Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Ideas Aloft – A Reflection on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Posted by Plish on October 28, 2013

Winds rustled the trees and chilled me as I walked through the woods.  A marsh bordered my path and I was amazed by the volume of white fluffy seeds, swirling and dancing on the winds.

It got me thinking about the need for seeds to leave where the place they were grown so that they could begin again.  I thought about ideas and a metaphor presented itself:

What if ideas were seeds?

I filmed what I saw and wrote a haiku to get myself (and you!) to think about the process of getting ideas implemented, of the powers that need to be present to move an idea to fruition.

Alas, I’m writing too much. Here’s the short 24 second video.  Enjoy, and spend some time with the images and thoughts!

I’d love to hear yours…


Posted in creativity, Design, innovation, meditation, nature, Nature of Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Art, Lent(?), and Innovation

Posted by Plish on February 24, 2013


“Art, after all, is about rearranging us, creating surprising juxtapositions, emotional openings, startling presences, flight paths to the eternal.”   – from The Art of Possibility by Benjamin, and Rosamund Stone, Zander.

A friend of mine read the above quote and said, “Sounds like the purpose of Lenten Services.”


She juxtaposed art and spirituality in a wonderful manner.

I’m taking it one step further.

The purpose of being rearranged is so that people can improve their relationships with each other, with the Eternal and with themselves.

So, if we become open and have flight paths to the eternal, are emotionally vulnerable, become aware of others and their needs, what types innovations would we bring into the world?

“Every good painter paints what he is.” -Jackson Pollock

I would say that every person creates from what she is.  If we become rearranged as mentioned above, our creations naturally reflect that which we are realizing in our lives.

Try this thought experiment:

What would a doctor’s office look like if it were designed by the Dalai Lama? How would people be treated? What would waiting rooms look like? Would people feel more nervous or less than they do now? What would it sound like? What would the air taste like?

Every good painter paints what he is.

And that’s the key.  Whether in art or spirituality (and many would say there is no dichotomy in art/spirituality) we have to be willing to be rearranged.  If we aren’t willing to be open to going in new directions, to explore, to feel the discomfort of stepping off precipices and trusting we will fly, then we won’t be rearranged, and not only will we not be elevated from glory to glory, but the world will not experience light which only we can share.

So what does that mean?

Listen to music…go to the theater…meditate…pray…taste fruit you just picked off a tree and write a haiku of the experience…sculpt…sing a song…

…Paint the world with what you are…Show the world that being rearranged isn’t a singular exercise in destruction, but an empowering act of creation…

Think of what the world would be if each person lived as a surprising juxtaposition, an emotional opening, a startling presence, a flight path to the eternal…

…Start becoming rearranged…



Posted in Arts, Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, meditation, prayer, Religion, Service Design, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Spirituality, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Music, Art, Creativity, Nature and More – An Interview with Jon Anderson of YES

Posted by Plish on February 13, 2013

Check out this recent interview with Jon Anderson of YES.   (There is a sign-in on the page but you can click the ‘x’ and listen to the interview without registering if that is your choice.)

He shares perspectives on life, creativity, nature, music and more.

From the webpage:

Millions of enthusiastic concert goers during the 1970′s and early 1980′s had a marvelous treat on their hands, going from one progressive rock concert to another. Whether it was a live concert or gazing into the magnificent dreamlike artwork of Roger Dean or the sounds of Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Nektar or Yes, the music evoked beautiful images of the night sky, where we could gave at the shining stars and create our own “Wondrous Stories.”

Verge Multimedia’s Steven Zuckerman had the opportunity to spend about 40 minutes in conversation with world renown singer, songwriter and artist Jon Anderson who spent a majority of his career as the front-man of YES, bringing the audience into a world of beautiful imagery and ideas that resonated in the hearts of the band members.

Jon told (Zuckerman) that the music begins with the creator, and, in other words, flows through him. Composing and singing songs about the earth, environment, peace, love, harmony and beauty are not personal songs for the composer, but they’re Wondrous Stories (no pun intended) to arouse curiosity and confirm that as human beings, as part of this place we call our home, (we) need to be in balance with Nature, for without Nature, we are nothing. We are all part of the same material.

Said Zuckerman, “(While I) originally penned out several questions before the conversation, I tossed them aside to “just have a conversation.” We hope you will enjoy the conversation we had.”


Posted in Arts, Creative Environments, creativity, Great Creative Minds, innovation, Interviews, meditation, Musical Creativity, nature, Nature of Creativity, Play, Social Responsibility, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Building Empathy on the Road to Innovation (and a Better World)

Posted by Plish on October 5, 2012

While the woman on the table braced herself for the extremely invasive transvaginal ultrasound, the technician tried to calm her:

“You know, when I was in school, they had us go through this exact same procedure so that we can understand what you’re feeling while you’re going through this.”

