When thoughts come up during meditation, the advice is to acknowledge and label them - and return to your breathing. Among the usual labels, I have one called "solution". The majority of thoughts coming up are easily dismissed, but I actually don't like to dismiss the solution category.
These "solutions" are often creative ideas in areas I was stuck. Some sort of minor "eureka" moments which I encounter also in the shower or during walks.
This inspired me to think a bit more about creativity and meditation - and what impact meditation might have on creativity. For me as a software developer, creativity is very important. I see two two main aspects: the drive to be creative and the creative process.
One of the main themes of meditation is to learn to see things as they really are. In an audio of Jack Kornfield concerning this topic, he mentioned the word "worrier" - and yes, as a worrier you want to see things as they are - not tainted by wishful thinking, illusions or distortions.
But what about if you try to be creative? Trying to offer with new and better ways. Trying even though the odds are not in your favour. When I started my first start-up in 1999, I thing that some people viewed me as a bit delusional - trying to develop a better mousetrap (ERP software system) on my own. When I was running out of money, I researched Venture Capital options and read that the chance of being funded my a major VC company is similar to be hit by lightning in an empty pool in Los Angeles. Well, pressing on ignoring reality for some time, I managed to get $6 million for my first round for Compiere. (with hindsight, a bit more seeing things as they really are then might have prevented that I had to watch the decline of my creation)
Emptiness after Buddha
Some years ago, I had the chance to visit India for business. I was amazed by the stark contrasts - and especially that the poor people actually looked quite happy and relaxed - when not aware of being watched by tourists. I was taken to a very beautiful temple (why are the temples so magnificent and even the direct surrounding so ... not magnificent?). There they had a Disney style boat tour through India's history. The tour showed the cultural development of India over several thousand years. I was reminded, that they invented the Zero and trigonometry well before the Greeks, learned that they were able to sail the open see well before the Phoenicians and had quite advanced medical insights. Highlight after highlight - the last one was Buddha. Then nothing and darkness for a while - with finally the "revival starting now" declaration at the end. I was happy that they did not claim the later Persian and Afghan accomplishments like my Indian guide at Taj Mahal.
I did not know what to make out of this - emptiness after Buddha. When learning a bit more about meditation later, an idea started to form: when it is the objective to be contempt with what you have and try to live peaceful with all beings and see things as they really are - where goes ambition and perfection? When concentrating on the inner world and feelings - where goes accomplishments and invention? I don't think that India's development loosing steam after Buddha is caused by meditation, but it might be a factor. Maybe misunderstanding what meditation is about?
The drive for creativity
There is the saying that "war is the mother of invention". If you read the Wikipedia entry on Invention, you find words like internal drive, obsession, vision - but also insight. Gaining insight is certainly a meditation objective.
When you want to change the world (a very tiny aspect), I think you have to believe in the impossible or unknown - by other people's standards. We live in a world where people want the chance to turn "from dishwasher to millionaire", producing lots of "getting rick quickly" scams and books. So could be that if people concentrate on seeing things as they really are they concentrate more on accepting the situation rather than on changing it?
Ultimately it comes down to the wisdom part of the serenity prayer (... serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference). When the chances are slim, a certain portion of tunnel vision might be required to press on pursuing your objective.
The creativity process
Checking on to the Creativity entry, Wikipedia states, that traditionally eastern view is that creation was at most a kind of discovery or mimicry. Raised in western culture, I like the divine inspiration and genius idea, but I guess the down to earth eastern explanation is more realistic - although I always liked the muse aspect.
Creativity is nothing but insight and mimicry? This takes the glamor away. The objective is to come up with a new, better, useful way - not to mimic but to evolve and maybe mutate.
I completely agree that the majority of being creative is to be systematic - trying or thinking through different combinations and alternatives. This is analytic approach is probably required for later to have "eureka" moments. For me, these occur when I am not tying to come up with a solution, but when I am relaxed and "do nothing".
For the creativity drive aspect, to keep going requires that one sees things differently than (most) other people. The art is to realize when it is a lost cause.
For the creativity process, I certainly don't know enough about the effects of mediation. Not sure if I should happily dismiss "solution" labeled thoughts. I am attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference this week - let's see what others think.
So, back to observing my breath - need more insight ... trying to see things as they really are.
(Muses breathe too - right? - hopefully in my direction :-)