You’ve been there – in the midst of a vigorous shampooing ritual and mid-foam-up, you suddenly have a light bulb moment that effectively solves the problem you and your team puzzled over just the day before. No, it’s not the magic of warm water. Nor is it an enchanted formula the Irish Spring folks are using in little green soap bars. It’s not magic. It’s the power of a clear mind.
In fact, you probably have had these profound thoughts at other inconvenient times too. Like when you were lulled off to sleep during Letterman or when you zoned out (or in, depending on how productive your thoughts proved to be) during your morning run. It’s not magic. It’s science. A clear mind allows for creative thought. An actively engaged mind allows only for task-oriented thought.
Getting Your Creative Thoughts Flowing
If you think about it showering, running, and dozing are all activities that can successfully be accomplished without any real mental effort. Once you have decided to do one of these activities, you can just do them. No thought required.
All these activities are inherently predictable once we start. Hence, no more necessary thought. Not just that, but all these activities are quite rhythmic in nature, whether as a result of the pounding of feet, trickling of water or hypnotic sound of inhale-exhale. Showering doesn’t require active thought. It’s the well-rehearsed choreographed pattern of muscle movements, à la “Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.” It leaves your mind free to just be.
By and large, the ritual of showering (and other predictable patterned activities) allows us to embark on some form of meditation – the Grade-A breeding ground for innovative thoughts. It creates just the right environment for good ideas to linger about and plop down as inspiration from on high. So whether or not we’re actually cognizant of it, we reap the mental benefit of the daily shower as it cues our brains to pull out all those amazing thoughts that are hidden away in the crevices.
If you have the privilege of showering for 5 or 10 minutes a day absolutely free from interruptions (and guilt about what a 7-minute shower may be doing to the rainforests), you create for yourself the optimal environment for ideation. No ringing phone. No email. Just you and your brain chillin’ out.
The Power of Brain Drift
All the great things that you have witnessed in life have been inspired by thought. As I write this, I can see a jet flying off in the distance. That jet was first a thought. The salt shaker on the table – someone’s thought. Your car, your clothes, your best vacation ever – all a result of someone’s thoughts (perhaps yours). And those thoughts didn’t happen while someone was frantically responding to emails. It happened when they gave themselves enough time for the thoughts to flow.
If you want big successes in life, you need to allow your brain to drift. Brain Drifting is my definition of impromptu meditation where you silence your mind from all the outside noises. You can surely do a six-hour lotus position chant mediation, but it probably isn’t practical. So instead, seek out relaxing, predictable pattern activities that are void of outside “noise” (sorry – but watching TV doesn’t make the cut – way too much outside noise).
Create a new Brain Drift habit. Take a longer shower. Go for a country road drive, just to drive. Run without the cell phone or rock music blasting. Or, my favorite – go to a spa once a week for an hour-long massage. All of these activities will trigger Brain Drift. And if your spouse complains that you go to the spa too much, tell them I made you go. After all, that’s when you get your best work done.