Search This Blog

Sunday, April 30, 2006

How Does Intuition Work, Anyway?

Somehow, I can just approached doing something that I've never done before - a skill, a game - and somehow, I can do it - usually at a mid-range skill level, quite far beyond any familiarity that I might have to know what I'm doing. Now, some people would call that "talent," but after experiencing "beginner's luck" many, many times, I think it's "intuition."

The other example of intuition is that I can sometimes dream original music - usually far beyond my ability to play it. I have to learned to play it by spending alot of time. How is it that this music comes complete with verses of words, etc. ?

I imagine that self-preservation more commonly sparks "knowing without knowing" intuition - and the safety of people you care about.

Learning to recognize my own intuitive hunches that became established fact as opposed to erroneous fantasies came from having a number of accidental spills. It was only afterwards that I realized that I had already gotten foreknowledge of the event before it happened. Because the realization was always after the fact, it was uselessly confounding.

So my question came to be, "how can I recognize a "hunch" or "warning" BEFORE it happens and USE it to my advantage to avoid the accident?"

My answer was very ideosycratic, as I imagine many other people's answer would be. Asking the question and then watching what happened next time seemed to work best. It led me to describe the characteristics of the "intuition." With common observations of the qualities that makes an intuitive thought unique, you can recognize the "intuitive" thought as having a different quality than any other thought.

For example, my observation of the qualities of my own "warning hunches," I gradually observed what they had in common were these points:
  • Always for me the thought came to me in a full sentence. There was a voice talking very dispassionately, sort of like the old "mutual of Omaha" animal documentaries. The sentence always understates the possible damage to me, as if the situation were sort of mildly interesting.
  • There sometimes is a day-dreaming type of a film clip attached, depicting the moment before the possible calamity.
  • This "warning" thought doesn't come after a string of associative thoughts - it cwould come as a complete subject change, sort of "out of the blue." This as opposed to random paranoid thinking, which comes in a string of associative thoughts designed to get a rise out of my emotions as if I seem to want to make myself upset.
  • It's easy to miss - meaning, because there is no emotional "charge" to the passing intution, my brain just goes on thinking the next thought as if the warning or intuition never happened and I often have to stop myself, "Whoa, I just had a hunch which could be one that I'd better slow down and consider in depth a little more carefully."

Eventually I learned to volutarily open myself up to getting an intuitive "hunch" on purpose during hitch-hiking. I learned to purposefully turn on my intuition as I was running up to get into the vehicle. As I was approaching the vehicle, I'd open myself to get an impression whether the vehicle was "safe" for me or not. Then I'd look into the car and ask my rote question of where the driver was headed and just observe the driver's response.

Sometimes the intuitive thoughts I got when I was approaching the vehicle during hitch-hiking would not match the impression that I got from the driver - passengers, because once I saw who it was, I was convinced that that people were 'safe.' It turned out that in two of these situations, where I got a "hunch" that the vehicle was not "safe" and I had decided the driver was "safe," what something was wrong was the vehicle which resulted in a breakdown.

In another case, my intuition sent a warning, and during the ride a van door came open while going around a curve. Everything in the back where I was slid out onto the road. I would have
been out the door also, had I not been hanging on & talking to the driver, which I was there doing that because I had been given the "hunch." So now if I get that hunch during hitch-hiking I will forgo that ride!

Could other people describe what makes them take an "intuitive" thought seriously for more consideration? How does your intuition work? I'd love to read more about that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Magic Words

at the end of Terrace, BolinasToday I'm thinking about the "evoke experience" strategy that many people use. This is where someone notes a state of mind by using a phrase or a word the experience evokes. Then they seem to attempt to create a sort of internal filing system or anchor for the experience. When they would like to re-experience what they had experienced before, they say those "magic words" and the state comes back - sort of like a hypnotic suggestion that is designed to trigger this part of their brain to engage and give them the experience, or like a filing system. You might have to say the "incantation" or phrase in a certain sequence, coupled with a motion, etc.

