With so many thoughts begging for your attention each day, it’s hard to believe that most of them are the same ones you had yesterday.
Actually, many psychologists who have studied the thought processes associated with our thinking patterns would agree that, on average, 90% of the thoughts that we become aware of throughout the day are the same thoughts that we have already experienced, over and over again.
The reason we are so prone to repetitive thinking is because the brain is always working to keep us safe and out of danger. This is thanks to the amygdala — the ancient part of the brain that is responsible for our fight-or-flight response. This part of the brain is also the reason we have been able to survive as a species here on earth.
Based on this survival mechanism, the quickest and most effective way to feel safe is to seek out what we have already been exposed to and have become familiar with. This explains why new experiences often come with an underlying sense of activated nerves — the fear center of the brain is unfamiliar with a new experience and unable to draw a stable conclusion.
With all of these repetitive ideas waiting in line for you to acknowledge them, there doesn’t seem to be much room for exciting and inspiring thoughts to make an appearance.
The Evolution of Creative Thought
Something very special has been taking place in the more recent phases of human evolution: as the more advanced human brain evolves, our capacity to harness creative and inspiring thought is what separates us from most other species. This ability to consider alternate realities is responsible for creating everything around us, but is also something we often tend to underestimate.
When we learn to tame the repetitive nature of the mind and begin to tap into the uncharted territory of the advanced human mind, we unlock a vast realm of personal freedom, where fear and self-doubt cannot exist. Bypassing the limiting response of the brain in order to make contact with our higher mind is where magic happens and positive intention can flourish.
Gamma Brain Waves: The Creative Thinking Frequency
In 1988, it was discovered that distinct regions of the brain could be stimulated simultaneously, giving rise to findings of brainwave patterns reaching the 40Hz to 70Hz frequency — the fastest brain waves ever recorded. From experiments run in 1990, neuroscientists Francis Crick and Christof Koch were able to find a significant relation between conscious sensory perception and visual awareness within this specific frequency, later referred to as gamma waves. The gamma frequency range is where we are able to experience wakeful dream states as a result of receiving sensory input from various parts of the brain while we are completely awake.
It was also found that a sudden increase in gamma waves usually preceded alpha activity in the brain. Alpha brain waves are associated with calm focus during meditation, which is also known as one of the most powerful creative thinking techniques. This fascinating insight suggests that creativity can be triggered when the mind is able to calm down sufficiently to create space for the hyper activity of gamma waves. The term “gamma burst” is used to describe this sudden rush of creative energy, often experienced after long periods of meditation.
Gamma brain waves were found in Tibetan Buddhist monks who were practicing compassion meditation. Among the different brainwave categorizations, gamma waves are among the fastest. When gamma brain waves are active, they are associated with high degrees of information processing, creative inspiration, and extreme concentration.
In 2009, a study was published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, titled “The Aha! Moment: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight,” led by John Kounios at Drexel University and Mark Beeman at Northwestern University. The study concluded that insight solutions or “Aha!” moments are positively correlated with bursts of gamma waves.
Brain World magazine tells us “Gamma activity indicates a constellation of neurons binding together for the first time in the brain to create a new neural network pathway. This is the creation of a new idea. Immediately following that gamma spike, the new idea pops into our consciousness, which we identify as the Aha! moment.”
Here are some creative thinking techniques to help you find your inspiration:
Open Monitoring Meditation – Meditation is the practice of focusing your state of mind into a cohesive awareness. This awareness is the first step in reducing unnecessary thoughts. By bringing your mind into alignment, meditation helps reduce both mental and physical stress by cleansing your mind into a process of natural release.
In open monitoring meditation, you are open to anything that may enter your awareness at any given time throughout your meditation session, or even throughout the moment-to-moment aspects of your daily life. This allows your mind to settle into the alpha state, where excess thinking can simmer down as you become receptive to new and creative thoughts.
The key is to be aware of every detail that is present in the moment. This process does not have to be restricted to silent meditation. Since you focus on various things throughout your day, you can meditate as you go about your normal activities or work.
Gamma-Burst Meditation – Gamma-Burst meditation is a revolutionary brainwave entrainment program that enables you to raise the energy of your mind. This meditation is characterized by a high level of concentration, motivation, and vivid experience of the present moment. Evidence supports that Gamma-Burst meditation can be used as an effective creative thinking technique and a powerful way to improve the performance of your mind, access new levels of wisdom and insight, and boost your concentration.
Write down 5 new ideas every day – The point here is not to actually do all of them; it is just the practice of activating new areas of the brain that provides creative insight. After a while, your ability to develop new and amazing ideas will come seemingly automatically.
Challenging activity – Engaging in activities such as writing, drawing, exercise, reading, or doing something that you are extremely passionate about is an easy way to enter a state of “flow.” This is the mental state of mind where you feel completely immersed in the present moment, fully engaged, with energized focus and joy.
While in the flow state, the problems that you thought were so important suddenly weigh a lot less on your mind and will most likely disappear altogether, replaced with overwhelming inspiration and appreciation of the moment.
Gratitude – Being thankful is a powerful way to put things in perspective. Practicing daily gratitude might be the most effective strategy for eliminating unwanted thoughts by focusing your attention on the positive things that we tend to overlook (such as the ability to stand up in the morning, move your hands, and see clearly). Studies have proven that those who practice daily gratitude feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about the future.
Gamma Waves and Inspiration
The Creative Science Behind Inspiration
The structure and consequences of repetitive thought – American Psychological Association brief
The Illuminating Benefits of Gamma Brainwaves
Our guest blogger Jeremy Gardner is the creator and content writer at Mind Body Vortex. After years of experiencing the surprising effects of meditation, he loves exploring topics that integrate philosophy with the practical benefits of modern practice. Dedicating most of his time to the study / practice of meditation and positive philosophy, Jeremy created Mind Body Vortex as a resourceful platform on which to explore effective ways to relax, release, stimulate inspiration, and cultivate energy.
Blog edited by iAwake’s editor Heidi Mitchell, www.heidimitchelleditor.com.