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Issue 34

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In this issue ~~

* Increasing Your Creativity Flow

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Increasing Your Creativity Flow

Those of us who are in creative professions, as well as those who depend on their creativity in other aspects of their lives, have learned that creativity is not constant; it ebbs and flows. While creativity can't be forced, there are ways to enhance body, mind and spirit to increase the flow.

"Creativity catalyst" Linda Naiman, an expert on bringing creativity into the workplace, offers us a number of ways to do this.

~ Feed your brain

While we know that creativity comes from beyond the brain, the brain is the "receiver" through which your creativity is channeled. You want to find foods that nourish it and avoid those that "sedate" or tranquilize it. Since the brain runs on glucose, which is best produced from complex carbohydrates, foods such as mashed potatoes and barley can help improve memory.

Over the long term, Naiman suggests nourishing the brain with foods high in vitamin B, such as peas, beans, liver, kidney, chicken, eggs. The mineral boron is excellent for memory and attention; sources include apples, pears and green leafy vegetables. Other foods that are good for the brain include blueberries, fish and shellfish(for the protein).

Caffeine can stimulate the brain (although you may choose to avoid it or use it selectively for other reasons). Avoid sugar and fat -- that yummy chocolate bar will give you quick energy, and just as quickly put you to sleep!

Let's not forget those popular herbs, gingko biloba and gotu kola, available in most health food stores and many pharmacies. (Do check with your health care practitioner before taking these.) And don't forget to drink lots of water!

~ Exercise

Exercise can heal a multitude of ills, as well as stimulating stuck creativity. When we're sedentary, our minds also tend to be sluggish or undisciplined. Naiman recommends rhythmic activities like running, walking, swimming, scrubbing and chopping to quiet mindful chatter and allow imagination to flow.

For others, activities like yoga, tai chi or chi gong can help you get relaxed, centered and focused. There are several excellent 15-20 minute exercise videos, or keep a little stepper machine close by for a quick, easy workout. Or combine exercise and play with a good game of tennis or racquetball.

~ Music

A great deal of research has been done recently on the effect of music on brain function. Students who sing or play an instrument have been found to score significantly higher on their SAT scores than the national average. Along with reducing stress, classical music, from the Mozart era in particular, contributes to the improvement of higher brain functions, including the ability to deal with logical and mathematical concepts.

According to Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect, "The music of Mozart, Gregorian chant, and some jazz, New Age, Latin, pop and even rock music can strengthen the mind, unlock the creative spirit, and, miraculously, even heal the body." Different people hear and process music in different ways, so choose the style that works best for you.

Conversely, do your best to avoid noise. It can fatigue and distract you. And don't hesitate to combine music with exercise. Doing exercise to stimulating music can lessen fatigue and release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.

~ Daydream

Most of us have been taught from an early age that daydreaming is a waste of time. But many creative breakthroughs have come from both day and night dreams. Daydreaming is a way to incubate the components of a problem and uncover solutions. In daydreaming, you temporarily dissolve the boundaries of rational thought and look for new perspectives that may come to you through images, thoughts and metaphors.

According to authors Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold, "Many of the greatest scientific insights, discoveries and revolutionary inventions appeared first to their creators as fantasies, dreams, trances, lightning-flash insights, and other non-ordinary states of consciousness." Their book, Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights, describes scientific breakthroughs that have come about from daydreams and accessing the unconscious.

~ Play

"I think most of us work too hard and we don't take enough time to play," Naiman says. "Play generates joy and replenishes and revitalizes our human spirit. It clears the mental cobwebs that keep us from thinking clearly. Play frees us from worry and stress, relaxing the brain and making it easier to be more creative."

We live in a society that promotes work, work, work. We put in 60-80 hour weeks and constantly strive for more achievement. But you can't do great work without personal fulfillment. Play is crucial to attaining a work/life balance, and the quality of our work suffers if we don't take the time to play. Remember, creativity is predominantly a right-brain activity, and it's harder to stimulate that when you're dwelling permanently in your left brain. Like daydreaming, play is pivotal to creation.

And don't forget to laugh! Doug Hall, in his book, Jump Start Your Brain, reminds us that, "You can increase your brain power three- to fivefold simply by laughing and having fun before working on a problem."

~ Breathe

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you take the time to observe your breathing, you may discover that your breathing is shallow or strained. Breath is the life force and essential to stimulating the mind. Seek out one of numerous books and tapes available to help you deepen and relax your breathing. Several traditions, such as yoga, offer instruction on breathing technique.

