Estrogen And Invention
ovulatory cycle & pregnancy
Do hormones activate creative thinking? Using fertility data from 70+ cycles, Shara Raqs discovered the time in her cycle that she was most likely to experience eureka moments.
Journal | Kindara
Estrogen and InventionSo, my talk is about the times in my cycle when I most likely to experienced eureka moments, but there’s actually eight other times when I also most likely to experience eight additional creative states.
See, I have been tracking my fertility data for over 70 cycles now but not for reasons of reproduction. I was not trying to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy and I have regular cycles, so I was not really interested in tracking symptoms.
What fascinates me is patterns in my data that help me understand more about the mosaic of my mind and help me to code the creative process as my body experiences it.
When I first started tracking, I didn’t have very many pieces of this puzzle, but it was clear that there was a pattern in my cycle. Here is a journal entry after a really awesome Prince concert. It was kind of transcendental, where I recognized for the first time that hormones had something to do with my creative thoughts. So, phase by phase, cycle by cycle, I started to weave together all the pieces of my mental mosaic.
It was something that I was trying to decode because I knew a pattern was there. I could literally feel it. It registered as a very apparent change in my creative mood, my thinking style, my energy, my motivation, and my ability to access certain talents or powers at certain times. But I just didn’t have a model of the words for it.
So, I leaped into the unknown. I got a little inventive and I chose ‘use’ as a metaphor for all this cognitive variability that I felt inside me and this is when things got really interesting.
So, this chart shows something pretty incredible. On day 13, I wrote my most fertile days I had a eureka moment. This Eureka experience happened at the same time that my fertility chart indicated that I ovulated, and at first, I couldn’t believe the data. It seemed too mystical to be real. But then it kept happening, and by the third occurrence it became obvious that my eureka moment are most likely to happen when I ovulate.
But I wasn’t just chasing epiphany. I wanted to know the complete inner workings of my cognitive variability. I wanted to know the reason why I had this distinct creative thinking styles that felt different. And I wanted to know if I could predict them. Then, at cycle 40, all the pieces of the puzzle came together.
I found a book call Your Creative Brain, and each chapter described what I already written in my own journal when I was identifying my own cycle pattern. So finally, I had a science-based explanation for the muse I had always felt in my own body.
So I really started to track this, and like the Greek muses I seemed to have about nine different creative thinking styles that I could see from my Kindara tracker journal. But since the fertility app is focused on the fertility awareness method, I found it easier to understand and find these patterns if I invented my own way to cycle track.
So, I taught myself neuroscience and reproductive biology then I mapped nine different creative thinking styles to hormonal phases and I color coded each thinking style by a variant function, so that I could easily visualize my emergent creative process in real-time as I wrote daily detailed observations in a paper planner.
I used the principles of biomimicry, which is looking at patterns in nature to innovate or invent for all of my color codes. And what you see is how I metaphorically mapped the pattern of the four seasons and the light-dark cycle onto my hormones.
This method also kind of worked as an analogical timekeeper for my biological rhythms, and helped me really internalize the subtle shifts in energy I would experience about every two to three days.
After one full year of tracking this way it digitized all of my notes into an elegant habit track so that I could collect even more data. I could rate each day and produced helpful views for better predictions for each week and each month. Here are some of the insights from last years data.
One, receptivity sparks epiphany. The days in my cycle leading to a eureka moment were not only my most fertile, but they were days when I also the most receptive, the most playful, the most open and feeling the most fly.
I think this is really cool because mirror imaging studies clearly indicate that people are in an open and receptive state immediately before the a-ha moment. I never knew what I would generate during a-ha. I just was sure to have pen and paper or iPhone handy, so I could capture it. For example, one on day 16, I was procrastinating in a spa and a poem just spontaneously flowed through me. And it was like I latent talent that I didn’t even know I had.
Another cool thing I learned is that creativity is not a mystery and it’s not something that’s just for legendary artists like Price. My cycle data seemed to indicate that it’s a natural function of my hormones and my brain. So now I think that my cycle is like a creative process that is observable, predictable, reliable. I can practically use my cycle data to leverage my time, my energy and my talent in ways that actually help me be more productive.
See, a lot of productivity systems never really worked for me and I didn’t know why. And with this and looking at my own ovarian rhythms I realized it’s because I’m not the same every day, and I don’t fit perfectly into a circadian pattern. So, having this data has helped me perform and be my best.
The third thing I learned is that stress is the ultimate creative block. There were two times last year when I did not experience the predicted creative boost during my fertile phase. In both instances I experienced a massive stress event the cycle prior. And while I’m glad I recovered I learn that stress literally mutes my muse.
When I was expecting a creative boost, I felt nothing but a creative block, and it’s really funny, because there used to be a time in my life when I did not think I was very creative. But looking at my data now I think that the greatest takeaway is that my ovaries are my muse. Also, my fertility data has a lot of great things to say about being hormonal. And because creativity is no longer shrouded in mystery or myth, I feel I’m able to tape into my own personal genius every month.
So, it could very well be when a woman has sex on the brain, she might just be conceiving her very own magnum opus.
So this is how you can stay in touch with me. I am curious to know if this resonates with you if you also have eureka moments and the fertile times in your window. And I have been speaking with a small group of women here, the (ATTECT? 08:46) and seeing what we learn from sharing our patterns and I would invite anyone who is interested to join us as well.