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Post No.: 0779imagination


Fluffystealthkitten says:


In Post No.: 0766, we said that the best way to generate new ideas if you’re struggling to find solutions to a problem or challenge is to first consciously feed your brain with information via ‘linear thinking’ techniques, then to use ‘intuitive thinking’ techniques to further work on them.


We had covered the former so in this post we’ll go over the intuitive thinking techniques, plus some other things you could try…


Meditation – relax with no distractions in a quiet, comfortable and pleasant place. Loosen all of your muscles. Feel warm and slumped, and aim for sensory deprivation. Have a passive attitude and empty your mind as best as you can. Do not dwell on any thoughts as they pass your consciousness (use a chant to prevent your mind from being able to think of anything but the chant if desired). If your mind wanders from the present then forgive yourself and bring it gently back to the present. Let go of all negative thoughts and go to your ‘happy place’. Think away from your problem or challenge and embrace a new pace for a moment.


Intuition – this is about paying attention to your feelings and knowing their accuracy. Sense when a feeling starts to exist or is existing, trust in your gut and try to perform rapidly on it (the only caveat is ensuring safety). See the big picture from the small picture, use your experience, and try to feel what the solution is or what numbers and design choices feel right. Practice this intuition by making pre-emptive guesses before fully analysing a situation. Know the crux of a problem then try to sense in advance the general solution for it. Link a problem in one field with one in a totally unrelated field. Focus on what may be rather than want is. You don’t need to consciously know how you came up with your answers. You must eventually incorporate reason and logic with your intuition but do this later.


Brainwriting – this involves relaxing and concentrating on your particular challenge for a few minutes, writing down some important questions about it, then waiting for the answers from your unconscious. At first, don’t judge or analyse them but just write them down until all of your questions have been answered.


Incubation – work intensely on your problem (so don’t just ‘think’ but talk, read and research about it too) for a day or several. Use your imagination to envision a world in which your problem is solved and the consequences of solving it. Then instruct your brain to find the answer and completely leave it alone and forget about it. Consciously return to the topic later (which could even be months down the line) and your unconscious ideas will hopefully have progressed for you.


Analogies and metaphors – make analogies and metaphors with nature or elsewhere. Draw connections between 2 dissimilar areas of experience (e.g. ‘fixing a car is like peeling oranges’) then break them down into what’s involved and think of ideas from them. Let your imagination run free. The stranger the two areas the better. Make the familiar strange! Ask metaphorical questions (e.g. ‘how is the problem like cleaning your fur?’) Make cascading links (e.g. ‘egg’ to ‘chicken’ to ‘feathers’ to ‘pillow’). Ask what videogame is this problem like?


There are four kinds of analogy you could try. The first are personal ones, where you imagine being the product or a part of it and ask ‘how would I feel if I were a…?’ What would it tell you if it could? The next are direct ones, which are possibly the most productive. Use your imagination to think of parallel comparisons with another area or parallel world (e.g. ‘this challenge is like religion’) then generate and examine each descriptor of the object or theme for solutions. Use a specific object, situation, event, field, world, discipline, theme or example. To compare, think of shape, colour, process, function, service, etc.. Then there are symbolic ones, which are all about visual representation so try not to think in any verbal terms (use a chant again if required). Make visual pictures of the challenge then write down what you see in them. And lastly there are fantasy ones, which use your free imagination with no reference to objective reality. Imagine the ideal solution in the best possible world with no bounds, like as if in a painting of a utopia in an art gallery. Obtain physical and psychological distance from your challenge and see what you come up with.


Ask ‘what if?’ – use your imagination to create fantasy worlds by asking ‘what if…?’ or ‘just suppose…?’ Then think of and visualise how things would be affected if this were true? What are the characteristics of this scenario and what solutions can relate to it in the real world? Suspend all judgement and ask yourself to come up with fresh, novel and offbeat ideas. Have the freedom of imagination to conceptualise anything.


Paradoxical thinking – think in terms of simultaneous contradictory opposites being both true at the same time, and make it work somehow. Sum the paradox into a book title. Find an analogy of the contradiction, perhaps in nature. Find its unique feature and the equivalent that could be made to solve the challenge in reality.


Creative dreaming – write and ask yourself the question presented by your challenge several times then, before drifting off to sleep, repeat it to yourself several times more. (This may take several nights in a row of doing this before any results.) The mind must consciously work on the idea first before the unconscious can be employed. If you remember a dream when you wake up, rerun it in your mind and then record it immediately. Then ask how does it relate to your problem? What associations and answers does it hold? Take one or two dream images and free-associate with them. What are the metaphors and hypotheses? The next night’s dream(s) may hold a pattern or further insight? Dreams weave together current experiences with ones from the past to create a unique narrative onto which you can hang your own personal interpretations and meanings.


