The Key to Finding Inspiration – Inspiration Walks

The Key to Finding Inspiration – Inspiration Walks
Looking to find inspiration for the next great novel? For your musical masterpiece? For your next business idea? Often, the best way to find it is just to go for a walk: an ‘inspiration walk’!
What is an Inspiration Walk?
The idea behind an ‘inspiration walk’ is to leave the confines of the home or office to go for a stroll and, in doing so, to discover the inspiration you’re looking for.
So, why might this work? There are several reasons that inspiration often lies in the great outdoors. For starters, walking is a mindless activity that has been shown to activate the brain’s default mode network. The default mode network is a series of brain areas that kick into gear whenever we’re doing something that doesn’t require a lot of higher-order thinking (thinking with the prefrontal cortex).
This type of brain activity is implicated in daydreaming and often leads to the discovery of great ideas. In fact, it’s thought that Einstein was in this brain state when he discovered his world-changing Special Theory of Relativity. Effectively, walking lets our mind wander, and this is what often leads to the best ideas.
Another key aspect of going for a walk is that it takes us outside and lets us explore our environment. This works best when we walk in a natural setting, which has been shown to trigger creativity all on its own.
Essentially, when we’re relaxed, this also allows our mind to wander and explore different ideas and memories. In turn, this leads to new creative breakthroughs and insights. This is the opposite of when we’re in a stressed and focused state, which causes us to focus on just one thing at the expense of other, related ideas.
Being in scenic settings has been shown to trigger creativity because, to our primitive brains, a lush environment represents natural resources and safety. In the wild, coming across an area of lush green plants would have meant sources of food, water, and shelter. Thousands of years later, this still triggers a relaxation reflex in our brain to the extent that having plants around the office or even just painting a wall green can increase creative thinking.
Finally, going for walks gives us a change of scenery, gives us exercise and gets fresh air in our lungs; all things that result in a new perspective and a chance to break out of lazy or habitual thinking patterns.

The Forgotten Art of Hypnagogic Inspiration

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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