Sunday, 17 June 2012

I am a morning person...

I know this because mostly I wake up in a good mood. I sing a lot, smile a lot and speak loudly to the dogs. 

"Make it stop..."
Whatever I do first thing is usually the thing I feel I have done best in the entire day. If I can start writing as soon as I get out of bed (after a cuppa, of course) I am at my most productive, creative and focused.

I am reliably informed this is something to do with brain waves.  In case you didn’t know, the brain has four different frequencies of brain waves, depending on the type of mental activity involved.

They are

  • Beta waves - associated with peak concentration, heightened alertness and visual acuity.
  • Alpha waves - associated with deep relaxation, and thought to be the gateway to creativity
  • Theta waves - associated with the twilight state that we experience fleetingly as we drift off to sleep and are strongly linked with creativity and intuition.
  • Delta waves - associated with deep sleep.

The most relevant of these to writers and other creatives are alpha waves, which appear when your eyes are closed and your mind is in a quiet state of relaxation. Usually this is between sleeping and waking (and vice versa) but an alpha state can be induced to enhance creative flow. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning.

When your brain is in an alpha rhythm state, the critical censoring function performed by your left brain is half asleep and the feelings and images from your creative right brain can more easily pass through the gate-keeper of your left hemisphere, unaffected by judgment, and into your conscious mind. 

Scientists who know about these things have been able to demonstrate that highly creative people have more alpha brain waves than non-creative people, that they are able to generate a big burst of the alpha stuff whenever they are faced with problems to solve, and that they have more insights or inspirations. Equally, less creative people who have sudden strokes of inspiration or insights should know that their brain has just produced more alpha waves than usual.

Phil was not a morning person
Concrete thoughts, physical activity, sudden noise or light on the retina of the eye can send the brain out of alpha and into beta wave activity. 

Since alpha brain wave activity is at its height when you first wake up, my early morning bursts of creativity should come as no surprise. But, for those creatives who are not ‘morning people’ alpha waves also occur naturally as you are falling asleep or day dreaming. You can induce an alpha state by closing your eyes, being aware of your breathing and counting backwards from 100 slowly in your head. When you reach zero, you should have slowed down your brain waves sufficiently to be able to start creating. At this point, open your eyes, grab your pen and write. 

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