• Christopher Mills

What do Willie Nelson and Thomas Edison have in common?

I recently listened to an interview of Howard Stern interviewing country music artist Willie Nelson, where Willie described his experience of writing three country music classics all in one week during the 1950’s – Crazy, Time Slips a Way and Night Life – as he was driving from Texas to Nashville. Not a bad week for the red-headed stranger.

When Willie needs to write a song, he doesn’t disappear into his studio with a pen and notepad, instead he goes for a drive on the highway.

Willie said, “If I really need and want to write a song today, I’ll get in the car and take off driven’ down the highway in any direction, it doesn’t matter, and I’ll write a song. When you are driving, I used to tell myself, if I can remember this until I get home and write it down, it will be a good song.”

Willie is riding the theta brain waves

According to researcher Ned Hermann, the link between highway driving and creativity is real, and it’s triggered by a change in brain-wave activity, going from a beta brain-wave state, which is normal awakened thinking, into deeper theta brain-wave state, characterized by a slower brain-wave frequency. People who daydream, who do a lot of freeway driving, and even individuals who run outdoors frequently slip into a theta state, which is considered a positive and healing mental state and a perfect state for free-flow creativity.

Thomas Edison and purposeful napping

The inventor Thomas Edison also took advantage of deeper states of consciousness. Edison famously took power naps when he was focused on a discovery or problem. He would hold two steel balls in both hands as he dozed off, and once he entered into deeper sleep, the balls would drop from his hands on to the floor, creating a crashing sound to awaken him. At that point, he would be ready with pen and paper to capture any thoughts. Edison was most likely dipping into deeper alpha and theta states of mind, and it was at this moment that Edison would capture many of his insights.

Looking for inspiration?

Willie Nelson and Thomas Edison both employed natural conscious-altering techniques that supported their creative process. But many great artists and thinkers have developed an ability to tap into their internal source of inspiration. Albert Einstein famously said, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”

Meditation is one of the greatest tools that supports creative inspiration. In Heartfulness meditation, we don’t put pressure on the mind through extreme focus, concentration or thinking. Instead, we gently get into “flow” by making a subtle connection with the heart.

You may quickly get into a state of mind that is so relaxing you start dreaming. For others, it may take a longer time to “go deep”, but witnessing your thoughts without judgement is also part of this path. All states of mind are perfectly acceptable as we go into a calmer and more centered state of being. And, during this process, you’ll naturally tap into alpha and theta states, with the occasional burst of deeper delta and brighter gamma, which are connected to expanded levels of consciousness.

The World Economic Forum recently listed their job skills outlook for 2022 and “creativity, originality and initiative” were listed as top skills, so the time is right to further develop your personal source of inspiration and creativity.

You can access your inner artist, inventor and yogi through the power of meditation, and Heartfulness Institute can support you on your journey. For guided meditations and rejuvenation exercises, visit heartfulnessinstitute.org/experience.

Chris Mills is a marketing director in the healthcare industry and a meditation trainer and speaker with Heartfulness Institute, a global nonprofit whose mission is to encourage self-development, stress management and an evolution of consciousness through a heart-centered lifestyle.

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