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The Psychophysiological Basis of Creativity and Intuition: Accessing “The Zone” of Entrepreneurship

Dana Tomasino

HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, California, USA and e-Motion Institute, Auckland, New Zealand.

Paper presented at the Third AGSE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, February 8–10, 2006, Auckland, New Zealand, and accepted for publication in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business (2007).

For a PDF version of the complete paper, click here.

Abstract

Successful entrepreneurs are innovators and risk-takers who appear to have an extraordinary ability to know where future business opportunities will eventuate and how to profitably actualize these ventures. The patterns of thought and action displayed by entrepreneurs are thus informed by an unusually high degree of both creativity and intuition. Research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath has focused on elucidating the psychophysiological basis of creativity and intuition, and on using this knowledge to better understand how these capacities may be enhanced. We have identified a distinct psychophysiological state which appears to facilitate creativity and receptivity to intuitive insight. This state, termed psychophysiological coherence, is characterized by a system-wide shift toward increased order, synchronization, and harmony in an individual’s physiological and psychological processes. The coherent state is naturally activated during the experience of sustained positive emotions. This paper will describe the physiological and psychological correlates of coherence and discuss how this state facilitates the processes underlying creativity and intuition. Examining creative and intuitive processes as body-wide phenomena, particular attention is given to the important role played by interactions between the heart and brain.

An increased understanding of the psychophysiological basis of intuition has enabled the development of practical techniques and technologies to help people learn how to increase psychophysiological coherence and thus systematically enhance intuitive receptivity at will. The learning and practice of coherence-building techniques can be greatly facilitated by heart rhythm coherence feedback technology, which enables psychophysiological coherence to be objectively monitored and quantified in real time. By providing objective validation of the coherent state, this technology enables individuals to quickly become familiar with the feeling experience associated with a shift to an optimal psychophysiological “zone” for enhancing creativity and intuition. Coherence-building tools and heart rhythm coherence feedback technology have potential important applications in entrepreneurial research and practice, including use as a measurement tool in research on entrepreneurial intuition, as well as in training existing and prospective entrepreneurs to enhance their creative and intuitive capacities.