Healthy Living

Creativity: natural gift or cultivated mindset?

I am an artist. I don’t use this descriptive often, but the voices in my head tell me I am so, okay!

I’m a writer. The voices originate within a colorful, swirling imagination filled with different people, places, and things. As an artist, I might be considered more of a right-brained thinker — the typical association with creative pursuits. If I had paid closer attention in math classes, perhaps I’d be an engineer and thus, more of a left-brained thinker — the standard link to analytical activity. Extensive research indicates the two hemispheres process information differently.

The right hemisphere sparks some of these characteristics:

  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Holistic thinking
  • Intuition
  • Arts as a motor skill
  • Rhythmic ability
  • Non-verbal
  • Emotional
  • Visualization
  • Tunes of songs
  • Daydreaming

The left hemisphere ignites some of these characteristics:

  • Logic
  • Analysis
  • Sequencing
  • Linear thinking
  • Mathematics
  • Language
  • Facts
  • Think in words
  • Words of songs
  • Computation

Looking at the qualities on these lists, it appears a writer is one type of artist who relies on right-brain imagination and left-brain language abilities. So be to a writer requires both hemispheres to function properly.

In the 1970s, neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga popularized the concept of hemispheric processing, or split-brain theories, based on research with monkeys and later, humans. It involved serious repercussions for the monkeys, because his approach required removing one hemisphere of the brain to see how the other side would respond. Often, the remaining side couldn’t process what was going on.

Later, with human subjects, his research clarified that connective fibers between the two hemispheres determined how much both sides are needed for people to communicate and function effectively.

Respecting right vs. left brain function is a viable point, because individual hemispheres are directly responsible for important abilities such as speech, motor skills, spatial recognition and so on. But researchers continue to debunk pop culture’s click bait personality tests regarding right vs. left brain capabilities. Their bottom line is this: personality types have nothing to do with one hemisphere being more active, stronger or better connected.

Additionally, preliminary studies indicate yoga and meditation practices create a vital balance between the hemispheres to result in what’s called whole brain functioning. Through this synchronization, neurons build bridges to access both hemispheres, resulting in a more heightened flow of skills and characteristics for someone to experience.

If you don’t currently think of yourself as an artist, or right-brained, your yoga and meditation practices will likely awaken more associations with creativity.

This article was originally published in YogaIowa’s Summer 2017 issue.


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