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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 19:35
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 7 - Imagination & Related Abilities
Network 3 & Mirror Neurons
Perception From the Bottom Up
What Happens if Things Go Wrong
The Mind's Inner Model
NHA Guide to Methods & Technology
The Most Important Bits to Remember
Hacks & Exercices
Notes, References & Answers
All Pages

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

HACKS -for network 3


  • Hack sensorimotor input (and watch imagination 'get it wrong')

This is a very old trick known as the ‘Aristotle illusion’. You need a small spherical solid thing, the size of a dried pea, rabbit turd, piece of blu-tak or plasticene etc. Cross your fingers, then align the object so you can touch it with the tips of both fingers, close your eyes, and touch it.

It feels like you are touching two peas. Your mind can’t imagine why the hell you would go around touching things with your fingers crossed, and it doesn’t compute. If you look at the object while touching the effect will wear off (but can be surpisingly persistent).

 

[NEEDS ASSISTANT] Now get two different objects of this kind. Cross your fingers, close your eyes and then touch the two different objects simultaneously - a piece of Blu Tack and a dried pea, say - one with each fingertip. [You will need assistant to guide your fingers onto the objects] This is a variation of the same hack. It’s not so reliable, but if it works your sense of touch will tell you that the objects are the opposite way round from where they actually are.

 

There's also the reverse Aristotle illusion: cross your fingers, close your eyes and touch the inside of a corner of a room or a box. This time, because the wall is contacting the insides of your fingertips, you should feel one surface, not two. Some people even experience three.

A similar effect can be achieved by holding your hands in front of you with palms down. Close your eyes and get somebody to lightly tap the back of both hands once, one after the other, with as short an interval as possible between the taps. Open your eyes and wave the hand that was tapped first. You'll get it right every time. Now do it again with crossed arms. If the taps are sufficiently close together - less than 300 milliseconds or so - you'll get it wrong a lot of the time.

Surprisingly, the illusion can also be made to work with sticks. Hold two wooden spoons out in front of you, one in each hand, with arms uncrossed, and get somebody to tap the ends of the spoons in quick succession. Again, you automatically know which stick was tapped first. But cross the spoons (not your arms) over and you'll get it wrong. Even more weirdly, if you cross your arms and the spoons, the two crossings-over cancel each other out and it again becomes obvious which one was tapped first


  • Reveal the influence of eidetic association on cognition

[needs assistant/s –great fun at parties!]

Get hold of two cardboard boxes of different sizes and put a brick in each one. Check they weigh the same, then seal them. Get somebody to lift them and guess which is the heavier. The vast majority of people will say that the smaller box is heavier, even though it isn't, and will continue to maintain that it is even after looking inside both boxes and lifting them several times.

This "perceptual size-weight illusion" is very robust. So much so that it works even if the smaller box is slightly lighter. Even labelling two identical boxes "heavy" and "light" can pull the same trick. Experiments show that even though people initially use greater force to lift the larger box than the smaller one, on subsequent lifts they unconsciously equalise the amount of force they use to lift them. Despite networks 1 & 2 apparently "knowing" that the boxes weigh the same, N3’s association still perceives the smaller box as being heavier.

If you do this a lot, N3 will suss you out eventually and over-conpensate in the opposite direction (the effect will reverse, and the larger box will now seem heavier.

 

Using your imagination to speed up learning

Imagine how you would currently answer the question from a new student “Hey dude, what is neurohacking?” It’s not an easy question to answer clearly and simply, is it? Where would you start?

Now spend a couple of moments considering how would you answer a student who asked the questions below:

  • So, what’s the best cure for anxiety?

  • How does memory work?

  • I don’t understand this ‘stretch-relax’ thing, can you explain it to me?

  • What do neurotransmitters do in the brain?

Whatever answers you come up with, you’ll notice that (even if you’ve read the tutorials lots and really know your subject) these questions are not ever easy to answer in a simple way. It’s a good habit to make up questions like this for yourself. Imagine teaching the subject you are learning about. Think about what your students would need to know first in order to understand later ideas. Whenever you are learning, imagine how you will use what you are learning. There is so much information (especially if you’re following up theory in the files), but only a small part of it is the "important practical NH stuff" that you need to actually use. By imagining how you'll use any new information, you’ll tend to automatically focus on the things you really need to know. This also aids in retention of the new information, as you understand how it is relevant to the hacks and exercises we do. Association rules OK.


PLAY with perception

These hacks are fun for some, but can scare some people. They are not essential, but they are here to give you a conscious real life experience of the nature of rear net processing. If you don’t feel comfortable about doing them and prepared for a bit of a surprise, miss it out. It's not wise to do these on drugs the first time unless you are adept.

  • Experience the gap in input between ‘stills’ forming in N1 & 2

To build up a big picture, your eyes constantly dart about, fixating for a fraction of a second and then moving on. These jerky movements between fixations are called saccades, and we make about three per second, each lasting between 20 and 200 microseconds.

