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edu180atl: jeff small 3.16.12

What do creativity, quantum mechanics, and meditation have in common?

I try to meditate every day, nothing exotic – just simply sitting or lying while watching my breath for ten or twenty minutes. By focusing on my breath, I am able to clear my mind of the constant thinking and analysis that goes on inside my head. Over the years, I have noticed that many of my most creative ideas come to me during or shortly after these sessions of mental quietude. It is as if these creative insights burst into existence out of nothing: a solution to a problem I’m struggling with at work, an idea for a blog post, a twist in my fiction writing. My best ideas come to me not when I’m thinking deductively about the issue, but when I empty my mind, giving it the space to relax and make connections that might be counterintuitive to my rational thought process.

During my meditation this morning, the idea of virtual particles, a concept from quantum mechanics, popped into my head. A vacuum is not what we may intuitively think – it isn’t purely empty space. Because of the probabilistic nature of subatomic particles, these particles may pop into and then out of existence (usually as a pair of matter and antimatter, which annihilate each other). In other words, the universe is inherently creative. Matter and energy appear out of emptiness, just like my creative thoughts if I can quiet my mind long enough to hear them.

About the author: Jeffrey Small is a school board member passionate about education in the 21st century and an author and speaker on spirituality in the modern world who wishes he would listen to his own advice.  Twitter: @jeffreysmalljr
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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for sharing the connections. It is good to hear from someone who carves out some time to just listen to the cycle of breathing. I appreciate your reminder that sitting with oneself in silence can free the mind to wander into wonderful insights. Do you think we should try this technique in our schools? Promote a meditative like experience at some point in the day.

    Thanks!

    Bob

    March 16, 2012
    • I do think we should be teaching meditation in schools. Not only are contemplative practices present in every one of the world’s religions, psychologists for years have been using mindfulness techniques in CBT, and hundreds of peer reviewed studies have been conducted showing the physical and psychological benefits of meditation. A number of schools have also experimented with meditation and mindfulness with great results. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/16/us/16mindful.html?pagewanted=all

      March 18, 2012
  2. I believe so deeply that if children could learn and practice contemplative practices they would breathe universally heard sighs of relief and thanks. I don’t know what I would do without them and wish I had learned them younger. Journaling each morning with my coffee at hand is a “must” start to my day and so often when I am walking Chastain unplugged from everything except the beauty around me I am somehow struck with ideas that don’t come in all the noise. We all need the silence and the capacity to access what comes to heart, mind and soul when we listen…then to act.

    Thank you, Jeff, for your wise and insightful words.

    March 18, 2012

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