Why Do Ideas Strike More Frequently When We Are In The Shower?

Previously, I wrote about how one of my favourite things to do is to stare out of the glass window while I commute to school or to work. Somehow, it seems to open up my mind and I get to think more freely. As a result, I stumbled upon a lot of realisation of which some drastically corrected courses in making certain decisions in my life. I am glad that I am aware of such an activity I can leverage on to spark creativity, but I discovered it isn’t the only task that is capable of doing so.

All of us have gone through similar experiences of amazement and inspiration when we step into the shower too. We strip our clothes off, we turn on the tap and water starts raining on our faces. We use our favourite products and we smell fabulous. All of a sudden, we slip into another zone. It is possible that we’ve been doing this all our lives that this task becomes too easy for us, so we momentarily lose track of what we’re doing physically. Somehow, we begin to tap into the deeper inner recesses of our minds.

… BAM! Inspiration strikes.

Personally, this happens when I stare out of the glass window when I commute to school or to work. This happens when I am in the shower. This happens when I am cooling down after a workout. This happens when I finish a book or a movie. This happens when I am listening to a song (especially from my favourite artist — Damien Rice). The common thread in these activities is that they are physically or mentally active, but only mildly so. Furthermore, these activities are familiar and comfortable enough that I stay engaged with dopamine streaming through my body, but not bored, and last long enough to have an uninterrupted stream of thought.

It is when we’re in a relaxed state of mind that we can better connect and create more ideas and insights.

At this point in time, it is useful to know that there are four main brainwave frequencies and each of them affects our state of mind differently. Each frequency is measured in cycles per second (Hz) and has its own set of characteristics representing a specific level of brain activity and unique state of consciousness.

1. Beta (14–40 Hz): The Waking Consciousness & Reasoning Wave
Most, if not all of us, usually operate at Beta. Beta brain wavers are typically associated with normal waking consciousness with a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning. It is crucial for effective functioning throughout the day. But as you may have guessed it, it also can translate into stress, anxiety and restlessness if we remain too long in such a state.

2. Alpha (7.5–14 Hz): The Deep Relaxation Wave
If we are able to hear our thoughts or feel our intuition a little clearer, there is a high chance we’re operating at Alpha. Alpha brain waves are present in deep relaxation, especially in moments when we are slowly sinking into a daydream mode while we are in the shower. It is in this state of relaxed alertness that facilitates inspiration, fast assimilation of facts and heightened memory. The Alpha state is how we can get in touch with our subconscious mind.

3. Theta (4–7.5 Hz): The Light Meditation and Sleeping Wave
The very moment we drift off to sleep and the very moment we wake up from it is the best representation of the Theta state. I’m certain some of us would agree that we feel the most at peace in this state, albeit only experiencing it briefly on a day to day basis. Our thoughts are not heavy at all, and the only thing on our mind is the consciousness of us being conscious. Sometimes we get to teeter at the Alpha-Theta border, from 7Hz to 8Hz, where we are able to relate with some of our deepest untapped and unresolved emotions.

4. Delta (0.5–4 Hz): The Deep Sleep Wave:
We’re asleep, but we’re not aware that we’re asleep. This is when we recover in our deep sleep.

Back to the question — Why do ideas strike more frequently when we are in the shower? Because we’re relaxed, distracted and in a good mental place. The point in getting a better understanding of the different states of our brain, especially the Alpha state, is to recognise various conditions that optimise the occurrence of creativity.

Now, we get a clearer idea of how to create a similar environment, as to being in a shower, that can allow our mind to wander a little further than usual. We can take a walk. We can go for a jog. We can swim as well. Yoga is also an effective way to actively put ourselves in the state of Alpha. What are some of the other activities in our lives that provide a little task to do, but not so much that we need to be mentally dedicated to them?

There is a fine line between fishing and doing nothing. We would like to think that we’re fishing, but the truth is we don’t have the line.