The curious thing about saccades is that while they are happening we are effectively blind. The brain doesn't bother to process information picked up during a saccade because the eyes move too rapidly to capture anything useful.

Despite the fact that you don't normally notice saccades, you can catch them in action.

Look at your eyes close-up in the mirror and flick your focus back and forth from one pupil to another. However hard you try you cannot see your eyes move - even though somebody watching you can. That's because the motion is a saccade, and your brain isn't paying attention. Now pick two spots in opposite corners of your visual field and flick your gaze from one to the other and back again. If you're lucky you'll notice, just barely, a brief flash of darkness. This is your visual cortex clocking off.

Normally, continuity of experience relies on imagination as your memories retain information from previous fixations and integrate them into your here-and-now visual experience.

  • You can also do ‘freeze frame’ by very suddenly looking at a clock with a second hand, and noticing that it seems to take a second or so to get ‘up to speed’.

If your eyes happen to alight on the clock just after the second hand has moved, your brain assumes that the hand was in that location for the duration of ‘previous frame’ too. The "second" then lasts about 10 per cent longer than normal, which is enough for you to notice.

 

  • Hack proprioception association [NEEDS AN ASSISTANT]

Hold your arms out in front of you and cross them over, rotate your hands so your palms face each other, then mesh your fingers together. Now slowly rotate your hands up between your arms so you're staring at your knuckles. Ask someone to point to one of your index fingers, then attempt to move it. Did you move the wrong one?

Congruous proprioception association fails because of a confusing visual input. You don't normally see your hands in this convoluted position and your mind certainly doesn't expect them to be there; the finger you move is the one that is pointing in the direction that the correct one would be pointing if you had simply clasped your hands.

 

[NEEDS ASSISTANT] If you want to go all the way in confusing proprioception, repeat the research above: get hold of a model hand (it doesn't have to be very realistic) and put it on the table in front of you. If it is a left hand, put your actual left hand somewhere you can't see it, in the same pose as the rubber hand. Now get someone to touch and stroke your unseen hand and the rubber hand with identical movements. If you concentrate on the rubber hand, you will probably get the uncanny feeling that it is your own. If you get an assistant to unexpectedly punch the fake arm after you have played with it for a while, you will jump in expectancy of pain.

Imagination will happily override information from proprioception to conjure up an incorrect yet coherent body schema based on vision and touch.

 

  • Adepts only: If you do this on hallucinogens or even cannabis, you can go much further than the 'fake arm' researchers and convince yourself that pretty much anything is part of your body. Sit at a table and put your hand out of sight underneath. Get someone to tap and stroke this hand while doing exactly the same to the table top directly above. If you watch the table top, you may experience the illusion that the table has become part of your body. Warning: some experiments may cause bouts of giggling.

  •  

  • Input control hacks using imagination

     

    Because image based formats are understood and used by all networks, your imagination affects both conscious and unconscious processing and you can always use imagination to your advantage in NH. Carpet-bomb yourself with inspiration, real facts and artefacts that inspire you, and images of information you want to learn.

    Even simple moves like leaving a study diagram on your desktop will allow it to creep into your unconscious every time you boot up without you having to consciously learn anything. Keep your favorite inspiring quotes or stuff you need to remind yourself of on your desktop or wall.

    Remember when you speak aloud or even read silently your unconscious mind listens to you and turns those words into imagery. Always strive for clarity and honesty because you’re talking to your own unconscious mind every time you talk to others. The clearer and less anxious you can be with others, the clearer and less anxious you will be yourself.

    Don't allow crap into your imagination. If you find yourself watching, listening to or reading anything and you think it’s a lot of BS, stop paying attention to it.

    Put down the book, change the subject, turn off the video. Find something that will benefit you; you don’t want crap in your mind. Don’t get all caught up in analyzing why it’s crap, just flush it away. That’s what crap is for; flushing away.

     

    Researchers [Berman et al 2009] have explored the cognitive benefits of interacting with nature and found that walking in a park in any season can help improve memory and attention.
    Memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature, but showed no improvements after an hour walking down city streets.

     

    Getting into different surroundings for real can also encourage your imagination and creativity. Get as much experience in the real (natural) world, and read as much about it and watch as many nature documentaries as you possibly can. the real world is much more complex and wonderful than anything else, and it has the advantage of being real. It's often those artists who've spent the most time studying reality that produce the most imaginative works. The more ideas you cram into your head from reality - the more you understand how it actually works - the more fascinating things you will be able to imagine and create.

     

    We're not asking you to go outside all the time -the researchers also had subjects sit inside and look at pictures of either downtown scenes or nature scenes and again the results were the same: when looking at images of nature, memory and attention scores improved by about 20 percent, but not when viewing the urban pictures.

    Start a folder on your desktop for your favourite nature scenes. Take a mental holiday there while you eat lunch, or whenever you feel like it. Add to the pictures regularly and remove those you get bored with.

    A common mistake working with imagination is to expect to have to 'think about' these images in some creative way; in fact all you need to do is stare at them blankly for them to have an effect. That's what input control is all about; unconscious influence.

