Is there a challenge that you are dealing with right now, or a problem that you are trying to solve? If so, your natural inclination is probably to focus on the problem and try to work it out logically. This strategy can work to a point, but it can never generate big insights. Research shows that focusing on the problem more intensely doesn’t increase insights, it decreases them.
One reason for that is that we get locked into our specific way of thinking and keep recycling the same old solutions, tinkering with them around the edges. As a result, “the wrong answers are stopping the right answers from emerging.” Generating an insight involves forming completely new connections between pieces of previously unlinked information, and you cannot do that by “actively thinking” or drilling into details. Instead, taking a step back and taking an eagle’s view of the land can be very helpful in generating insights. So is taking your mind off the problem for while. That’s why taking a walk in the woods is a commonly used strategy for clearing the mind.
David Rock in his book Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long summarizes the strategies that can help us generate insights:
- It is astonishingly easy to get stuck on the same small set of solutions to a problem, called the impasse phenomenon. Resolving an impasse requires letting the brain idle, reducing activation of the wrong answers.
- Having insights involves hearing subtle signals and allowing loose connections to be made. This requires a quiet mind, with minimal electrical activity.
- Insights occur more frequently the more relaxed and happy you are.
- Insights are more likely to occur if you focus on the connections between information rather then drilling down into the problem; look at patterns and links from a high level rather then getting detailed.
The yoga practice below utilizes all the strategies above to help you stop the mental noise and let the insights emerge. It is an integrative practice; it includes multiple yogic elements (asana, pramayama, chanting and meditation). Using breath, movement, sound and imagery helps to quiet the mind, facilitate a more relaxed mental state, process metal chatter and see your old problem in a new light.
This practice has been added to Sequence Wiz home yoga practice app. You can find it under Mental-emotional state > Need clarity > 40-60 minutes. Learn more about the app >