This blog will discuss the current issues in creativity by the graduate students at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State. www.buffalostate.edu/creativity
The views expressed herein are those of the graduate students and do not necessarily represent the views of the International Center for Studies in Creativity or of any other Buffalo State College body.
By Darlene Kent Graduate Student International Center for Studies in Creativity Want to go on a Zenventure? Have I
captured your attention?Are you
curious? Join me as I share my Master’s project with you.
What are Zenventures?
Zenventures are guided imageries,
meditations that are designed to be mini adventures.
Adventures of peace, adventures of
the heart, and adventures of the mind.Zenventures
are about taking a journey, about taking a moment to pause, to unplug and just
be.Be you, be relaxed, and be in the
now.Everybody needs a coffee break,
even your brain.Zenventures is all
about the art of the pause.
Zenventures take you to a place
you may never have been before, it allows you to try out new options.They help you get comfortable with new skills
and new ideas.Zenventures are about
opening your creativity and your mind to possibilities.Zenventures give you a way to release and
connect to your imagination, and to experience some peace.
Relax and discover your creative
potential to embrace imagination, insight and your artistic self - whatever
your art may be.
Discover SIM: Story,
We live in a busy world, a world
that seems to have forgotten how to breathe, how to pause, and how to unplug
from an everyday, all day, internet access.Discover SIM:unplug by plugging
in. You may be wondering what is SIM?And why should I care?SIM is an
acronym that taps into three powers to help you discover imagination,
creativity and insight:
•Power of Story
•Power of Incubation
•Power of Music
Humans have an affinity for story,
we respond to them, remember them, and share them.Zenventures tap into your desire for stories
and uses it as a vehicle to help you connect to your inner potential.
I believe in our busy and
increasingly interconnected world we are forgetting how to incubate. Guided
meditations help people find time to pause, and give ourselves permission and
time to let the answer find us. Zenventures help you tap into this deep well of
potential, one that is often overlooked.
Humans experience music on a
different level, beyond words, beyond logic, beyond the everyday.Hear some music and some part of your body
wants to move with it.In Zenventures we
use music to move the mind, the heart and the soul.
The book, Wired for Story, discussed how story can help rewire a person’s
brain, to help us to see the possibilities of the future, and to teach us the
way of the world (Cron, 2012).Human
beings connect to story in a strong way, and I used the power of story to take
the person on a journey.One very clear
way I did that was by using a theme in the meditations, and I connected that to
something that happens in music lyrics - a chorus.Theme is the universal message that you want
to share, it tells people the point of the story, and conveys information about
the human experience (Cron,
2012), in this case
the creative aspect of being human.
The best way to make people
believe in something is with repetition, and another way is to use simple
2011).I employed both of these strategies while
writing and creating the guided meditations.So the chorus, repeated a few times during the meditation; is the key
attitude, skill or trait about creativity I want the person to take on.The power of SIM (Story, Incubation, Music)
lies with the repeated chorus, and the breeding of familiarity that comes with
listening to it, especially with doing the same meditation over and over
again.The chorus is my secret weapon,
it is how I plant the seeds of creativity that will hopefully blossom into
helping a person become more creative.
Research has clearly proven that
there is a mind body connection and that mediation has several benefits:quicker recovery from stress, increased alpha
rhythms, enhanced synchronization, muscle relaxation, less emotional
reactivity, increased empathy, more happiness,increased creativity, and heightened perceptual clarity and sensitivity (Bodian,
When I was doing the initial
research for the project, I checked Amazon.com and SoundsTrue.com, and I found
that most guided meditations refer to creativity in general.Current guided meditation do not focus on the
skills, attitudes and traits associated with creativity.
A journal article written by
Sawyer (2011) on the neuroscience of creativity suggested that creative people
experience higher levels of alpha wave activity, and that creative people use
both hemispheres of the brain.You can
connect that information to the benefits of meditation [increased alpha rhythms
and increased brain synchronization, (Bodian,
2006)] to see how
meditating increases creativity in general.
What appears to be lacking in the
current guided meditation landscape are the skills, traits and attitudes that
support creativity.I decided to use
meditation, guided imagery and visualization as a way to help people practice
and master the skills, traits and attitudes associated with creativity.
The best journal article I read on
creativity and meditation was called, The
Neuropsychological Connection Between Creativity and Meditation (Horan,
2009). The section labeled, Insight, provided a good overview on
creativity and meditation.What research
indicated is that meditation helps with incubation and insight through the
processes of transcendence and integration.
