The Power of Pause

26 October 2018 at 12:31 by Sarah Thurber

 

 


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man reflecting in nature

  

    The Power of Pause

How often do your best ideas come to you as you’re drifting off to sleep, driving home, or steaming in a hot shower? You’re not alone. The proverbial “aha moment” often comes to people when they have stopped concentrating on the challenge and are preoccupied doing something else: walking the dog, washing dishes, shucking peas. It turns out when your brain is knee-deep in a challenge, it can’t always make the leap to a breakthrough. 

Researchers at Georgetown University have identified three neural networks that work together to produce creative thinking.

The latest from neuroscience helps explain why. Researchers at Georgetown University have identified three neural networks that work together to produce creative thinking. The first is the default network, where focus is diffuse and divergent. The second is the executive control network, where laser-like focus helps us get things done. The third is the salience network, which helps us switch back and forth between the other two. Take any of those networks off-line and you undermine your ability to think creatively.When focused hard on a challenge, we engage the logical, rational and critical thinking in our executive control network. That’s an essential part of creative problem solving, but it’s not enough. It’s the default network where new connections come together and original ideas are made. Switching back and forth, from the executive control network to the default network (from divergent to convergent thinking) is the key to creative thinking.So relax. Take a walk. Let your mind idle.That’s easier said than done, argues Dr. Steve Ralph, a professor teaching courses in creativity and innovation at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University. These days, technology has made us so productive, we unconsciously forgo the time we spent diverging, daydreaming and mind wandering. Ralph, who has a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, focused his research on the relationship between creativity training and the practice of pause. He discovered that building intentional moments of pause, with no or limited technology, helped people stay creative and achieve physical, mental and emotional benefits.

Nature is especially effective for promoting creativity, says Ralph, citing joint research from the Universities of Kansas and Utah where people scored 50% better on creativity tests after spending four consecutive days in nature. At Stanford, researchers found that creative thinking can increase by 60% when walking.  Because of the exponential growth of technology, it’s more critical than ever that people adopt practices where they can pause to make room for creative insights”, says Ralph. “Especially on the emotional side, technology creates a lot of stress. We downshift out of our neocortex and lose access to our creativity.”

“We are trying to help people reflect on whether they are managing their devices or whether their devices are managing them.”

This January, Ralph is hosting the EPIC International Summit, a four-day creativity conference where professionals from around the world and across industries gather to immerse themselves in experiential workshops, activities and thought leader sessions.  It’s the first ever creativity conference that places a focus on the importance of pausing for creativity. At EPIC, people can opt to check their technology at the door. “We’re not anti technology, but we’re giving people the option to take a ‘Disconnect Pledge’ and go tech free during their time at EPIC,” says Ralph. “We are trying to help people reflect on whether they are managing their devices or whether their devices are managing them.” Some of the diverse speakers/panelists include the SVP of Creative at Walt Disney Imagineering, Joe Rohde, Chief Engineer at JPF/NASA, Briian Muirhead, ‘Game of Thrones’ Director, Matt Shakman, Emmy Award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor, Jay Worth (Westworld), RKS Designs CEO/HBR Contributor, Ravi Sawhney and a special interview with Golden Globe-winning actor, Ewan McGregor. 

Epic International Summit Logo

FourSight is proud to sponsor EPIC in its first year. We encourage you to check it out and come, whether to hear the remarkable lineup of speakers, or just to take a moment out of your busy life to pause and reboot your own creativity.



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