"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


When you are feeling mentally blocked, stressed out and unable to generate ideas,'Visual Gym' is the way to go, according to Dilip Mukerjea, writing in his wonderful book,'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application'.

This technique stimulates the creative process by involving your subconscious mind in a dance of the senses. There are no rules that rigidly bind your imagination.

Start off by setting the scene for your mind to attain a state of total relaxation. This could be established through a comfortable seating, loose clothing, soft music, an infusion of aromatherapy essences, dimmed lighting and other elements that contribute to a state of well being.

Set off by thinking positive thoughts; it will help you enter a state of relaxed alertness. Negative thoughts work just a powerfully, but against us. We must thus be careful not to let them dominate.

Major inventions and discoveries have emerged from the infinite mindscapes of the subconscious.

The technique is entirely playful (but formidable), and can be used whenever you feel stress building up inside you. The setting could be at the office, at home, in a public area, or when you are alone; it does not matter. What is essential is that you give yourself permission to vent your imagination and create scenes that delight you.

The following passage has been created as I think. In other words, it is spontaneous.

"Get comfortable, slow down your breathing till it is even and deep, then gradually allow yourself to drift into a state of easy dreaming. Let your body release its tension by consciously permitting your muscles to relax.

Without any strain, let your mind open itself to seeing a bonfire. The flames are dancing rhythmically, attracting your gaze, and its warmth enfolds you.

As soon as you are able to picture this scene with total clarity, change the colour of the flames from orange to light blue. This is happening very gradually.

Once the bonfire has changed colour totally, watch it slither to the ground. It now looks cold, and liquid, but not wet. It is moving towards you. The bonfire has metamorphosed into a creamy blue pool; an unknown organism.

As you watch it approach, you smell the scent of lemon emerging from it. The organism slowly rises, and takes on a shape like a silken handkerchief drifting in a breeze.

It had reached you. You touch it and sense absolute peace. Your body feels a pulsing current just as you see the organism vanish into a mist of rainbow hues.

The mist enters your eyes, travels along the nerves to your brain. It floods your brain with light and warmth. You sense yourself, for the very first time, feeling so alive!"

Allow yourself to keep making variations, and use all your senses. Do not feel reticent about being outrageous. Give yourself space and time to view and feel your dance of your senses.

This is an example of a creative experience. The more you create, the easier it is to create more. Never worry about how relevant or irrelevant your thoughts are. There is a relevance to all things in life and we only need to discover the connections.

Numerous inventors, writers, poets, teachers, managers and gourmets of creative cuisine have commonly used this sensation of "wandering off". Children use it all the time. As I said before, it is essential for adults to be childlike when seeing creative solutions. Strangely enough, many adults behave childishly, and there are children who, though childlike, are extremely mature.

Children tend to view issues very differently from adults and should be encouraged to express themselves openly when offered such exercises. The corporate community would have its collective intelligence significantly enhanced if they called on children to contribute their ideas.

[Excerpted from the book, 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

Actually, my first personal encounter with the operational mechanics of 'Visual Gym' was while attending a meditation retreat during the mid-eighties or so. It was then called 'creative visualisation', based on the work of then popular New Age teacher, a pioneer in the field of personal growth, Shakti Gawain.

In contrast, physicist Albert Einstein & inventor Nikola Tesla often conducted what are now known as "thought experiments", which are essentially 'Visual Gym' practices.

In the case of Albert Einstein, his "thought experiments" through which he had visualised himself riding on a beam of light, eventually gave him the necessary cues to formulate the award-winning scientific equation for relativity.

As mentioned in the 'Brain Symphony' book, Nikola Tesla claimed to have mentally (virtually) tested all his devices. He could test run them for weeks following which he would "inspect" them for signs of wear. By this means, he could pinpoint areas trhat were working well and those where problems existed.

In the world of competitive sports & golf championships, sportsmen play a variation of 'Visual Gym', known as 'mental rehearsal', which allows them to excel in the real world, by first visualising a perfect performance sequence in their imagined world.

'Mental rehearsal' was reportedly first used by national sportsmen from East Germany & Russia during the Cold War.

Today, our Singapore Sports Council (SSC) has engaged full-time sports psychologists to coach our many national sportsmen along the same lines.

[During the early nineties, I had met Dr Peter Usher from Canada, who was engaged by SSC to establish the popular 'mental rehearsal' practice for our national sportsmen.

I recall vividly one particular case, in which a Taekwan-do sportsman (Joe Ng) was recalled to represent Singapore in the SEAP Games. He was out of action for two years, & officials were initially quite skeptical of his chances. With only six months' training under Dr Peter Usher, he went to secure a Gold Medal for Singapore.

Among Dr Usher's first few local coaches under his wing, was Dr Edgar Tham, whom I had also first met when he was just a young SuperTeen graduate.

Today, Dr Edgar Tham runs his own consultancy outfit, SportPsych Consulting. I have read that he has even gone to the schools to share the 'mental rehearsal' techniques with students on how to use them to relieve exam stress.]

Operationally, as I see it, 'Visual Gym' is also akin to the powerful 'image streaming' technique originally conceived by Dr Win Wenger, who wrote the classic, 'How to Increase Your Intelligence'.

Incidentally, he is also the man behind the 'underwater brainstorming' technique, as regularly practised by Japanese inventor extraordinaire, Dr Yoshiro Nakamatsu, or more popularly known as Dr Nakamats.

Interestingly, creativity consultants William Gordon & George Prince, who pioneered the Synectics creative problem solving process in the sixties, coined 'mental excursion' to denote a similar process in their proprietary methodology.

In the corporate world, where today's strategic planners practise 'scenario planning', a forward planning & foresight building methodology, originally made popular by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group during the oil crises of the mid-seventies, which draws on man's innate ability to craft "memories of the future".

From a personal perspective, at least in formulating strategy & initiating actions to produce results, I reckon "memories of the future" constitute 'Visual Gym' at its best. But in a corporate setting, where the focus is inherently geared towards more conscious, logical processing to suit a conventionally left-brain oriented world, I believe the execution may probably require a more subtle & discerning approach.

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