which tries to avoid the negative, or anything which threatens our state of well-being.
Later in the programme, scientist Simone Ritten shows her experiment to alter cognitive patterns of behaviour; a virtual reality programme designed to ‘startle and shake’ up her volunteers – by subverting the laws of physics.
“Simone’s aim is to disrupt our ‘functional fixed-ness’ – that’s a mental block, where your thinking gets stuck in a rut”.
She believes that new and unexpected experiences can boost our creativity.
She advises people to look for these unexpected experiences; to break our routines and to do simple tasks which we do normally, in a different way. This is called ‘schema violation’ – breaking usual patterns and enabling our brain to create new pathways; new ways of thinking. Her example was to make a sandwich in reverse order. The effect of changing routines, changes the brain’s way of thinking.
This is where Transformational Training has its very own niche – it is designed to do exactly that; to disrupt our functional fixed-ness while giving the brain perception-altering information to process. It’s experiential and it’s crucial to releasing the fears and self-imposed limitations we set.
Transformational training, like board breaking or glasswalking, is also designed to help you release those ‘mental handcuffs’ while inducing feelings of well-being and confidence in the self; in our abilities and in achieving more of our potential. In Team Building we share the experience – we share the process, the fears, the success both at an individual level and as a group. We create new pathways, transforming beliefs and attitudes to achieve new ways of doing things together.
We change the way we view things – change the way we approach things – and ultimately change the way we deal with them, most especially when we have a common aim or a vision to follow.
Transformational training simply provides access to our innate personal power; it’s also the key to unlocking the creativity of your team – so today, do something different to achieve something different!
Coming soon; A full account of a friend’s Solo Firewalk – a challenge undertaken recently to overcome immobility caused by fear and personal challenges.