Freehand doodling – write down your challenge, relax and reflect on it, then (maybe when using your other hand) draw as your mind wants to draw. Write down the first words that come to mind under each image, symbol, scribble, line or structure. Make them into a sentence, question it all verbally, and graphically ask how it relates to your problem or challenge with forced connections. Pay particular attention to the questions you make about them. The ideas do not arise ‘from’ the drawings but the drawings arise from your unconscious ideas i.e. your mind is trying to tell you something. You could also try using props to make a diorama or vignette, or magazine cut-outs to make a collage, of your problem to stimulate new views.


Hypnagogic and surrealistic imagery – think about your challenge, its processes, obstacles and alternatives, etc.. Then push it away and relax, empty your mind totally, and try to fall asleep. Quiet your eyes and have an absolute absence if any kind of voluntary attention. You cannot ‘look’ for these images that come just before you fall asleep. (To catch yourself before you fall asleep, hold a metal spoon loosely in your hands and this will drop and clang onto the floor as soon as you nod off.) Record these images immediately, which could be patterns, colours or forms, then look for possible associated links with your problem.


Guided imagery adventures – write out and ask your unconscious for an answer to your challenge in the form of a symbol or image. Relax and take a ‘guided imagery tour’, which is a story that evokes strong visually-described imagery with occurrences along the way that conspire to give you a solution if you ask of it to. Don’t censor anything. Just trust your messages and images for now. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and use your imagination to make the thoughts clear and fixed into your mind, then immediately record after you next open your eyes the images and words that came to mind. The scenes must use all of your senses in an imaginary setting and guide your imagination to actively search for images and answers to your problem. Look for qualities, patterns, relationships and clues with free association.


Psychosynthesis – relax from all tension, imagine you are walking into a favourite place, then picture your own spiritual mentor walking towards you. Ask of her/him/them to be your advisor or guide. Picture the scenario and scene as vividly as you can, using all of the senses. Strike a consulting dialogue as if real. Then wake up, think about the moment then record what you’ve been told. Your mentor is best someone who’s real and you respect and admire. You could even hold an imaginary conference with a group of spiritual advisors to help you.


Fresh visual inspiration – when looking at hieroglyphic transcripts, oriental characters or any other string of personally seemingly incomprehensible symbols or images, try to translate and interpret their meanings in the context of your problem or challenge. Concentrate on each image and free-associate the meanings with your imagination (e.g. ‘this looks like a moth, which reminds of a kaiju, which reminds me of a metropolis…’) Try combining symbols, reading them as a narrative or looking at focused parts of each symbol.


There are also a few miscellaneous techniques you could try. Meow…


Crazy ideas – generate in a crazy world as many outrageous ideas about the challenge as you can. Select one of them and list the attributes, features and aspects of that absurd idea. Select one of those features, extract the principle or essence behind it and build it into a practical solution. Ask about this crazy idea what is useful, interesting, missing and how it could be implemented?


Essences – this method requires responding to the essence of things (e.g. when asking for a new ‘can opener’ design, you should ask for ideas on ‘opening things’, which should encourage you to look at the whole world of ‘things opening’ without preconception and with a fresh, novel view of the problem). Look at both or all sides of the interface too (i.e. the opening tool and the can, or ‘sterile food container’ itself, in this example). So work from the abstract higher function or objective of a product or problem, then focus your viewpoint of the solution downstream from there. Always try to look from a different perspective.


Mood boards – identify the market by using pictures of what your intended consumers buy, do, where they live, what they drive, etc.. Add any pictures that provoke thought and inspiration.


Mental image-thought walks – take a walk somewhere, look around and make interesting metaphors connected to your problem or subject.


Random image relation – get, or photograph, unrelated images and analyse them to force connections with your problem. Or alternatively analyse interesting patterns in human-made objects or nature that provoke thought and imagination.


Talking to Martians – if Earthlings aren’t inspiring you, try imagining having to communicate your problem or challenge with Martians by using only abstract symbols. Look at what you’ve used and think about how these could help you solve your problem?


Magic wand – ask for 5 wishes that would solve your problem, then look for inspiration in the real world, perhaps in nature or industry, that could make it happen.


…Of course you can continue to interleave the linear thinking techniques with the intuitive thinking techniques if you’re still searching for the solution you want or need. The most important thing is to use these techniques and to put in the effort to think in novel, quirky and interesting ways!


Meow! By using the Twitter comment button below, you can share any other creative methods of coming up with ideas that you know of.


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