In Alexander Technique, they have a word for this activity - "end-gaining." Meaning, going for new results with this "evoke" or other habitual strategy, rather than following the newer steps that will actually get you there. It's something to be avoided, mostly because it doesn't work so well when applied to new experiences and an unfamilar process.

I'm not making a value judgment on how this works or it's effectiveness with my next observation. I've just noticed that as people use this process and get some results, then they use it in places where it could be wildly useless and somehow they "believe it's working." It has the effect of a superstition. They say it can be quite a powerful example of "positive thinking" for them. I think the reason this works so well is there's actually a part of the brain that begins to do something as soon as you think of it - and this is why visualization works and why you can "practice" doing something by merely thinking about it.

I've also watched people do this by telling me what something is "not." Their idea that if they don't really say what it is they want, whatever it isn't will be allowed to happen on its own. Without their specifying exactly what it's not, they hold it up as a sort of superstition that if they specify it, it will be limited and thus not a surprising enough sort of experience for them.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Start a Fad

I've often wondered what is the secret ingredient that stirs people into action. How can some people inspire others to act on innane ideas, when some really well-thought out ideas often fail to find an audience, no matter the persistence of the idea's advocates?

Some of it has got to be personal presentation, which is obvious, such as being able and having the time to write one's idea in a simple way that can be easily understood. So that's part of why I've worked on my writing and speaking skills. Despite my efforts, I still seem to be lacking the secret ingredient or driving motivation to "sell" people who could benefit from what I have to offer by teaching Alexander Technique, for example. I have this idea that if people had a tool such as Alexander Technique, which has been so useful for me, they would benefit for a host
of reasons - most of which sound pretty damn fantastic unless you know something about AT firsthand.

I read an interesting book on fads and how they're created, called "the Tipping Point." It had an interesting point that some key people are "mavens" - people who become recognized by large groups of friends and aquaintances for the validity of their opinions in a certain areas related to their personal experience, their being self appointed authorities from painstaking research or other personal curiousities
these mavens have spent a great deal of time on. If you can get one of these mavens to talk you up, you have a fad in the making.

Seems it would be fascinating to figure a way to start a fad of Bohm Dialogue groups, actually. I'd settle for that. But like Alexander Technique, they're kind of frustrating as well as delightful.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Where Changing My Thinking Came From

Dialogue encourages the identification and even emulation of alternate ways of thinking and making new interpretations of meaning and raw experience.

I found the Sapir-Whorf theory when I was in college, and decided to base an independent study communication class on it. The reason I created the class is that I had a devil of a time understanding Benjamin Lee Whorf's book, "Language, Thought & Reality," where he tried to articulate the cultural conceptual differences between a number of North American indigenous languages in quick succession. I could read the words which were easy enough to understand, but I just did not compute what he was talking about. This fascinated me. I studied and studied, but I realized that I had to go elsewhere to find a new way to make sense of what Whorf was saying. I figured my inability to understand his writing was because of my pretty much complete cultural bias - although I was fluent in Spanish at the time.

So I went out on a sort of "quest" to learn how to get beyond my mono-cultural orientation. I realized that part of changing had to do with uncovering assumptions. So I sought out that activity - even demanded it. I stumbled onto Edward De Bono. I figured sooner or later I'd reach a critical mass where my own capacity to understand alternate ways of thinking would become more flexible. I made a point of learning to emulate other people's ways of thinking that were unique to their circumstances - even to the point of befriending "crackpots" that nobody else would put up with.

Meanwhile, I also studied with John Lilly, inter-species communicator, and got to attend a workshop by him and even got to hang out in his isolation tank for a few hours. I eventually stumbled onto "Don't Shoot the Dog," which is a book on the art of communicating non-verbally by the use of reinforcement in training, [animals] by Pryor. With enough practice at stretching my mind around ways of thinking that were unfamiliar and didn't involve the language I knew, I could finally abstract and explain to others the concepts in Whorf's book.

Instead of a term paper, I created this enormous time-line of all the ideas in a sort of an associative graph of the process I followed to document how I spent my time during this class.

What I learned from all that? I'll write more about that later...