Creative Leadership Series, Part 4. Meditation & Transforming Perception – Meeting Each Moment Afresh
Posted on October 24, 2017
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower…” ~ William Blake
Before we think, we perceive our experience of life.
We perceive not just through our eyes, but through all our senses, constantly taking in information about our internal and external world. Meditation is a technique that not only assists us in cultivating well-being, it is a powerful practice for nurturing innovative thinking by enabling us to meet each moment afresh.
Meditation is a tool that returns our attention to our senses and to our organic, sensuous participation in life – before thought develops into a judgement or a label of that person, that experience, that thing we are relating to. Our brains are wired for efficiency- that’s why we develop habits: habits of thought and habits of behaviour: patterns running on repeat. Indeed “the value of a habit is that you don’t have to think about it. It frees up your brain to do other things” ~ Anne Trafton, MIT News Office, 2012.
With the immense about of information and communication that we are exposed to daily, it has become necessary to rely on autopilot, on our habits of perception and judgement, in order to invest the vital energy of our conscious awareness into successfully navigating through the speed and complexity of today’s fast-paced world.
During meditation we create space in our day to pause all the ‘doing’ and to simply observe and encounter each experience of life as if for the first time.
Through the act of consciously commanding our attention to focus on our body, meditation interrupt habits of perception and thought, opening us up to the information that is arriving through our senses in each passing moment.
It is within this space that meditation creates – between our body’s perception of an experience we are having and the judgement our mind is making about that experience (based on previous experiences) – that three core things can happen which catalyse innovative thinking.
The meditator has the opportunity to receive all the information from an experience with a greater depth of perceptivity because their brain isn’t busy doing other things on the side. This evokes a freshness, a curiosity and a sharpness that allows the meditator to have a deeper engagement with, and appreciation for, what is happening in and around them. This in turn allows for their brain to make new connections and new meanings with what they are experiencing. Within this space, where the pausing and reforming of connections are being made, opportunities for sudden bursts of understanding or insight may also be received, as if falling through that space created.
Because the meditator has paused autopilot, they have the opportunity to respond to their experience newly: meeting the moment afresh and with the experimental potentail. A playful chemistry of new connections being made between experience and judgement then cascades into novel responses and actions that follow.
While the meditator is fully present within their body they have an opportunity to receive and consolidate information from all three of their brains: their head, heart, and gut brains. The neural networks in our gut have a big influence over our emotions, giving us access to ‘gut instinct’ while those neural networks clustered in the heart enable the flow of intuitive awareness, and empathic understanding; guiding us towards “feeling into the situation.”
This alignment of all three brains enables the meditator to draw on wisdom from all four ways of knowing: thinking, feeling, intuiting and sensing. A powerfully creative combination for innovative thought and action
For many thousands of years meditation has been considered a rich source of inspiration and wisdom and as such may constitute a vital and nourishing practice for leaders who seek to foster innovative thinking.