Transcendence bypasses limits in
information, in essence you could say it creates a whole that is greater than
the sum of the knowledge.And
integration is about transforming information, you can think of it as an
enlightened state.Transcendence is
about diverging, and integration is about converging.After reading this article I came to the
conclusion that transcendence and integration are part of the yin/yang of
Be Rock Star Zen
It is too early to tell if the
guided meditations can increase the prevalence of the specific traits, skills
and attitudes associated with creativity.Even if they do not, meditation will still help enhance creativity in
So, let’s jump in and go on a Zenventure.Enjoy the streaming audio below and discover a
peace and creativity adventure today!
To jumpstart your creativity, I wanted to provide you with
twenty-one things you can do this month to celebrate creativity with the children
in your life. Many of these ideas are taken from a book I am currently
co-developing with Michaelene Dawson. The book is called, “My Sandwich is a
Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Kids.”
1.Teach your children your favorite childhood game. If it is a
board game, go online and see if you can find it, and treat your family!
2.Create a curiosity tree or corner in your house where you can
post all of you and your children’s questions (post-its work great!). Talk
about the questions over meals.
3.Take a day to mindfully play with your children. Turn off TVs,
cell phones, and computers, pack a picnic and go to a small park. Get lost in
the park, daydream, and spend time being totally present. Notice new things
around you in the park.
4.Eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Completing
tasks out of sequence has demonstrated higher levels of creative thinking. Let
your children pick the meals.
5.Get a big professional canvas (Michael’s or Joanne Fabrics has
many sizes), put on your painting clothes (make sure you have a spare set of
clothes and washcloths on hand), pick up some finger paint, and together using
all body parts, paint a “masterpiece”. Once complete and cleaned up, talk to
your child about how they felt, what colors they used, and what your picture
looks like. Most important, find some place in your house to showcase your work
6.Engage in fantasy games with your child. My son loves to make up
games. His current favorites are called Carzoom, Dropsidy Whapsidy, and Train
Around. Don’t be afraid to engage with the imagination and create your own
7.Try a completely new meal together as a family.
8.Together, come up with as many ideas for a Saturday morning as
you possibly can think of while delaying your judgment (so try not to put down
any of the ideas). Then, plan and execute a Saturday morning adventure
(breakfast at the local diner, swinging in the local park, followed by
launching their favorite stuffed animal into outer space – or as far as they
can get it…).
9.Pick a room in your house to rearrange; sit in different chairs,
and notice how the view has changed.
10.Plant a small tree (it is also earth day this month) in your
backyard and take a picture of it. Then, make a family pact to take photos each
11.Come up with different ends to your favorite bedtime story. (In
the great green room, there was a telephone and blue baboon and a picture of
grandma jumping over the moon…).
12.Pick up some kabob sticks at your local store, and put your
children’s favorite foods on the stick. Then, add in some new foods and see if
they will try it.
13.When faced with a parenting problem, try to look at it in
another way. For example, when my son wouldn’t eat cheese, I gave him “sprinkle
cheese” and he was eating it by the handfuls. What is something else you can
14.Find a color wheel on the internet. Go grocery shopping, and try
to find food from the color wheel.
15.Create a song from one of your favorite tunes. For example,
imagine singing “cookie cookie, chocolate milk” as the title to the song to
“Twinkle Twinkle little star”.
16.Think about your favorite soundtrack as a child. Mine was Disco
Mickey Mouse. Download it from iTunes and dance with your children.
17.Together, think about all the things that can be created with
water. Then, try to do something new with water (maybe create a river in the
bathtub where the toy dinosaurs can live).
18.Go through your closet and get rid of things you haven’t worn in
the last year. Then, use those clothes as dress up clothes. Remember your old
skirt could be your child’s superhero cape.
19.Have a “silly” talent show, where each member of your family
showcases a silly talent (holding a spoon on your nose, singing the abcs in a
20.Before you throw anything in the garbage, think of another use
for it with your children. Perhaps the baby food jars could act as spice
holders or your cereal box could be the head of a robot you build!
21.Think about something you used to love to do as a child and try
it with your children. One of my favorite memories as a child was sitting in
the Burger King parking lot with my mom, eating french fries in the car and
talking about anything. Being the youngest of five, I was so grateful to have
time alone to talk to her. Think about what you might do this week (and
beyond!) to build creative memories with your children! And don't forget to
If you have any more ideas you would like to share, please
post them in the comments section below.
Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Program Director (Sociology and Social Work)
Think about the various items included on your work-related
to-do list. Review each item and consider which you can perform completely
independently and which items require assistance from at least one other
individual. Chances are the most important tasks on your to-do list require you
to work with others, and the
success of those endeavors depends on your ability to collaborate effectively.
The nature of business collaboration – and creative
collaboration, in particular – is at the heart of this thoroughly researched
yet highly accessible work of non-fiction: Creative Conspiracy. According to management expert and
author Leigh Thompson, collaboration is “the art and science of combining
people’s talents, skills, and knowledge in order to achieve a common goal” (p.
1). While an essential part of contemporary work life, Thompson argues that
creative collaboration remains one of the most challenging tasks undertaken by
professionals due, in part, to critical misunderstandings of creative problem
solving processes and research.
To underscore this point, Thompson identifies a series of
commonly held beliefs about creativity and links to research findings that fly
in the face of conventional wisdom. She debunks several “myths” by sharing data
that demonstrates that teams are typically less
creative than individuals when left to their own devices; that providing
specific “rules” and engaging in a stimulating environments actually lead to
increases in a group’s inventiveness; and that changing a team’s membership and
composition can enhance a team’s innovation. She notes that most business
leaders are unable to articulate the four basic rules of brainstorming – a
staple of the creative problem solving process.
Nevertheless, Thompson also suggests that when collaboration
is conscious, planned, and focused on generating new or novel ideas, it can
develop into a "creative conspiracy." Teams that “conspire” organize
themselves, motivate their members, and combine their talents to commit
creative and innovative acts. They are considered the hallmark of highly
In the book, Thompson reveals what she considers to be some
of the major barriers to creative conspiracies including the tendency for group
members to change their behavior to go along with the team (conformity); free
riding or social loafing among group members; the development of a team
superiority complex; the tyranny of the average (also known as regression to
the mean); the tendency among group members to multi-task; and the purposeful
dumbing down of participants to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
Thompson also discusses key strategies that enable teams to
reach their full creative potential and maximize results. These “best
practices” center on opportunities to develop a nimble and diverse team;
provide appropriate leadership and motivation to members; address and
ultimately transform team conflict; and set the stage for building a creative
conspiracy through the development of an associated action plan.
Thompson offers tips to address specific concerns. Her advice is practical and
drawn from real-life experiences making it useful to myriad groups from
start-ups to seasoned professionals. Drawing on research conducted by Paulis,
Thompson argues that individuals should engage in idea-generating activities on
their own before participating in brainstorming as a group. She insists that
teams should never be set up just for the sake of having a team, but should
only be used if one needs to draw upon a range of skills and views. She states
that teams should be kept small and should be as diverse as possible.
also argues that new members should constantly be brought into the group and
old ones removed, as this keeps members on their toes and working at a high
level. Citing research that shows that quiet and relaxed areas are not always
best when it comes to idea generation, Thompson suggests that sessions should
be held in places that get the mind buzzing or run the risk of allowing members
to get too comfortable.
the book could benefit from some additional examples of creative conspiracies
and a discussion of their real life impact, it is, at its core, about
increasing creative collaborations and has the potential to become a powerful
resource for those in a position to implement these best practices. The book
draws on strong empirical evidence to support the appropriate use of creative
problem solving techniques including brainstorming, brain writing, and
rules-based facilitation among others. This information is particularly helpful
to individuals who are not trained in creative problem solving as well as those
in need of a skills refresh. Many constituencies can be aided by this book
including business executives, team leaders, entrepreneurs, educators,
researchers, and students of creativity, in general.
Thompson, L. (2013). Creative conspiracy: The new rules of breakthrough collaboration. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
About Diane Bessel
Diane R. Bessel, PhD, LMSW, CNM is a student in the Creativity and Change Leadership Certificate Program. She recently joined the faculty at Daemen College as Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Program Director of the Sociology and Social Work Department. Prior to joining Daemen College, she served as the Director of Research, Investments, and Advocacy at the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County where she was responsible for regularly assessing community trends for the purposes of coordinated planning and decision-making. Bessel regularly uses the skills she has acquired through the ICSC program in her consulting work with non-profit organizations, government groups, collaborative initiatives, and foundations.