Ray Dalio: Meditation as a Tool to Generate Ideas

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Principles: Life and Work" by Ray Dalio. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What are the benefits of meditation? How does meditation help with creativity?

According to Ray Dalio, meditation can help sprout new innovative ideas by reconciling the two yous: the conscious you and the subconscious you. When you are only engaging your conscious mind, you are missing out on the fountain of creative ideas buried in your subconscious,

Here is how meditation can help you unleash your creative potential.

Ray Dalio on Meditation

Dalio argues that the best ideas and decisions may come from the cooperation of the two yous, not when the rational you completely subjugates the subconscious you. For example, sometimes the greatest inspiration “pops up” from our subconscious. This happens most often when you’re relaxed and not consciously forcing yourself to come up with great ideas. The conscious logical mind then examines the ideas for how good they are.

(Shortform note: You can see the power of your subconscious mind in action when you dream.  In Why We Sleep, author Matthew Walker writes that in the dream stage of sleep, when you’re fully relaxed, you create novel connections between ideas, which increases creativity and problem-solving ability and leads to a higher-level comprehension of ideas.)

According to Ray Dalio, meditation creates an equanimity that allows clearer and more creative thinking. Dalio personally likes transcendental meditation to connect the conscious to the subconscious.

(Shortform note: Aside from creative thinking, you can also use meditation to understand your biases and fears. Understanding your own mind in this way can help you make better sense of the world and lead you to act more wisely and effectively.) 

Reconciling the two yous isn’t just something you do on a personal level. It’s also something you have to consider when talking to someone else, because you’re dealing with their two yous.  You can be engaged in one of four conversations, without realizing which one you’re in: Your subconscious you might be talking to the other person’s rational you, or vice versa; or both of your subconscious emotional yous are battling with each other. This leads to misunderstandings and arguments.

(Shortform note: Navigating the conversation between the two emotional yous effectively requires you to recognize and manage your emotions as well as the other person’s emotions. This means understanding how your emotions affect you, knowing how to calm down when an emotional response surfaces, and being aware of the triggers of the other person’s response.)

Ray Dalio: Meditation as a Tool to Generate Ideas

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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