How Meditation Made Me Better at My Creative Work

By Jason Cyrjason
Published: Jan 17, 2018

Do you struggle with too many distractions which keep you from getting into that state of creative flow? Do you get pulled away on tangents and down rabbit holes while you are working and suddenly realize you have wasted time working on things that don’t matter? Do you sometimes struggle to open your mind to creative possibilities or to reframe the problem you are trying to solve?

As designers I think we have all struggled at times with focus, distractions, and diversions. Life and work are busy places and it’s hard to find time and space to concentrate. When we do get into creative flow, we can sometimes shift off course and next thing you know we have spent all sorts of time solving design problems that didn’t really need to be solved.

Recently I have noticed that my journey and practice in meditation and mindfulness is having a real positive impact on my work and so I wanted to write about it and share some of my learning.

Starting my practice

My interest in mindfulness and meditation started about two years ago and really emerged as a way to manage the stress of a busy career and a busy household (I have three kids. Ill leave it at that :)).

I had been aware of mindfulness techniques since I was a kid. I remember having a cassette tape from my parents which was a guided meditation and I sometimes listening to it in order to fall asleep as a teen. My impression of it was always very sort of cosmic or spiritual and just a little “out there” which didn’t really resonate with me, so I was really pleased to get introduced to an app on my phone called Headspace which takes a very pragmatic approach to mindfulness and for me it was a great way to re-introduce myself to a practice of calming the mind. I have been practicing on and off for over two years now and have logged hundreds of sessions. Currently I incorporate meditation as part of my morning routine where I get up early to do 30 minutes of Yoga, 15 or 20 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of mindful work like reading or writing.

So what have the benefits been?

Meditation and mindfulness is all about focus. We focus our mind on something simple like the breath, and we spend our meditation time learning to deal with the all the distractions that naturally occur. Its about being able to notice when the mind wonders and then being able to effortlessly bring it back to the area of focus. Its not about suppressing distractions but rather embracing the fact that they will occur and having an ability to acknowledge them, usher them out and get back to the focus. Sounds simple, but its pretty hard!

In the beginning I would sometimes waste most of a 20 minute session lost in thought and it would take 5 or 10 minutes sometimes to recognize that I had been distracted. But as I practice more and more I am now able to recognize the distractions in as little as a few seconds and get myself back on track.

This ability to focus and to recognize distraction can be really important to a designer.

When you are able to efficiently deal with distraction it allows us to more easily get to that place of flow. As creatives, we all know what its like when we get completely consumed by our work. We get sucked in and suddenly hours have passed. This is called Flow, and it can be hard to achieve but once we in it, its like catching a wave. Dealing with those distractions and allowing your mind to let them go will help in getting into that state of flow.

Squamisher Jason Cyr is a former fire fighter and is presently leading design efforts for Cisco Cloud Security. The entire article can be read here.

 

 

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