And now for something completely different: how a spinning top can stimulate your creativity

Meditation helps creativity. Zen meditation is a good example of how an activity can be used to attain quietude and rest. A state of mind is attained that opens up the creative gates. To get to the peace of mind that is needed to create “flow” in the first place, you can use less exotic means as well. I wanted to know if a spinning top, type “Inception”, could make it happen as it says on Canadian ForeverSpin’s website. And guess what? If you don’t turn it into a competition, it actually can.

Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system modes oppose one another. Sympathetic activities include the “fight or flight” reflex, while parasympathetic action deals with resting, digesting and healing. Bringing about parasympathetic activity takes more time than bringing on the biochemistry of fight or flight. To get into healing mode, there is no choice but to slow down and loosen up. The biochemicals of rest and digest are critical for long term survival. To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, you must learn what truly makes you feel relaxed. For some, this means engaging in a hobby, but better is to get out into nature and concentrating on purposeless, repetitive events. Spinning a top is as purposeless and repetitive as anything else, so I tried this out with the ForeverSpin stainless steel top that costs about €35.

spinning top

This spinning top is the one you see used in the movie Inception as a totem. The idea of a spinning top as an instrument to activate the parasympathetic system is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Spinning a top doesn’t require much space, doesn’t require thinking and can be done over and over. It also appeals to our inner child, which is exactly the state of mind that you want to be in to feel secure (regardless of what your actual childhood was like).

The ForeverSpin top is surprisingly small and easy to play with and you can do it pretty much anywhere, anytime as it doesn’t raise attention from others — unless you go wild with it. After a few weeks toying with the thing I was hooked on doing it a couple of times a day, because watching it spin for a minute or two disconnects you from the world around you without going overboard.

ForeverSpin spinning tops are perhaps a bit pricey, but when you compare them to the Chinese rubbish you can buy online for less than €10, the price is totally justified. The top itself is in perfect balance, nicely made in Canada, with a certificate that it’s been quality checked. If you’re going to use a spinning top as a meditation tool, a balanced top is essential to avoid frustration — which will make stress kick in again.

ForeverSpin sells its spinning tops online exclusively. They have a range of finishes, including 24kt gold plated ones and a new one made of damascus steel. Their most expensive top is currently a tungsten one, which is very heavy and said to be quite hard to spin.

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