Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Crystallization - Part 4: On being the “Seed” of Change.

So we know what “Aha” moments feel like but is there a way to get them to happen more frequently or is it just something random? 

Grisaille Study in Oil
In the previous three posts I described how I arrived at a decision using a process called insight, which is distinctly different from linear or other non-distributed modes of thinking. Research conducted at Drexel and Northwestern Universities states that “although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, studies show that insight is the     culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales.”1 Mark Jung-Beeman, a cognitive neuroscientist, has devoted over 20 years of research into this type of thinking using fMRI and EEG technology and has discovered a specific series of changes in the brain that precede insights and that you can prepare yourself for them to happen more frequently.2 

What can you do to foster insight?
There isn’t a sure-fire way to cause “aha” moments but there are steps you can take to facilitate the process. Normally it takes some type of question and the bigger and more complex, the better. In my case, it was "what's next professionally/artistically--what is lacking in my life"? to start the process. The next requirement is to be open to possibilities, both internally and externally, and to consider ideas well outside your comfort zone. This will require you to also be aware of the subtle currents of your thoughts and emotions and how they manifest within the body as you feed in different stimuli, be it music, images or experiences. Consider the concept of Fear/Joy mentioned in an earlier post and the role it may play as well. 

Give it time and be optimistic. Don’t give up if it feels like it is taking too long. You may 
need to either take a break from trying to solve the problem or nudge the process along by make a smaller decision or trying something new. Take up a hobby you’ve been thinking
Bust - Grisaille Study
Lavender Studios Reference
about, take a class, join a social group, get out of the house, away from media. Walk in nature. Get active if you are not; you will be amazed at the difference in your thought processes before and after a good workout. Consider getting out and talking to someone that already does what you are thinking about doing. There is a body of research that suggests that you can’t solve tomorrow’s problems with the same thinking/emotions that you are feeling today. In Stumbling Upon Happiness, author Daniel Gilbert describes the imperfect process of how we make memories and if we base tomorrow’s actions on these memories and today’s events, we’ll end up with less than satisfying results later.

Journaling is a great way to track progress as well as how you feel about certain experiences. Whether paper or electronic, make sure to paste images and words into an organized fashion so that you can review them occasionally. I am not great at day-to-day journaling, but over the course of a year will have made enough notes in a variety of places that I can see what I was thinking or feeling over a given period of time. 

Plane Study for
Summer Waitress
And lastly, you can use the technique I described in the second post, meditation. It isn’t complicated and though it can be learned online or by reading a book, I’d strongly recommend taking a class as it can be difficult to start on your own. At its core, meditation simply involves sitting still long enough to become aware of your thoughts and feelings while viewing them in a non-judgmental way. It has been said that “the mind makes a wonderful servant but a terrible master” and by leveraging meditation you no longer are a slave to your mind and its random thoughts. This will leave you clearer and more present, allowing these insights to emerge more freely. 

Given all these factors, eventually, something/someone will trigger the change within you. The more you prepare and the harder the struggle, the greater the capacity for a single trigger to ignite the process. 

So in closing this series of posts I ask you: 
Plane Study for
The Carpenter
What pain are you feeling but are ignoring out of convenience or comfort that could be a sign of where you need to go next? 

Have you ever been the seed of change for a situation or someone in particular? Have you stopped the conversation in your own head long enough to hear what the other person was truly saying and asked a well-placed question that helps clarify their need or desire? Is there something you could have said or done to bring about change but didn’t out of fear or some other hesitation?

And since it takes preparation for this state change to occur, are you committed to keeping your mind open to the world of possibility around us, forcing skepticism and doubt far enough aside to give the small place within each of us time to settle and become still, so that when the time comes we are transformed by some random fleck of awe?

The Bishop - Sandan
Study of Methodology

Portraits from Life - Sandan
Since this is an artistic as well as philosophical post, I’ve included a number of recent studies completed to continue the development of my portraiture skills, though unrelated to the subject above. 

Article References

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