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Can you train at “having good ideas”? Can you practice to improve your creative solution thinking? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been practising to sit still and “just listen” for about 3 to 4 times a day. No distractions, just the present. Sometimes I focus on my heartbeat, sometimes on my breath or on somebody else breath rhythm. Over the weeks it became easier to “tune in” and to stay tuned in too. I can hold it for a couple of seconds, sometimes minutes, but whatever the amount, it brings peace and leads to increased focus and brain capacity. It’s a mindful training routine and the result is “more & better solutions”.

Discover why & how it works:

The challenge

Imagine that somebody in a boardroom would say “that’s a really complex problem, let’s listen to our hearts for a moment”… Sounds crazy…! Well, if we follow the science of how the human brain works, this phrase might just become the next big hit. But, we need to take it very very literally: listening – to – the – heart. How do you do that? Go into a quiet space and try to listen to your heartbeat. Turn off phone, music, emails,… Can you hear it? Or can you feel it? I sometimes feel my heartbeat just behind my eyes and sometimes in my belly, or even in my feet… But try to hear it – focus so strongly that you make it happen. How fast is it? Do you hear a double or a single beat? How long can you keep your attention focused? How strong is your focus? Listen to your heart, just listen… so simple, but so difficult.

The science

This listening challenge requires a profound focus. In order for the conscious mind to zoom in on something so unpredictable, instant and soft as the heartbeat all the brains energy needs to be employed. The other regions in our brain need to be at complete rest: no energy for instincts (fight, flight or freeze stress), no energy for emotional routines (pain & gain comparisons) and no energy for group hierarchy estimations… just being in the now. Science shows that when we engage in observing the present moment we free up the brain energy to build new pathways (neural connections between 2 synapses) and that the more we practice that skill, the easier it becomes to build such pathways. Building new pathways is exactly what happens when we are “creative”, or otherwise when we need to solve an unsolvable problem. You’ve got all the elements and all of the sudden you “see” the bridge that connects them… That’s the sweet spot we are all looking for.

The essence

When facing a complexity we often crave to quickly find enlightenment or insight – we think logically about the challenge ahead, we ponder and we analyse… always remaining in the yet obvious parts of reality. As such we just continue running old routines and continuously “drive” over the old bridges that are already there. But the secret lies in slowing the brain down so that it has excess energy to get off of those old bridges and start building new ones. Ideas that were not there and all of the sudden come to the surface.  By training your brain to deeply focus on 1 unpredictable sensation in your body you train “building bridges”.
Finding optimal solutions is not only dependent on how much information you gather but also on how much time & space you grant your brain to organise all the information that is already there.

So take it literally & just listen to your heart…

Check it out: I’ve been using (a personal version of) the Wim Hof method.

Discover how you can benefit from knowing how your brain functions during a personal Brain Chat.