Do you want to boost your creativity in midlife? Try meditation.
The Rosary is a 400-year-old sequence of prayers that you say with the help of a strand of beads. After each prayer you say, you advance a bead in your hand, slowly moving your way along the strand.
Chanting each prayer quiets my mind, and the weight of the hard little bead in my hand is so calming. The combination of the physical sensation and the mental contemplation is incredibly meditative to me—many valuable insights have come to me as I say the Rosary.
Many people may think of meditation as sitting perfectly still, with eyes closed and legs cross, trying to empty your mind of all thoughts.
But in reality, meditation takes many forms:
- Mindfulness meditation: A form of meditation that emphasizes awareness of yourself and the world around you during any given moment
- Movement meditation: A form of meditation that seeks to find calm and focus through movement, like walking, tai chi, or other peaceful means of motion
- Prayer: Communion with one’s god, often through the ritualistic speaking of words
- Guided meditation: A form of meditation led by a guide who speaks while the meditator follows along—this meditation type is easily accessible through apps like Calm and Headspace
- Yoga: Many practices of this ancient body/mind exercise include a meditation component
- Mantra meditation: A form of meditation where you build focus and concentration by repeating the same word or phrase repeatedly
And there are so many more! According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, most forms of meditation include four components: a peaceful, quiet location with minimal distractions, a particular comfortable physical posture, something in particular to focus on, and an open demeanor. There are so many shapes a practice that fits these guidelines can take!
Meditation is good for body and mind
There’s an abundance of research out there about meditation and the studies all tend to come to the same conclusion: A regular meditation practice can have numerous benefits for your physical health.
A 2018 Harvard study found that a group of people who meditated for just 15 minutes per day over the course of 8 weeks saw a meaningful reduction in blood pressure. A study in 2015 published in Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine found that mindfulness meditators reduced the frequency of insomnia and improved sleep quality compared to non-meditators. Researchers have also noticed improvements in health issues like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and psoriasis among people who started meditating.
Meditation also has a proven impact on mental health.
Several studies have come to the conclusion that meditation can be a powerful tool for people battling stress and anxiety. Other research found that depression and symptoms of PTSD may be lessened by incorporating a meditation practice into your life.
Meditation boost creativity and performance.
For me, I’ve also noticed that doing some kind of meditation regularly—particularly creative visualization, where you create images in your mind of the things you want to happen—causes an explosion in my creativity.
While Olympic athletes use visualization as part of their training for competition, I think meditation has made me a prolific writer. I rarely run out of ideas when I am in line with my prayer, meditation and creative visualization practice.
With all of the different methods out there, there must be one that could work for you
Some people may feel a bit silly trying to meditate, or think that it won’t work for them. But with all the benefits listed above, it seems crazy not to give it a try! Experiment with different methods and see if one clicks.
If you love long walks in nature, try movement meditation. Or consider dance as meditation—turn on the music and let your body go. When I was in my 20s, I used to close the doors, turn on the music, and just dance with no one watching. Just me, the music, and the energy created through dance.
Tai chi is another option for people who want to incorporate meditative movement into their lives—my mom practiced it for years. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines gentle movement with a meditative state. A significant body of research has found that tai chi can reduce stress, ease joint pain, and boost energy and muscle strength.
If you’re spiritually inclined, try and bring some meditative aspects to your daily prayer or other form of worship. Quiet prayer is meditative, but singing or playing spiritual music can be, too! Contemplating on the Bible, Talmud, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhist suttas, or any other spiritual book can be a form of meditation, as well.
If you feel like you’d be adrift without someone leading the way during your practice, try a guided meditation through an app or on YouTube. When I was in college, I tried progressive relaxation meditation, where you start at your feet and tense and relax your muscles one by one, all the way up to your head. You can do it on your own, but it’s fun to have a guide so you can follow along—these days, I often use the Insight Timer app for progressive relaxation meditation.
There are tons of resources and instructions for every form of meditation online.
We could all use a little less stress and a little more peace in our lives, and meditation is a great first step to get there. A boost in creativity is a bonus.