The Forgotten Art of Hypnagogic Inspiration

When looking for inspiration, there are countless different techniques you can use and a wide variety of different strategies that have been used by other creative individuals throughout history. One of the most exciting and unusual of these is largely forgotten and no longer widely used. Nevertheless, it was commonly employed by the likes of Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali, and it’s something you can try yourself right now, as long as you have a sofa and a spoon.

What is Hypnagogia?

The objective here is going to be to enter into a hypnagogic state. What is hypnagogia? It’s the moment where you’re just about to fall asleep, and your thoughts stop making sense.
Just as you’re on the brink of sleep, you will find yourself starting to think things like, “Why is the toaster so wet?’, and you will see images that are random and strange. At this point, you have lost control over your thoughts, and you’re, instead, aimlessly experiencing the different connections of ideas and thoughts in your mind.
Seeing as most psychologists now believe that creativity is actually the act of combining disparate ideas into new ones, this is thought to lead to some rather creative insights. It certainly provided some very surreal imagery for Dali’s paintings. Where else could you see lions jumping out of apples and people with drawers for their stomachs?

How to Induce Hypnagogia

The problem is that most of us fall asleep immediately after this stage and, then, don’t remember what we ‘saw’ there when we wake up. Thus, to use hypnagogia for inspiration, we must first learn how to induce it and keep the memories.
Edison, reportedly, would do this with a spoon and a plate. He’d lie on the sofa to go to sleep, holding a spoon just over the edge above a plate. The moment he fell asleep, he would drop the spoon resulting in a large crash which would wake him up. Then, as soon as he woke up and before the ideas disappeared, he would write down all the insights and ideas that he had encountered. There are a number of other methods you could use, but this one is very effective and simple.

This is how hypnagogia can be used to come up with new ideas, to experience surreal visions, and to explore your own mind. Give it a go, and you might just come up with something new to draw or write about!

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