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David Winterbourne: Lurpak campaign

Work / Opinion

Is mindfulness the key to keeping creativity flowing?

Back in February, we spoke to a number of creatives about how they use meditation in their work. David Winterbourne spent 20 years working in some top London ad agencies, and for him, “mindfulness is the key to keeping creativity flowing.” Below, he tells us why.

When deadlines are looming, timings are slipping and creative ideas are just not hitting the mark, fear, stress, and panic set in and it feels like those emotions are there to stay. Everyone feels the pressure and so the The Blame Game begins – Account Handlers vs Producers, Strategists Vs Creatives, and often Agencies vs Clients. What is needed is collaboration, empathy and communication, to dissipate these negative emotions and enable clarity of thought in order to efficiently move forward.

I have been a project director involved in many tricky situations and campaigns, and the core part of my role has always been to ensure teams have remained in the flow. At 17 I started in advertising on a two-week contract, and have lived and breathed every aspect of the industry ever since. What a journey – massive highs and also extremely stressful lows – fuelled by pure adrenaline. I guess that’s why I love it so much. Looking back, I wish I had someone to teach me not just the tools that would help with my job but with my wellbeing as well, as I feel like I only just survived.

My sister and mother meditated daily; I never had the time. There was always something more urgent requiring my attention. Working hard, playing hard, or just being too exhausted from one or both of those activities to be able to do anything at all. Then one day I decided I would find out about transcendental meditation and went on a weekend course. This changed everything. I experienced the benefits of meditation first hand. Transcendental meditation requires at least twenty minutes of meditation twice a day, and at first I was dedicated to this, however it didn’t take long for work or other distractions to take over once again.

I needed more practical tools and ways of responding to stressful situations in the moment, not just when I could find the time at the beginning and end of my day. Because of my experiences in the advertising industry – I know that this is what everyone needs, and that is why I actively encourage creative agencies to adopt mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness has been shown to increase productivity, creativity, empathy, health, wellbeing, and enhance clarity in decision making amongst a wealth of other benefits, and I can say that when utilising mindfulness in my daily life, I can verify that it works – therefore I think it definitely could be the key to keeping the creativity flowing.