Tag Archives: Prana

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

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Doubt, Negativity and the level of Prana

There are times when our minds become doubtful. All of a sudden, things look different. We start doubting people, situations, and intentions and finally start doubting ourselves (our capabilities, qualities, achievements etc). Sometimes this passes quickly, but at times it gets lodged firmly in the mind, difficult to shake off. When prolonged, this leads to psychosomatic disorders.

But where does all this doubt come from? It’s interesting to see that you were perfectly at peace with some situation till one fine day where you begin to ‘sense’ something wrong. A doubting mind soon develops negative tendencies and the negativity feeds on to doubt back. This could also lead to depression.

Typically we attribute ‘doubting’ to personality traits, thinking problems or even certain situations. But it’s interesting to see the point of view of Yoga. Yoga suggests that mind becomes doubtful when the Prana level goes down. Prana is what’s called the life force (or mental energy) which is alive in everyone. When your prana levels are low, that is when you feel down, disinterested in things, lethargic and develop a negative attitude in life.

So Yoga suggests that to keep doubts and negativity away, all you need to do is to keep your Prana levels high.

How do you do that? According to Yoga, there are four sources of energy: Food, Sleep, Breath and Meditation. Paying attention to them (if not all, at least one or two) will help you keep your energy.

Here is a brief overview of the four:

  • Food – According to Yoga, there are three types of food
    • Sattwik – Whole some food E.g Fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, cereals. They give lot of energy (greener the vegetable, more the prana)
    • Rajasik – This group causes lot of agitation in the mind. E.g Tea/Coffee, Spicy foods
    • Tamasik – That depletes energy and makes you dull and lethargic. E.g Alcohol, mushrooms, non vegetarian food, garlic, fried food, frozen food, refrigerated food etc.

If you are eating Tamasik food regularly, it can make you become very lethargic. Change your diet a bit and go for Satwik food. 

  •  Sleep : It’s important to have sufficient amount to quality uninterrupted sleep. If you have sleeping problems, sort it out. (See the post Tips for a good nights’ sleep )
  • Breath :  Look at your breath. Is it deep or shallow, is it long or short. A bad breathing pattern will fail to reenergize your body and mind as required. If you are badly down, completely devoid of energy, get on to some Pranayama practices. Things will turn around quickly. (Suryanamaskara is also a profound technique) Or try some aerobics. Paying attention to breath also brings some amount of present moment awarensss. 
  •  Meditation: A great source of energy. Needs some practice but can keep you really charged. There are several schools and techniques, choose what you find suitable for you.

Putting attention in these four sources for a few days, you will have a better prana level and even if you have been down for longh, you can see that in few days mind turns around.

H.H Sri Sri Ravishankar says in a talk – Doubt is always about positivity. When someone says “I love you”, you ask “really?”. But when someone says I hate you, you don’t question that. You don’t doubt your anger or depression, but you doubt all the positive qualities in you….

Also see Doubt and conditioning of the mind for the worse