Saturday, April 18, 2009

Walk your way to creativity

3 ways to take physical steps to a more creative mindset

So how do you get yourself into a creative mindset? Have you considered the simple act of walking?

Here are three (increasingly complex) approaches to walking that might help you get into a strong creative frame of mind:

Just take a walk

You’ve probably experienced the benefits of a simple walk. It clears the mind and can allow your mind to wander. The location is less important than the fact that you are moving and (preferrably) outdoors.

Try this: Set out only with a goal to walk for a minimum amount of time (at least 10 minutes in one direction. Other than the traffic around you (on foot or otherwise) try not to focus too much on what is around you. Focus instead on your breathing (keep it steady) and your steps (try to keep them rhythmic). If this helps your brain solve a problem or become enlivened with creativity upon your return, great. If not ….

Walk at a varying pace

To step things up a notch, take a walk where you are engaging more of your conscious brain to think about your walk. This in turn, frees up your unconscious brain to dwell on that problem that has been waiting for a solution.

Try this: Set out on your walk as above, with a goal of walking for a minimum amount of time in one direction before turning back. Now find some recurring markers (utility poles or mailboxes work well). Between the first two markers take deliberate but measured steps. Between the next two markers consciously double the pace. Between the next two markers return to the more measured pace. Repeat this pattern all the way out and all the way back. You will get more exercise, but you will also find that your subconscious brain has been active and a creative solution to that problem has likely occurred to you. But if not ….

Walk in a defined pattern

This can be the hardest walk to do correctly but can also reap the best results in terms of freeing up the unconscious part of your brain. It is based on the same principle as walking a labyrinth. But since most of us do not have on of those handy this is a good substitute.

Try this: Find a large and preferably flat open field (schools and public parks work well). Give yourself plenty of room. Clear your mind of everything and focus only on your breathing and counting your steps.

1. Now walk for 100 steps straight ahead.

2. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

3. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

4. Walk 100 steps.

5. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

6. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

7. Walk 100 steps.

8. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

9. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

10. Walk 100 steps.

11. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

12. Turn left and walk 50 steps.

13. Walk 100 steps.

14. You should now be back where you started having covered four smaller squares inside a larger square.

You may be surprised that when you are done your mind is alive with ideas. I can’t explain this. I just know it works.

Please feel free to share you other ideas for walking (or exercise) and creativity.

Further reading:
Where do creative ideas come from?

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