How to Apply Mindfulness to the Creative Process

The key to optimizing the creative process is balancing the brain networks.

Sergey Nivens/Adobe Stock

When London School of Economics co-founder Graham Wallas wrote The Art of Thought in 1926, he outlined a classic framework for training our minds in the art of the creative process. More than half a century later, most scientists define creativity as “producing something new and useful”, and we have a much richer understanding of creativity’s cognitive and neural underpinnings. But what seems to remain from Wallas’s framework is this: creativity requires both freedom and constraint in our thinking.

Applied neuroscience—a fancy way of saying “how to use neuroscience knowledge in real life”—helps us understand how to practice the creative process. And it turns out, when you break down the brain processes involved in creative achievement, it becomes clear that mindfulness goes hand in hand with creativity. In fact, there are actually scientific ways to apply mindfulness to the creative process. First, let’s look at the key ingredients for the creative process.

Four Stages of the Creative Brain

The brain is like an orchestra, with different sections playing in synchrony at different times. Balance is everything—too loud, too soft, out of sync or out of tune, and it doesn’t sound quite right. The…