Monday, September 29, 2008

The Enemies Of Insight: Stress, Anxiety, Fear

The creative mind wields the power of creation via inspiration and imagination. But where does the revolutionary artistic or scientific insight come from? True insights arrive so unexpectedly and inexplicably, it’s no wonder we see them as otherworldly, divine.

But if we can’t control the arrival of the insight, we can at least pursue a mental state most hospitable for the incubation of insight.

In Jonah Lehrer’s New Yorker article, “The Eureka Hunt,” he explains that:

“Once the brain is sufficiently focused on the problem, the cortex needs to relax, to seek out the more remote association in the right hemisphere that will provide the insight…”

This relaxation state, characterized by low-level brain waves (3-8 Hz) is a prerequisite for insight (characterized by a quick burst of 40 Hz Gamma waves). It also helps explain why insights often come to us in the morning, in a warm shower, or on a walk, and why it’s nearly impossible to force a big idea in a state of stress, anxiety, or paralyzing fear.

A simple methodology of insight:

(i) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual's mind on the problem and explores the problem's dimensions)

(ii) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening)

(iii) intimation (the creative person gets a 'feeling' that a solution is on its way)

(iv) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness)

(v) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied)

No comments:

Post a Comment