Matt Wingett describes one technique for boosting creativity.
For thousands of years human beings have been putting themselves into altered states of consciousness in order to achieve insights, healing and knowledge. Even some of our most rational thinkers use trance, whether they know it or not. So, how do you get more creative? Matthew Wingett describes one way to arrive at the elusive creative state.
From the ancient Greek Oracle at Delphi, who went into trance before scribbling her prophecies on a leaf, through Anglo Saxon use of trance to have “wyrd” knowledge, to Native American initiation rites, altered states have been used all over the world throughout history to gain insight, healing, or to have greater personal power. They are still used today: you only have look at Indian Yogis, martial artists and modern elite athletes, to see altered states in action.
In fact, altered states are so common, that even thinking of them as altered begs the question:what do you mean by “normal”?
So, with all those different uses of altered states, is it possible to deliberately change your state to be more creative?
In J Grinder and R Bandler’s Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H Erickson MD Vol I, hypnotist Milton H Erickson describes working with the famous author of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, and dropping him into a very deep trance state.
Huxley found the state very similar to the one he experienced when deeply engaged in creativity. He became totally focussed on his internal world and oblivious to anything that went on around him “out there”. This was a state in which Huxley was extraordinarily creative, and Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H Erickson, MD, Vol I describes some of the many hypnotic procedures Erickson used with him, enabling him to perform the most marvellous imaginative exercises.
Often fleeting, difficult to describe, and sometimes based on a highly personal “ritual” or sequence of internal events that are purely subjective, such altered states seem elusive to many people brought up in the Western tradition of left- brain thinking. People like Huxley found a way to access them – but few in the West are taught how to access creative states.
Here is a procedure that may well work for you, which was devised by Win Wenger, author of The Einstein Factor (see reading list). It is called Image Streaming, and is a means of focussing your attention entirely on your internal, imaginative process, and kickstarting it into action.
I am going to give you a shortened version of Image Streaming – so experiment with it to see how it works for you. You can read the full version, and many other techniques to promote the elusive creative state in The Einstein Factor.
For this experiment you need to record what you say, so that you are free to let your mind wander, free of self-monitoring. And please note, this procedure assumes that you are aware of the way in which your mind creates internal images.
1) Close your eyes and get yourself into a relaxed state, while breathing smoothly and gently from the pit of your stomach. You may wish to lie down, and imagine yourself relaxing. Take several minutes to calm your thinking and your body.
2) As you lie there you will begin to notice visual elements in your field of vision. It might simply be the after-image of a light or dark object in the room. Or it might be that you imagine seeing an image, such as a face, or a remembrance of something in the day.
Allow whatever it is to enter into your field of vision. Be as relaxed as possible as you do this.
3) Start to describe what you see, out loud. Describe it in detail, cycling through the Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Olfactory and Gustatory elements, whenever each seems appropriate. This will reinforce the “reality” of what you see, and give your mind something to work with. For example, if you see the sea, describe how it moves, how it sounds, how it smells, how it feels, how it tastes, how it makes you feel… and so on.
4) The image will begin to change. Simply describe the changes as they happen, continuing to use the visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and gustatory predicates.
5) Allow this to go on for 15 or 20 minutes, or for as long as you are comfortable.
6) Listen back to the recording and listen out for any revelations or useful information.
There is no right or wrong answer to this procedure, it is a purely exploratory process which can throw up real surprises.
What I can say of it, is that I have devised entire short stories and invented characters completely spontaneously in this state – as well as solved problems that I had no idea previously how to solve.
It is just one way to get at the right brain – and for a short while to escape the domination of the left brain – and the state is very similar to that encountered in hypnosis. It can be a useful tool to free you from straight lines – and take you round corners you had no idea were there!
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