Does Meditation Reduce Creativity?

Just a question. I have no answer to this and answering it would require some serious scientific research:

Meditation is, first and foremost, training of attention. As far as I understand, regular practice of meditation can, to a great extent, improve attention by promoting the ability to reduce the uncontrolled straying of thoughts. My question is: does this have a negative impact on creativity? What one learns to suppress through meditation seems to be what is called the “default network” of the brain.

 My personal experience in the “default mode” of the mind is that my thoughts are wandering around. It looks like I am analyzing all kinds of problems. At the same time, my impression is that in this default state, I am having my best ideas. So it seems to me that this is the “creative mode” of the mind.

While in a state of concentration, I can work on a specific problem and apply known methods; however, my creativity, i.e. the ability to generate new ideas, to move out of the scope of known methods of thinking, seems to be highest in the state in which the mind is wandering uncontolled. when brain activity is strongest in the default network.

As far as I understand, it seems to be this default activity that is reduced in meditation (if I am not wrong on this). So could it be that people who practice a lot of meditation gain a highly improved ability of concentration, but at the same time loose some creativity? If the highly improved attention gained through practicing meditation where only advantagous, our brains would likely have developed in such a way that attention would be better from the start. This, however, has not happened. Our thoughts are straying around without controll. The reason might simply be that this uncontrolled straying is necessary for developing new ideas and that the resulting creativity was selected for. The way our thinking and perception is working, with less than optimal attention and thoughts being distracted and wandering might be a compromise between the advantages and disadvantages of attention and concentration on one side and creativity and innovativeness on the other.

So  I suggest that researchers working on meditation and its effects try to design experiments investigating a possible (negative) effect of meditation on creativity.

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2 thoughts on “Does Meditation Reduce Creativity?

  1. There are stages in the meditative process; there is certainly a stage where a kind of intellectual numbness governs, as the mind empties out. But there is also the stage where the mind is unleashed, allowed to follow whatever path it may follow, without restriction. This is not simply ‘thinking outside the box;’ in this moment there is no box. Why not? Because “I” do not think these thoughts, the thoughts think themselves.

    Which is not to say that there should not be such research as you suggest; on the contrary, I think it would prove very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the answer. My own experience with meditation is too limited to be able to answer this question. I have forwarded the question to Matthieu Ricard who is in contact with people working on the neuroscience of meditation, as far as I know. I don’t know if they will take the question serious and I don’t expect an answer from there. The question just “bubbled up” at one time when I was in default mode 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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