Meditate to Innovate

Innovation has been the most beloved word in corporate vocabulary for the last couple of decades. From academic light houses to top managers, all have been proposing ways to bring in innovation to their organizational products, processes and business models. While going into the fundamentals, we find that innovation starts with ‘Newness’ of things. ‘It all starts with a new idea!’ And I wonder where is this new idea coming from? Have we ever understood the process of generating newness? Can we manage ourselves to generate newness or is it always accidental? How does our mind produce newness?

History of science is peppered with stories of discovery, with some of the biggest breakthroughs coming from seemingly everyday occurrences. One of the oldest and well-known tales revolves around Archimedes’ legendary “Eureka!” moment when he realized the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath. While others came across their biggest newest ideas in dreams – James Watson reported stumbling upon the double helix image for the DNA chain through his dream of a spiral staircase and Friedrich Kekulé discovered the seemingly impossible chemical structure of benzene when he had a dream of a group of snakes swallowing their tails. Convincing indeed! The explanations to these innovations range from Jung’s work on human psychology claiming these to be divine messages in dreams to mere co-incidences as suggested by Freud’s work on human dreaming.

My personal inquires have explored dimensions from classical psychology to philosophy, religion, spirituality, mysticism and esoteric sciences. And I have an answer to this matter! To not just swallow the intellectual understanding provided here but to really see the point requires a great deal of openness and attention.

Mind is nothing but past, a collection of memories which it keeps on repeating through its thoughts, emotions, desires and other contents to create a recycled past a.k.a future. Unless we ourselves observe the moment of mind, the statement I just made would always remain an unconvincing assumption. That is where meditation comes into play. One aspect of being in meditation is to be the observation of the movement of mind. One clearly sees the continuity of past, unable to touch the present, and creating the future repeatedly. However, the beauty of this observation is that a point comes where the movement of mind stops, and for the first time, the present opens up with all its eternal depths and infinite possibilities. Only out of this state enters the new into our existence and our minds to become a part of the cycle. Fact is that during several fractional moments in our daily lives we have these states of ‘mindlessness’ which keeps on sourcing in anything new in case. However, unless one meditates to know, this phenomenon remains accidental and all newness is credited to our celebrated minds.

I am not alone in suggesting the power of meditation to achieve innovation. Apparently there is an initiative at Shell to train employees with meditation techniques to spread innovation culture across the organization. I personally don’t agree to several details of their concept as such, but the fundamental idea cannot be denied.

Gone are those days when meditation was seen as mere woo woo and it gives me pleasure to see the topic being heavily debated in mainstream scientific community as well. I wonder if man ever will realize the possibilities he carries within himself…

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