Tag Archives: convergent thinking

Commitment and Detachment

When I began to write about the two qualities of the mind, I never thought it would drag so long. I thought it was all done and today morning appears this thought. Looked like I had to write it.

In the previous post I have described some techniques to fine tune the two qualities of the mind. These have a profound effect on the mind and ones thinking. But it is easy to overdo one and get in to an imbalanced state. Especially when one is experimenting. If the expanding aspect is dominant, one feels relaxed, energetic, will have a holistic view of  things;but will have difficulty is doing task that demands continuity (an office job for example). If the focusing aspect is dominant, one becomes obsessed with tasks and end up chasing time always. Over and above the practice, there is one’s natural inclination to thinking that plays a role here.

It is very important to balance these two for the mind to work perfectly. This can be done by introducing a compensating element that can restore the balance.These compensating elements are the two virtues : Commitment and Detachment which one needs to cultivate.

When the mind is in an expanded state, one needs commitment to focus on work at hand and the goal in life etc. Otherwise he can become a day dreamer unable to focus the attention anywhere. Committment is bringing the focus to a specific point. And if you observe closely, this is an aspect of the logical mind (this is where self talks helps).

When the mind is only focused, the thinking can become extremely narrow and rigid, and the person becomes feverish about things. There seems to be very less possibilities.Feverishness is what gets people in to most of the psychosomatic diseases like stress. This is where one needs to master the art of ‘letting go’. And, this is not something the logical mind will or can do.

To have fine balance in thinking, both the aspects – focussing and expanding – needs to be fine-tuned. At the same time, one needs to cultivate these virtues – Commitment and Detachment which will serve as the levers to maintain the balance.

And to have Commitment and Detachment at the same time is yet another contradiction…

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The secret of creative thinking

It’s now commonly believed that creativity has got to do with the right brain, and that the logical left brain is the biggest block to creative thinking. It’s very hard not believe this because of the physical structure of the brain. But is it true that we just need to be right brained to be creative?

Few months back, I happened to watch a video of a boy whose left brain was removed in early childhood. He was about 18 years and pretty much is a normal person. It seems his right hemisphere .had pretty much taken over the functions of the left which happens typically when one of the hemispheres is removed in early childhood.

At that point of time, I had almost believed in the right brain-left brain theory. Therefore it was with great expectation that I watched this video. I was hoping to hear that this boy is either very creative or very spiritual. Nothing. He was almost a plain normal boy. 

 I began to wonder if the right brain – left brain theory was a matter of convenience. Perhaps it was because we have moved from studying the mind to studying the brain (thanks to the new technologies), which itself could be limiting our thinking.

I have come to believe now that there is something ‘dynamic’ in the brain that is above the physical structure (may be the analogy of PC Hardware and operating system will help). This ‘movement’ determines how the brain works at a particular instance, and is responsible for what and how we think

There are two distinct qualities of our brain:

–          Focusing : this is the ability of the brain to go deep in an almost linear fashion. This is typically expressed as concentration. You can also imagine that this is like going deep and vertical.

–          Expanding : This is the ability of the brain to expand; which is typically expressed as  ‘attention’. This is like going outwards and horizontal.

Every brain has these two qualities. But unfortunately, they tend to interfere with each other. For e.g, you are trying to read something and after a while you tune off and is thinking about something non-relevant. This is the expanding ability interfering with the focusing ability. The other way is also true. But in their pure forms, both of them are extremely powerful

Developing control over these two qualities is the first step to creative thinking. That is also to make thinking a conscious activity. When this happens one will be able to concentrate on something for long time without being distracted and at the same time he will be able to think divergently without being limited by his memory and logic.

Both these qualities are necessary in creative thinking. But in addition, there is something that will synchronize the  two in a very dynamic way (looks like, physiologically  Focusing is the aspect of the left brain, Expanding the aspect of the right and Balancing the aspect of the front brain)

So you can visualize the creative thinking like this : You think outward till you spot(feel) something important or something you are looking for and then you zoom in on that (the closest analogy you can think of is that of an eagle circling on the sky looking for the prey and zooming on it once found.

Most of us are typically caught up in the ‘zooming’ function, which is linear. The second step in creative thinking is to shift the default thinking mode to ‘expanding’

I would like to assume that there must be something in the brain (mostly non physical) that coordinates the two qualities. At the moment I have no idea what this is. But my hunch is that this is what is what the yogis call prana