Organizations and entrepreneurs are looking for ways to encourage more innovative thinking. But, according to John Assaraf of The Secret and MyNeuroGym.com, thinking is the problem--the process of thinking actually "by definition cancels out the neural process of creativity," effectively killing innovation. Here he sheds light on the brain processing required for greater innovation as well as the secrets to encouraging and invoking innovation.
"Creativity, imagination and innovation are a part of a neural process that occurs in some of the newest evolutionary structures of the brain," he says. "Creativity is a whole-brain phenomenon that takes a totally different level of complexity."
Begin with the prefrontal cortex, which Assaraf calls the "Einstein Brain: the CEO; Executive Director; the GPS system--the part of the brain where you can think of all the possibilities and then activate the occipital part of the brain to imagine an outcome." This brain process allows us to disconnect the frontal lobe "thinking" portion and tap into our intuition and imagination, which "Einstein believed to be more powerful than knowledge."
Assaraf defines intuition as "what you know before you think." So what are the secrets to intuiting versus thinking?
1. Stop thinking and let it go.
When you are in the shower, sometimes you get a "spark of genius when your brain radio is open to accepting external frequencies." Getting into a free flowing, mind-wandering state allows the mind to go into a semiconscious daydream where you can access a field of information and patterns outside the regular neural network.
Only 40 to 50 brain waves are active at any given time and lists and busy lives keep the mind too crowded. Purposeful activation of the intuitive frequency requires "mindful stillness." Slowing down, sitting quietly, and being present help bring on a relaxed state to give your creativity a chance to rise above the noise.
2. Speed your way to innovation.
Comedians and musicians familiar with the concept of improvisation are capable of being in "a state of flow, turning off an over-thinking brain, and turning on the creative flow." For those who went to art school, gesture drawing is the equivalent, forcing the capture of just the essence of what's important. Any exercise that uses speed works to tap into what you know before you think, getting the "thinker out of the way." If you don't have time to think, you can't overdesign or overthink, and you can ignite the innovation process.
3. Practice the creative flow.
Innovative imagining is natural for kids. It is schooling that forces a young child to turn on the developing left prefrontal cortex and focus, disrupting the imagination process. Although not scientifically proved, it is believed that the majority of our creative neurons shut off by the age of 30, so "we have to work harder to disinhibit thinking brain and turn on the flow of intuition." Through meditative practices and other mind-stilling brain exercises, like MyNeuroGym's Innercise, brain retraining can occur, "forming new connections and growing new brain cells."
Trying to think innovative uses the state of the familiar within the brain and cannot possibly achieve creative, truly innovative solutions. Flow into intuiting your way to innovation instead.