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Don’t Just Meditate – Thinkitate

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What is Thinkitation? Simply put it’s using the afterglow of meditation to solve the toughest challenges in your life.
Some problems that we face seem to resist solutions. The answers just don’t immediately come – that is unless you sleep on it. That concept has been talked about a lot, and I find that sleeping on a problem is often all it takes to find a solution. But I’m a little more impatient than that and I wanted to find a way to tap into the power of the subconscious (or whatever voodoo is going on while you sleep) in order to solve problems in the here and now. What I’ve been experimenting with, to good effect, is thinkitation post meditation.

Here’s What I Do

I meditate using what I call “Just Breathe” meditation. I sit cross-legged in a ridiculously comfortable chair (usually with my Pomeranian, Wookiee, sleeping on my lap). I do a slightly modified version of Mark Divine’s box breathing, and I repeat the words “just breathe.” If I find that my mind is wandering, which it does with distressing frequency, I keep doing that until I’m fully relaxed and my mind feels at ease, anxiety free, and super clear (or my legs fall asleep, whichever comes first. #Truth).
Once I’m done meditating, I switch immediately to thinkitating. I recline the chair and lay back. Breaking posture helps my brain change to a new task – in this case going from not thinking to problem solving. I will have picked a problem to solve prior to meditation that way I don’t lose my meditation “buzz” trying to think of the thing to think about. I continue my modified box breathing and let my mind wander in pursuit of an answer to my problem. It is a very weird feeling, because my conscious mind isn’t super active. I become an an observer as my mind heads down rabbit holes following unpredictable paths until voila, it hits upon an idea or combination of ideas that had previously eluded me.
To be clear, I don’t always strike gold. Sometimes it’s an utterly fruitless endeavor, but more often than not my best ideas come from this time. I keep my computer next to me because once my mind hits on something awesome I start taking notes. Lots and lots of notes.

Here’s Why It Works

Meditation puts your brain into an alpha wave state (click here to read a primer on meditation). An alpha wave state is considered to be the brain’s optimal state for creativity – you feel relaxed, but full of energy. In this state, your brain feels flexible and clear, and not stuck in obsessive loops. My subjective experience is that in an alpha state the brain is primed to make unique and far-reaching connections between novel ideas in the brain. And it’s this heightened connectivity that gives Thinkitation its juice.
I had the chance to discuss my concept of Thinkitation with famed neuroscientist VS Ramachandran when he was a guest on Impact Theory! He was intrigued, because research points to the fact that developing one’s creativity may deliver a host of cognitive benefits. I don’t want to get bogged down in the neuroscience here, but he mused that the reason accessing and developing creativity may be beneficial for problem solving is because it connects otherwise disparate areas of the brain to often stunning and surprising results – number/color synesthesia anyone? (Google it if you have no idea what I’m talking about).

No Silver Bullets

Hear me when I say, I don’t believe in silver bullets, and thinkitating is no exception. Thinkitating asks your brain to make unique connections between ideas, but it’s still up to you to stuff your brain full of ideas worth connecting. And that means reading, studying, and doing the deep work required to develop an arsenal of ideas that will interact with each other when you’re in the right state of mind. Fail to do the work, however, and there will be nothing there when you need it. Also, don’t give up if it doesn’t work at first. Like anything, when you first start, you’ll probably be bad at it. That’s ok, just keep putting in the reps. Eventually the magic will happen.
Hit me up on social and let me know how your thinkation session went. Be sure to check out the #YearofTransformation giveaway.

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