I’m sure you’ve experienced this: wandering around aimlessly on a Sunday walk, getting sleepy in your comfy armchair, or contemplating life while sitting on a toilet… Suddenly a brilliant idea hit you. Such a creative thought you haven’t stumbled across before!

What is this sudden stroke of luck?

One of the most creative states we can find ourselves in is when our brain produces so-called alpha waves (between 8 and 12 Hertz, which can be measured on an EEG).

While higher speed frequencies (beta and gamma, 12 to 100 Hz) help us stay alert, focused, and solve problems, the slowest types of brainwaves (delta and theta, 0,5 to 8 Hz), on the other hand, are a sign that we are probably enjoying a “deep and dreamless slumber” (Westworld, anyone?), or we’re just being extremely relaxed.

The alpha waves, lingering somewhere in between, are therefore the perfect place for artists to find themselves. It’s the sweet spot from which the most original ideas spring up, but without too much effort or pressure.

In an alpha state, the brain uses all the acquired knowledge, experiences, and concepts from the past, creating new, fresh, and unexpected connections. A powerful melody, word pun, an idea for a book, a solution to something you’ve been thinking about for a long time… It suddenly pops up, God knows from where. But watch out! If you don’t catch it immediately and don’t start consciously developing it, it will probably dissolve again into the next burst of neural waves.


And how to replicate it?

You can call it wakeful rest, relaxation, light meditation, staring into space, or looking vacantly… It has many names, and there are many ways how to train our brain (yes, according to studies it can be trained to produce the desired wavelength!) to slip in there.

Just as we tune a musical instrument before playing, we can also tune ourselves before creating—to the alpha level. It’s pretty simple, and we’ve practiced it since we were kids.

At school, the beta was the preferred state (lots of learning there), but we just stared into the ceiling instead. And that was a wise thing to do since it increases the quality of relaxation and rest, as well as boosts our immune system and productivity.

“Staring into space”, daydreaming, mindfulness (or rather mind-emptiness, as Eckhart Tolle puts it), monotonous activity, walking, cycling, showering, or practically any activity where we don’t have to focus too much and can more or less dissolve into the present moment—that’s where the real creative treasures lie. After all, the idea for this article came to me somewhere between alpha, theta, and unconsciousness.

So go for a walk, unwind, play an instrument just for fun, without trying to achieve anything, get bored, doodle and scribble, do nothing… And I’m sure the right creative idea will emerge. And if not—you know where to find me. Let’s make waves together!

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