Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Fountains have long been a feature of human habitation, and are a central feature in gardens in many cultures. The sight and sound of flowing water is refreshing and inspiring. Water features are an important element in Feng Shui as a means of enhancing energy flow. Ever and yet never the same, water is a symbol of the Way of the Universe in Taoism.

We bathe in water, and drink it to sustain our life. Perhaps water calls to our oceanic origins, or simply resonates well with the senses and the body, itself being 60% water. With the brain being composed of 70% water, and the blood more than 80% water, it is no wonder that we speak of the water of life.

Flowing water both enhances and entrances us. The sound of water rings like chimes in the wind, and is perhaps nature’s finest music. We return to water to feel renewal in the quality of flow. We can also look for active ways to participate in the flow, particularly in enhancing the flow of ideas.

Thoughts in flow

Deepak Chopra, MD and author of books on spirituality and mind-body medicine, says that while scientists claim that we have around 65,000 thoughts a day, 98% of them are the same thoughts that we had yesterday. While repetitious thoughts may be necessary for repetitive tasks and routines, it also suggests that our thinking is almost completely caught in a closed loop.

Assuming that there is at least some room for improvement, and that for the sake of our well-being it is worth exploring new mental territory, what can we do to break the cycle of sameness and stimulate a fresh flow of ideas? A constant flow of ideas can help you tap into new fountains of thought, wisdom, and youth.

Here are a eight things you can do get your thoughts in flow. They are inexpensive and accessible, and will keep your thoughts flowing like water, rather than frozen in stone.

  1. Water. Engage with water every day. Bathe in it, drink it, and enjoy the sight and sound of its flow. While this may seem to be something that you already do, chances are you can do it with greater mindfulness and appreciation. Don’t dry out before your time.
  2. Music. We are blessed with greater access to music than ever before, higher fidelity recordings, and portability, and even opportunities to learn and produce music ourselves. Music can refresh and stimulate your brain. Don’t let it slip by unnoticed.
  3. Walking. To get your blood moving, exercise your whole body, give you a change in perspective, and wake up your brain, there is almost no finer way than walking. If your ideas are not flowing, trying getting off your seat and onto your feet.
  4. Writing. Put your thoughts into words on paper, where they can be read and shared with others. Whether you write at a keyboard or in a notebook is not as important as whether or not you write at all. Many people avoid writing because of negative associations picked up at school. However, it is still one of the best ways to get your thoughts moving and your head clear.
  5. Reading. Books are food for your brain, and can nourish it if you read selectively. It isn’t the number of books you read, or how fast you read them, but rather the degree to which you interact with them intelligently. Read thoughtfully, take notes, and vary your reading speed according to content and purpose.
  6. Questioning. Children ask hundreds of questions a day, adults ask few. Questions are fine food for thought and good conversation starters. Keep a written list of questions and don’t let it gather any dust.
  7. Sketching. Many children draw daily, while most adults do not draw at all. Sketching and doodling stimulate the brain, helping you to visualize and remember abstract things. Don’t worry if you lack artistic skill. Drawing icons and sketching stick figures can be even more effective at stimulating ideas than making detailed realistic drawings.
  8. Laughing. Not only is laughter the best medicine, it is the shortest path between ideas. Laughter is the body’s way of processing things which don’t easily fit in one part of the brain or another. When unlikely things suddenly come together in a surprising or entertaining way, that makes us laugh. This leads to sudden insights and fresh perspectives.

You can download a Mandala Chart here with self-coaching questions to help you get your THOUGHTS IN FLOW.

Why more ideas?

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that, “the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time.” The way this is done is not by holding them at all, but rather by juggling them in a balanced pattern that keeps the ideas in flow. Ideas move people and catalyze change. New ideas are not always welcome, particularly when change is perceived as a threat to the status quo. The only dangerous idea is the idea that all other ideas are dangerous.

If you want to change yourself, you need to change your thoughts. If you want to change others, you need to influence their thinking. If you want to change your environment, you need to find new ways of engaging with it. Change starts when your thoughts and ideas get into flow, and it comes about when that flow is powerful enough to get other things and people moving. Time for a change? Prime your mind for a constant flow of ideas.

Flexible Focus #19: Path to the Eureka moment

by William Reed on September 16, 2010

The Greek polymath Archimedes (c. 287-212 B.C.) was asked by the King of Syracuse to determine if his Crown was pure gold, or the goldsmith had tried to deceive him by mixing in other metals. How to measure it? Archimedes is said to have come up with the solution after immersing himself in the public bath, suddenly realizing that the volume of his body could be calculated by measuring the volume of the water that it had displaced. If the volume of the Crown could be calculated in the same way, the density of the gold in the Crown could be measured indirectly. Comparing the volume of water displaced by the crown to that displaced by the bar of pure gold would tell if the gold in the Crown was true.