The woman smiled slightly, relaxed, and thought to herself, “At least this won’t be as bad as it could be…”

And it wasn’t…

Empathy goes a long way towards impacting how we behave with others, how we design products and services for others.  Sometimes, as with the ultrasound technician, a shared experience forms the empathic response.  However, we can likewise gain empathy by observing how others respond to certain situations – by reading people: looking at their faces, listening to their voices, watching how they fidget or stand still.

While responding to others’ expressions is somewhat ‘automatic’, the accuracy of our empathic responses can actually be improved.

Researchers at Emory University have developed a meditation protocol (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT) that trains people to be more effective in reading what others are feeling.

Study Co-author, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, had this to say:

“CBCT aims to condition one’s mind to recognize how we are all inter-dependent, and that everybody desires to be happy and free from suffering at a deep level.”

Build empathy and build a better world.

Sounds like mandatory training, not just for innovators, but for all humans…


Posted in Behavioral Science, Case Studies, cognitive studies, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, innovation, Innovation Tools, meditation, Research, Science, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mushin – Innocence and Simplicity in Design and Innovation

Posted by Plish on May 6, 2011

Where does good design come from?  Is it a representation of who each of us is?  If so, then surely self-awareness comes in to play?

I came across this short reflection (Via Charlie Badenhop of Seishindo) by a Japanese architect who we know as Okamoto.

Please give it a read and I’ll join you on the other side…

From time to time I get to meet exceptional teachers in Japan. Often what happens is I go to visit a friend and it turns out that one of the other guests is a highly regarded sensei.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet a man that works as an architect. Here is what Okamoto sensei had to say about his work.

“Charlie-san, our host said you have an interest in architecture. She suggested I tell you about the concepts that influence my work, and thus I’ve taken some time to think about this topic. In Japanese culture, and particularly in Japanese architecture mushin is an important concept to understand. In relationship to my work, the two ideas I hold in regard to the meaning of mushin are “innocence” and “free from obstructive thinking”. I strive to make all my work as simple as possible, without any visual, emotional, or physical obstructions.

What I’ve found over the years is, the simpler you make something, the more obvious the obstructions in your thinking appear. Rather than being bothered or constrained by the relationship between simplicity and obstruction, I find it very energizing. In the early stages of each new design, I look forward to discovering the weakness in my thinking. This leads me to understand I sometimes try to hide my weaknesses by obscuring them with complexity. The more simple the design, the less there is to hide behind. I must say that each time I discover this I am humbled. It’s only by being willing to own up to my many personal flaws, that I can little by little do away with the flaws in my designs.

In both my personal and professional life, I attempt to discard all extraneous actions and thought. I strive to be economical, ecological, and graceful, and follow a path of least resistance and optimal effect. I’ve found that I am most likely to embody this way of being prior to reflecting on what I’m doing. At such times, which still only happen rarely for me, I’m in a state of open focus relaxation, and my thoughts and actions occur simultaneously. Nothing comes between my thoughts and my actions, and neither is anything left over, or left undone. When I’m able to embody such a state I feel better both physically and emotionally, and I consider my work to be a reflection of my soul.

Sensei paused to make certain he still had my attention. “If you don’t mind,” he said, “let me please say one more thing, at the risk of filling the space with too many words.

Tao de Ching, the classic Chinese text of wisdom says the following,

A door and windows are cut out from the walls, to form a room. It’s the emptiness that the walls, floor, and ceiling encompass, that allows for the space to live in. Thus what we gain is Something, yet it’s from the virtue of Nothing that this Something derives.?

If you’ve ever been in a traditional Japanese room or Zen temple you’ll see that these spaces are filled with the same emptiness as described in the quote I’ve just read. Space is filled with “nothing”, as a way to allow for the infinite potential a room encompasses. This is an important part of the Japanese design aesthetic. The experience of “emptiness” is an invitation to empty one’s thinking mind, so that a new, innocent reality might appear.”***

I think my favorite quote (there are many actually) is: “This leads me to understand I sometimes try to hide my weaknesses by obscuring them with complexity.”

Complexity as Weakness’ disguise…

How many corporate cultures have complex innovation processes? What weaknesses are these complexities hiding?  What weaknesses are complex User Interfaces hiding?  Are these all reflections of the designer(s)?

Powerful questions to ask and not for the faint of heart.

What are your thoughts?

***Unless otherwise attributed, all material for the newsletter “Pure Heart, Simple Mind”™ is written and edited by Charlie Badenhop. If you would like to receive complimentary copies of future newsletters, please click on this link, http://www.seishindo.org/newsletters/ ©All rights reserved.