One such exercise from the yoga tradition is called Kapala Bhati. This practice purifies the head area, clears mental cobwebs, calms the mind and the breath. Naiman describes it as "a series of forced exhalations: exhale quickly and lightly through the nose, letting the inhalation occur as a natural reflex. Do this for up to one minute, then rest and breathe normally. Repeat exhalations. Begin with 3 rounds of 30 exhalations and gradually increase to 10 rounds of 60." [IMPORTANT: Persons with high blood pressure or lung disease should not practice this exercise.]

~ Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to produce a particular effect. For the purpose of creativity, Naiman recommends peppermint, cypress or lemon to energize, or ylang ylang, geranium or rose to relax.

Essential oils can be used individually or in combination. In The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, author Valerie Ann Worwood suggests a combination of basil, cardamom, ginger and black pepper for concentration. To stimulate the right brain, you might choose bergamot, neroli, grapefruit, geranium, birch or coriander.

Essential oils can be prepared and used in various ways. Naiman suggests putting 10 - 15 drops in the bath with a little almond oil. You can also put a few drops on a disk (available at an aromatherapy outlet) and put it on a light bulb; the heat from the light disperses the scent. Consult a book such as Worwood's for additional uses.

~ Feed your soul

Constantly driving yourself or spending hours behind office walls eventually becomes counterproductive. Just as you need to nourish your body, you need to nourish your soul. Naiman says, "When people are growing through learning and creativity, they are much more fulfilled.... Remember what you loved to do as a child and bring the essence of that activity into your work." She cites a January 1998 "Fortunate Magazine" article, stating that "research shows that highly motivated employees are up to 127% more productive than averagely motivated employees in high complexity jobs."

Along with daydreaming, play and exercise, take time to pursue hobbies you enjoy. Find ways to bring beauty into your home, your office and your life. Spend time with people you find enjoyable and stimulating. Make feeding your soul as important as feeding your body.

~ Build a brain trust

Prime your creative pump by reading magazines on number of topics. Surround yourself with bright and inspiring people from a wide variety of fields who encourage you and stimulate your creativity. The added benefit is that you will begin to see yourself as bright and inspiring, too!

~ Follow your intuition

Very often, we have creative insights, but dismiss them as too far out or impractical. Naiman encourages us to "follow the path that gives you the most joy. Learn to trust and listen to your inner guidance. Developing and following your intuition keeps you a few steps ahead of the pack."

So eat well, exercise, breathe, lighten up and enjoy life, and your creativity will benefit as well!

(Thanks, Linda Naiman, for a wealth of great ideas!)

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Linda Naiman BFA, is founder of Linda Naiman & Associates Inc. (Vancouver, BC) a consulting and training group at the forefront of transformational change through creativity and innovation. Linda works with corporate and public sector organizations, to develop their skill sets in applying creativity, innovation and visionary thinking to business strategy. Linda is a lifelong artist, whose paintings are part of private collections and film productions. Her writings on creativity and innovation have appeared in numerous business publications, including "Perspectives on Global Change," published by The World Business Academy. Visit her website at http://www.creativityatwork.com.

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Creative Tip

If you're feeling particularly stuck and uninspired, take a "creativity day." Spend the day pampering and nourishing body and soul. You may feel like you're losing precious work time, but when you do go back to work, you'll find yourself accomplishing your tasks with greater ease.

 

Wise Words

"Humor and creativity are kissing cousins. If you want to develop your sense of humor, invite more creativity into your life -- and vice versa. In the presence of humor, new creative perspectives naturally occur. You can't stop them."

~ Joel Goodman, founder and director of The Humor Project

"Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea."

~ Doug Hall, Jump Start Your Brain

"I don't really feel your brainpower needs boosting. If anything, it needs celebrating, for you already have enough active brain cells inside you to accomplish many great things in your life."

~ Thomas Armstrong, PhD, 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Many Intelligences


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Bookshelf

(click on the book, tape or CD graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

Your Miracle Brain . . . Jean Carper

Mind Boosters: A Guide to Natural Supplements That Enhance Your Mind, Memory, and Mood . . . Ray Sahelian

12-Minute Total Body Workout . . . Joyce L. Vedral

The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit . . . Don G. Campbell

Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights . . . Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold

Jump Start Your Brain . . . Doug Hall

Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery . . . Gay Hendricks

cdBreathing: The Master Key to Self Healing . . . Andrew Weil (CD)

The Daydream Workbook: Learning the Art of Decoding Your Daydreams . . . Robert Langs, MD

Relax, Daydream and Draw . . . Don Campbell (audiocassette)

The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy . . . Valerie Ann Worwood

Aromatherapy Blends and Remedies: Over 800 Recipes for Everyday Use . . . Franzesca Watson

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© 2001 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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