Open-Monitoring Meditation For Boosting Creativity
The open monitoring meditation (OMM), also known as “open awareness” meditation or “choiceless awareness” meditation, reduces the activation of the default mode network and therefore mind-wandering, thinking about the future, and remembering.(1) It has also been reported that OMM increases both convergent and divergent thinking, which is extremely beneficial for the creative process.(2) Namely, convergent thinking is a process which leads to a single — generally the optimal — solution to a particular problem. On the other hand, divergent thinking promotes the generation of many new ideas and solutions to a given question/task/problem. Together, convergent and divergent thinking are considered the two key ingredients of the process of creativity.(3) Some scientific studies have also found that a session of OOM “provides a robust creativity boost” even in individuals without a significant prior experience in meditation.(4)
This style of meditation requires a complete “opening of the mind” to the environment. It is undirected, and does not restrict perception. The meditator is encouraged to keep an open attention. Rather than focusing the mind on one single object, it lets any sensory experience in. In other words, the meditator does not focus his attention on one stimulus, but to the entire range of sensory inputs. The meditator remains open and attentive to whatever arises in experience from moment to moment.(5)
Most importantly, during OMM, the meditators keeps a non-analytical, non-judgmental, non-labeling and non-reactive awareness of anything that occurs in their experience of the present moment. This form of meditation finds strong resonance with the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti, “Observation without judgement is the highest form of intelligence.”(6) Any physical sensations, thoughts and feelings are accepted as content that is being observed, and not as distractions. The meditators simply witness whatever is happening around them at the time of meditation, grounding them in the present moment. OMM thus “allows non-related thoughts to bubble and mash together, forming them into something new. This state of mind boosts creativity by enhancing divergent thinking.”(7)
Exercise #1: Walking OMM Exercise in Nature
- Go outdoors
- Look at the vastness of the sky
- Observe everything
- Still your mind, and let the whole world in
- Be conscious of the bodily sensations, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, emotions, thoughts, and memories
Exercise #2: Sitting OMM Meditation Exercise
- Get yourself into a comfortable sitting position and relax.
- You can choose to either close your eyes, or keep your eyes open. The former will help you focus on your thoughts, while the latter will direct your focus on external stimuli.
- Inhale slowly and deeply, and let go of any worrying thoughts. Allow the breath to anchor you in the present moment.
- Rest your awareness in the present moment. Be fully aware of this present moment.
- Now, expand your awareness and tune into your sensory experiences — anything that you see or hear of smell; the temperature and the humidity in the room, etc. Welcome whatever sensory stimuli you receive.
- Simply remain aware of these sensory inputs. Do not think about them. Do not label them, categorize them or judge them. Simply experience them.
- Do not force yourself to experience anything. Simply sit still, and welcome, with an attitude of witness, whatever is coming to you.
- Whenever your mind wanders away from the present moment, gently bring it back to the here and now. Do not condemn the distractions. Acknowledge them and let them drift away.
- After about 10–20 minutes, you can slowly close your meditative session and return to your daily activities.
If you are new to meditation, you can start with even shorter sessions (min 5 min), and then gradually extend the duration of your meditation to an hour or even longer.
- Masahiro Fujino, Yoshiyuki Ueda, Hiroaki Mizuhara, Jun Saiki & Michio Nomura. Open monitoring meditation reduces the involvement of brain regions related to memory function. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-28274-4