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Meditation May Not Be Giving You the Creative Spark You Think It Does
Creativity is the result of toggling between two main modes of thought. So what exactly are these modes and how do we take the middle path?
Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is a humanistic psychologist exploring the depths of human potential. He has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. In addition to writing the column Beautiful Minds for Scientific American, he also hosts The Psychology Podcast, and is author and/or editor of 9 books, including
Scott Barry Kaufman: The way human evolution has worked is that humans are constantly toggling between two main modes of thought: a mode of thought where we're focused on the moment for survival issues, because if you miss like a saber-toothed tiger coming after you and you're daydreaming, you're not going to be daydreaming much longer — do you know what I'm saying? But, we also have this other really important mode of thought on the downtime when we don't have to be vigilant about our environment, where we're constantly planning for the future. Our brain has evolved to toggle between two main modes of thought, the moment processing and future planning. That's actually what — the planning part is actually what makes humans uniquely human because other animals have a hard time transcending the present moment. So we're constantly toggling between these two things. And I would argue that for optimal creativity you need to strike a balance; you need to come to what we call the middle way. And in the middle way is knowing when it's contextually appropriate to pay attention to the present environment for survival, as well as gathering information, and allow yourself when that isn't necessary to dip into your inner stream of consciousness and plan for your future. Two critical brain networks that are involved in this toggling process between the present moment and our future planning is the default mode network, which I like to refer to as the imagination network because all the kinds of processes associated with this brain network I think are associated with imagination in some way. From like perspective taking, and when I'm taking the perspective of someone else, I'm imagining what that person is thinking, right? To daydreaming, to thinking about the future, you know, the future planning. It's all imagination. A lot of it has to do with social imagination, a particular kind of imagination but I think it's definitely having to do with imagination. And the other major brain network is the executive attention network.
Executive attention network is really crucial for working memory, such as holding information in your mind and consciousness and processing and manipulating it, as well as focusing on the outside world. It's also important, by the way, for focusing on your inner world. So you can be a mindful daydreamer, and when you're a mindful daydreamer both of those brain networks actually couple together because you're focusing that limited spotlight of attention inward and so your daydreams might become more focused when these two brain networks are collaborating with each other. So these brain networks are not always at odds with each other. There is a unique state of consciousness when both of those networks are on the same level of the seesaw. Right? And that seems to be creativity. Really, really expert meditators have been shown to have an amazing executive attention network. They're really, really amazing at being able to focus, but that doesn't necessarily relate to creativity. You could be the greatest most proficient meditator in the universe and not have one iota of creativity. I think that's the honest truth. I go to some of these conferences; you can go to some of these mindfulness conferences and they're all just like zombies like looking at paying attention to the speaker and you look at them and they're all so laser focused on the speaker because they've honed their mindful attention. And it drives me crazy sometimes because I just want to scream daydream! Like it's okay! Like to go back in and make meaning out of that experience and then go back out. It's that toggling process that creators are really good at. So I wouldn't make a case that I think too extreme in either direction, either too extreme daydreamers, and there are chronic daydreamers; they need help. A lot of them, like, see psychiatrists because they can't stop daydreaming. And I think on the other end it too we can become a too mindful society where we lose fact of the importance of dipping back in to create meaning out of that outer world that we're mindful of.
There isn't a single answer to becoming more creative. Instead, it's a constant balancing act between two fundamental brain states, says creativity expert Scott Barry Kaufman. Whereas animals live constantly in the present, humans have the cognitive power to plan for the future. But constantly being in one state or the other prevents the cross-pollination of thoughts that is the essence of creativity.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are incredibly rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also very rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.