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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Keep Your Creative Cortex Engaged – Brain Basics Part 3

Regular relaxation improves brain function.

Writers have to know how to relax in the moment so we can move out of the resistance caused by a limbic system takeover and re-engage our creative cortex.

But even better than knowing how to move out of resistance is knowing how to avoid it in the first place.

A regular relaxation practice gives you that. Meditation and other forms of relaxation influence how your brain functions –making the RAS less reactive and limbic system takeovers less likely.

The more often you relax, the more engaged your cortex will stay. And the more engaged your cortex is, the easier it is to write.

Boost Creativity By Relaxing Your Brain

In one study, a test group who practiced daily mindfulness meditation for eight weeks reported feeling happier, more creative, more relaxed and more even-tempered than the control group (who didn’t do the meditation). The test group also had healthier immune systems.

Moreover, the test group’s brain scans changed significantly. After the test group practiced meditation for eight weeks, their brain scans showed increased activity in the left prefrontal lobe, an area that has been shown to inhibit the limbic system.

Your relaxation practice might be any of several forms of meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong or some similar practice. The longer you engage in a regular relaxation practice, the less you’ll need the Relax in the Moment Techniques discussed in the previous post.

I’ve been meditating for 30 minutes a day, five or six days a week for just over three years. I’m more relaxed in general, have more equanimity and creative energy, and notice that situations that used to annoy me enormously aren’t worth getting into a lather over anymore. Funny thing is that not getting revved actually makes it easier to resolve those situations.

When I do fret myself into a limbic system takeover, I recognize it sooner and can relax my way out it faster.

Do you meditate or practice some other form of relaxation? What does it do for your writing?

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6 Comments on “Keep Your Creative Cortex Engaged – Brain Basics Part 3”

  1. Ramchandra November 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Thanks for the posting. As a prseon living with someone who over drinks on occasion I did find myself doing just that cleaning the fridge, folding the laundry, or some other mundane task. It never really worked to reduce my anxiety about the drinking and behavior so, I too found it much more satisfying to just find a place to walk to and sit quietly and most importantly ask for guidance.


  2. Joel D Canfield July 13, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    This is precisely the challenge I’ve been facing in the 3 months since our move from New Jersey to Wisconsin.

    It’s been a powerfully creative period, but my usual relaxed fluidity and unruffled nature has almost disappeared.

    I’m finally seeing a chiropractor, getting back to my daily 2 mile walk by the lake, but I haven’t given enough thought to some form of meditation. Prevention, obviously, instead of cure for the stress.

    Rosanne, this series has been marvelously helpful to me. No matter how much I think I know about motivation, writing, and how our brain works, I keep learning and I love it.


    • rosannebane July 25, 2012 at 10:23 am #

      Joel, it’s rewarding to hear how much the blogs are contributing to your writing process. Thanks. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that you’re the one doing the work. Good for you!



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