Deep Thinking - A Technique to Try
By Steve Gillman
There is a deep thinking technique used by Albert Einstein,
one which he referred to as "thought experiments."
Although he didn't invent the technique, he made it more widely
known. It is the practice of relaxing and setting a visualization
in motion while watching it closely to see what is discovered,
or what ideas might be suggested.
Einstein imagined himself riding a beam of light in this way,
and his Theory of Relativity is partly a result of this. The
inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, had a dream about
cannibals attacking, and their spears had holes in them - the
inspiration for the design of the needles. History has many other
examples of visual imagery leading to deep thoughts and innovations.
The following explains why it works and how to use this simple
Deep Thinking Through Mental Movies
With this kind of deep thinking you tap into the creative
power of you unconscious mind consciously. I was once having
trouble selling a particular ebook I had written, for example,
so I imagined giving it away, actually picturing myself handing
the book to a man, although it is an ebook so there is no physical
item. The man looked it over, and then he asked me, "when
can I have more?" At that point in my exercise in imagination
I noticed that I had only given him a chapter of the book.
I answered, "next week," and this became the basic
idea for what I actually did. I began to give the ebook away
a chapter at a time by email, all set up on an autoresponder
to make it easy. Some readers who really liked the book got impatient
and they chose to buy the complete book rather than wait months
to read it all. This boosted sales surprisingly, but I also hosted
the free chapters on web pages where I made money on advertising
Notice that the imagery took on a life of its own once I started
it. I didn't have a predetermined a solution beforehand, or guide
the imagined scene towards one consciously. This was an example
of my unconscious mind doing its own deep thinking, and delivering
images to me that suggested good ideas I could use.
Many creative thinking techniques like this are used to find
solutions to business or product problems, but "thought
experiments" are great for philosophical issues and other
"deep" questions, especially when you imagine conversations
with wise people - whether they are real or not. Although the
conversation is your creation, the imagined figures will often
come up with ideas you wouldn't have normally thought of without
this method. Perhaps this is what is going on when people claim
to be "channeling" individuals who lived in past times.
To try this, start with an imagined scene that is relevant
to whatever you are working on. Then let that mental movie roll
forward on its own. If, for example, you were trying to understand
a moral issue, you might start with a person facing a morally
tough choice and watch the scene to see how it turns out and
what might be learned. If the goal is to boost sales at your
restaurant, imagine a customer walking in to see what they like
or dislike about the place.
By the way, this deep thinking technique can cause you to
drift off to sleep, especially if you do it with eyes closed.
It is said that Einstein held a rock in each hand, which would
fall if he nodded off, waking him up and bringing his attention
back to the mental images that he was following.