How to use mindfulness to release creativity

Mindfulness –  a technique for managing mental health – is increasingly being used within business settings as an alternative solution to reducing stress. Here Palma Michel, author of The Authority Guide to Mindful Leadership; Simple techniques and exercises to manage yourself, manage others and effect change, briefly summarises why practice managers should be investing in the technique

In a sector where workload pressures are non-stop practice managers need to find ways to handle continuous change and allow their own, and staff, creativity to flourish. Using mindfulness not only helps reduce stress it can also help release the innovation and creativity you need for business success.

Here are my practical tips for connecting with creativity:

Focus on the process

Instead of just being focused on the end-goal get interested in the process and see what you can learn from it. Continue asking questions throughout the process and not just afterwards. Practicing mindfulness naturally instills a process, rather than an outcome, orientation as the focus is on our experience in the present moment without being fixed on a particular outcome.

Be curious

By asking questions you’ll easily bring curiosity to any situation. Don’t assume you know the answer, or that something is a given, but continuously ask questions and challenge your assumptions. Mindfulness practice encourages openness and curiosity about what is arising in the present moment.

Listen openly

Google recently looked at what makes the best-performing teams and the result was everyone having an equal turn in conversation, no one shutting other people down and different opinions being appreciated (Duhigg, 2016). The next time you have a meeting try to give your full attention to each speaker and listen to them with compassion and openness. If your mind wanders off, or you are catching yourself already rehearsing your next question, bring your attention back to the speaker. Try to be open and interested in what they are saying. When they stop talking ask them an open question such as, ‘Tell me more about it’ or ‘What do you think?’ and resist the urge to immediately share your opinion.

Manage your triggers

Whenever there are setbacks, or we’re dealing with uncertainly, people tend to get triggered and retreat into defensive, ‘caveman’ mode. If you feel this starting use your breath to manage your state. Take a few conscious breaths through your nostrils, inhaling deeply all the way into your abdomen. Exhale through your mouth with pursed lips. Count to two on your inhale and elongate your exhale by counting to four. The key is to make your exhale slightly longer than your inhale.

Let go
The skills of a team or group of people are always better than their individual qualities added together. So, notice if you have a tendency towards wanting to control everything and everyone around you. Mindfulness practice encourages letting go by observing what arises in the present moment, without being attached to it.

With these steps to mindfulness you can develop a culture where creativity will flourish. You and your team will be able to be flexible and to adapt and innovate in response to change.

About the author
Palma Michel is an executive coach and author of The Authority Guide to Mindful Leadership; Simple techniques and exercises to manage yourself, manage others and effect change published by SRABooks.  @SRA_TAG

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