Posted in Architectural Design, Authenticity, creativity, Design, Experience, innovation, meditation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Creativity in the Silence…

Posted by Plish on August 4, 2009

leaves1 michaelplishka2009

I’ve always been a huge proponent of the need to quiet one’s self…

to center

to be present in the moment with who you are

Not who you want to become

Not with what you were

But with who you are

It’s the you of the Now that is brilliantly creative

It’s the you of the Now that has the solution to your problems

The river of information flows incessantly

We draw from the river with feverish pitch

As if drought were impending

 Fear of being without…

Creativity does not flow in the din of that river of eddies and vortices!

The Silent River of Beauty…

Drink from Her…

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, meditation, nature, Nature of Creativity, prayer, problem solving, Spirituality, The Human Person, The Senses, Twitter, Web 2.0, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Meditating/Praying Your Way to Creativity

Posted by Plish on February 24, 2009

Patricia Spurio meditates while having her EEG measured. Credit: © Maharishi University of Management

Patricia Spurio meditates while having her EEG measured. Credit: © Maharishi University of Management


Learning, living, partying, studying, depression, socializing….


Researchers have shown that college students who meditated on a regular basis for 10 weeks had more integrated brains, were less jumpy,  and less sleepy. 

“The pressures of college can be overwhelming-44% of college students binge drink, 37% report use of illegal drugs, 19% report clinical depression, and 13% report high levels of anxiety,” said Fred Travis, lead author and director of the MUM brain research center.

Travis said the data from the non-meditating control group showed the detrimental effects of college life on the students. “The control group had lower Brain Integration Scale scores, indicating their brain functioning was more fragmented-which can lead to more scattered and disorganized thinking and planning. The controls also showed an increase in sympathetic reactivity and sleepiness, which can correspond to greater anxiety, worry and irritability” he said.

The lesson?

When in high stress situations humans need to find their centers, get in touch with peace and quiet, become a monk for 20 minutes or so.

The ability to think clearly is key to the success of athletes, businessmen; all people who have to make good decisions and/or perform certain tasks flawlessly.

To be creative/innovative means being able to see relationships where seemingly none exist, to ponder new realities. 

Try watching two bubbles of foam on the waves of a churning sea. 


Drop a pebble in a still pond and observe…

What do you do to find your center?

How does clarity of mind impact your creative endeavors?

How can industry improve creativity in light of this research?

Posted in Authenticity, Brain Stimulation Tools, cognitive studies, Health Concerns, innovation, meditation, Nature of Creativity, prayer, problem solving, Research, Spirituality, stress, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The Zen of Creativity – Book Summary

Posted by Plish on February 3, 2009


There is a book out entitled: The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life .

This blog entry has a summary of the book that is well worth reading. Regardless of your religious/spiritual/philosophical groundings there is some good information to glean here.  The first one I found particularly powerful so I’ll share it with you as well:

1. The role of the ‘still point’ in the creative process
The still point is at the heart of the creative process.
In Zen we access it through zazen meditation.
To be still is to create a state of consciousness that is open and receptive. It is very natural and uncomplicated. It’s not ‘esoteric’ in any way. Yet it’s incredibly profound.
The first step to access the still point is through single-pointedness of mind which builds our concentration (in Japanese Zen called ‘joriki’, the power of concentration). Joriki taps into our physical, mental and emotional reserves and opens our spiritual capacities. One way that our spiritual power begins to manifest is through the emergence of the intuitive aspect of our consciousness. (Electromagnetic waves in the hemispheres of the brain show nowadays the different patterns in different activities)
Single-pointed concentration develops our intuition. We become more directly aware of the world. It’s a fruition that comes after discipline and repetitive practice just like any other learning process. It’s a way of being. All our senses become open, alert, free of tension and receptive.
If this state can be cultivated in your being and in your life, then it will be present in your art!

Exercise: zazen
Try ‘just sitting’ and concentrating on your inward and outward breath for 15’ every day and also for 15’ before creating art.

In order for the creative juices to start flowing, we need to be able to relax our minds and bodies.  But, in order to go back to that relaxing peaceful place, we need to know what it’s like in the first place.   By practicing meditation or prayer, we teach our bodies and minds to focus and relax, almost ‘on demand’ as it were.  When we’re relaxed our subconscious can do a better job of solving problems and percolating these ideas to the surface (that’s why showers are such great places for idea generation and problem solving-there is a single-minded enjoyment of the water and seldom are we consciously running problems through our minds.)

Give meditation/prayer a try.  You might not only get more creative but you may start reaping other benefits as well!

What do you do to stimulate creativity?

What do you think of these Zen guidelines?

Posted in Authenticity, Books, Creative Environments, Design, meditation, Nature of Creativity, prayer, Spirituality, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Breaking the dam on the river of creativity

Posted by Plish on October 5, 2008

Some thoughts on ways of breaking through and coming up with new ideas when the river of creativity is dammed.

Posted in Creativity Videos, idea generation, Nature of Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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