This was no dry insight. It supposedly caused him to shout, “Eureka!” (I found it!) while running home naked through the streets of Athens. Even if the story has been embellished in myth, the man and his discovery were real. Equally real is the process of that discovery, known as the Eureka moment, the aha-moment, the breakthrough of unexpected discovery.

If taking a bath was all there was to it, then breakthrough insights would be as easy as stepping into the shower. It happened to Archimedes because of who he was, and because of his total engagement in solving the problem. With full engagement it is possible for anyone to experience how a small thing can trigger a big discovery.

Thomas A. Edison (1847–1931) is one of history’s greatest geniuses. His numerous inventions, including the electric lightbulb, the motion picture camera, and the electric power generator, have made the modern world possible. Edison is a perfect example of full engagement, famous for his quote that, genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Often interpreted as a vote for diligence and hard work, in fact it describes a prerequisite to the Eureka moment. The electric lightbulb, Edison’s most famous invention, is now a universal symbol of creativity and inspiration.

Using the Mandala for meditation

The Mandala Chart emerged, or at least was influenced by Buddhist philosophy. Any discussion of clarity would be incomplete without also mentioning meditation. In Japanese Zen Buddhism, the approaches to meditation which are most relevant here come from the Sōtō School, and the Rinzai School. At the risk of oversimplification, one of the primary differences between the two schools is in their respective approaches to meditation.

Sōtō Zen emphasizes the practice of just sitting (shinkantaza), which far from laziness, demands the utmost of vigilance to your posture, breathing, and existence in the present moment. Rinzai Zen also employs meditation in the seated posture, but emphasizes the practice of solving a series of paradoxical parables called kōan, questions unanswerable by logic such as, What is the sound of one hand clapping? This training is also quite rigorous, for you cannot solve kōan through verbal discourse or clever word play. Students are watched closely and expected to do the same, gaining satori or sudden insights and understanding in stages along the way.

In either school the path is rigorous. It demands a level of commitment and dedication that is difficult to maintain in modern life. In many countries there are places where you can experience or practice Sōtō or Rinzai Zen, and it can be an excellent way to deepen your understanding. However, for many people this may not be a preference or even an option. As an alternative, I would like to propose two accessible practices which achieve some of the same effects, and can also enhance your ability to use the Mandala Chart.

The first is walking, just walking if you will, walking with awareness and attention to your body and your environment. There is much more to this than meets the eye, but walking can help you gain clarity on a problem or decision. It helps to begin or end your walk with a good look in the Mandala mirror of your choice.

The second is writing, the extended pursuit of a subject on paper. This has some parallels with kōan meditation. Writing can be done before, after, and even during your walkabout. Simply take a writing break in a park or café along the way. Writing makes your thoughts visible, and helps you find your way to the Eureka moment.

It is best to do your writing by hand. You can always collect and organize your thoughts later on a computer. Handwriting is more personal, more portable, and more spontaneous than typing on a keyboard.

Walk and Write for Clarity

For full engagement, it is important to involve both your hands and feet. The combination of walking and writing does just that. Ideas light your way, and help you see the path at your feet and the way ahead. What can you gain from this process?

  1. Freedom from attachment. Your mind will become freer to see things from any level of focus or perspective, releasing you from the grip of a fixed point of view.
  2. Beginner’s mind flexibility. In a famous saying by Zen Teacher Suzuki Shunryu, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
  3. Insight and awareness. The combination of walking and writing develops insight and awareness at a deeper level.
  4. Centering and reset. As with meditation, walking and writing with the Mandala helps you get centered and find the core of the issue.
  5. Clear communication. The more clarity you have, the better your mind reflects. This clarity will also be reflected in how you communicate your ideas to others.
  6. Release of energy. Let go of the burden of unproductive thoughts and negative feelings, and you will have extra energy to focus on your ideas and insights, and how you can use them to help others.
  7. Eureka moment and humor. You need not run naked through the streets, but you will experience the joy of sudden discovery in the Eureka moment.
  8. Awaken to your mission. The progressive effect of experiencing such moments is greater clarity on why you are here, and what you need to do.

Download the CLARITY MANDALA to use as a worksheet to help you on the path to the Eureka moment. Then enjoy and experience the process.