     

    The company you keep

    Imagination has a big processing job. To help it, avoid confusing examples of stupid behavior and false archetypes, both in movies and in real life. There is no benefit to organic life in being a suicidal melodramatic celebrity in rehab. Ignore the actors; the real examples we need are the story characters themselves; a much healthier example of how to get into the right states of mind and perform the right behaviors to survive and thrive against the odds in real life.

    Hang out with creative, imaginative people. Look for people who are fun to talk to and have a keen sense of interest in life. You will become more like everything you surround yourself with.

    Some of the best imaginative company is healthy children. A healthy child's world is filled with imagination, and yours can be too, if you make the effort to interact with them. We don't mean fantasy, although they're pretty good at that too. Children are little scientists, discoverers and inventors, and they still know how to merge wok with play, which is the best road to creative imagination, strong interaction and powerful problem solving.

    Try the 'clouds' association game with children or friends. You all look at cloud shapes or inkblots together and answer the questions: "What does that look like to you?" and "What does that make you think of?".

  • Input control: Modeling for augmentation: This is a very good hack -the 'behave as though' method  :  ) The more you do it the easier it is because you start to understand how it works once you've had the experience. You need a good imagination to pull it off well, and if there's too much up front, that can get in the way; we start analyzing everything to death and lose the 'magic'.

    Get your favorite movies out and use them as tools to develop yourself. Simply watching people behave in non-anxious ways (in movies etc) and associating with that through soundtracks etc., helps convince the mind that you are surrounded by sensible people and adjust itself to 'match up' its thoughts & behavior accordingly. If you experience thinking the thoughts of heroes, you will be thinking like a hero and feeling the heroes' emotions. Once your brain has the experience of doing that, it can learn to do it by itself. All we need is good examples.

    Input control is about putting on a show of how you would like things to be (how things should be) so that the brain can observe and then copy it. You are fully aware that you're doing it on purpose because you know how epigenetics works, which is why it's a hack and not an accident. Unlike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz[25], you can pay as much attention to the man behind the curtain as you like, because knowing how the system works actually helps if you're going to take over and start using it yourself, right?  :  ) Props for input are like movie props -they 'create an atmosphere' that puts you in the right mood for the right neurochemical balance.


    Use this activity to replace habits of wrong input such as watching crap TV.

 

Input control: using imagination to augment epigenetics

 

Modeling & epigenetics (empathic kinesthesia)

When watching an exciting dance performance or sport match we respond to what we are seeing with tiny muscular movements in sympathy with the movements of the players. This phenomena is called the 'kinaesthetic response' and will give us an empathy with the performers' emotions which is the shared pleasure of dance, action movie, music and sports fans.

Allow this kinaesthetic response full reign next time you are a spectator at some exposition of healthy movement. Allow youself to identify with a player you like and flow along with it. Be right THERE with every balance, swivel, collision; with every leap, fall, kick and glance.

After the event find some time in which you. can spend ten minutes alone. Close your eyes and relive the experience. Try to FEEL the main actions as vividly as possible. Allow your body the freedom to identify with the movements that have been seen and to reproduce them in miniature. Aim to gradually increase the possibility of transfering yourself into the body of a performer... this means imaging all the movements as if you were actually doing them.

Perhaps you will experience only general vague impressions at first but, if you persist, then the details will come with practice. This is your first step into the power of imagination to create reality through epigenetics -your body will signal your genome to initiate adaptive changes to make you more like that performer IN REAL LIFE. This results in improvements not just in sensorimotor areas such as balance, coordination and response time, but also in ways of thinking and doing; in other words you can learn anything this way (and this is what natural learning is all about).

Imagination effectively and efficiently communicates on an unconscious as well as conscious level (all brain networks can interpret an imagery based format). This means it will effectively signal the genome in the same manner as real life input.

The more powerfully and vividly you are able to imagine doing something, the more your body will respond as though you were actually doing it. (If you don't believe this, try thinking horny thoughts and see what your body does.)

 

Imagine Increased Muscle Strength -Experiment

A muscle can be strengthened just by thinking about exercising it.

For 12 weeks (five minutes a day, five days per week) volunteers imagined either using the muscle of their little finger or of their elbow flexor. think as strongly as they could about moving the muscle being tested, to make the imaginary movement as real as they could.

– the little-finger group increased their pinky muscle strength by 35%. The other group increased elbow strength by 13.4%.

What's more, brain scans taken after the study showed denser and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than before. The researchers said strength gains were due to improvements in the brain's ability to signal muscle.

We are programmed to copy whatever we are surrounded by and adapt to fit in. This is what is meant by the organism adapting to its environment, and you are practising directed evolution.

This is why you should not surround yourself with any crap, and why you should take every opportunity to observe and emulate anyone performing any skill that you require.

If you use nootropics, supplements, exercise, meditation, chemicals or other methods, try these exercises both with and without your usual input control.

 

Imagination and immunity hacking

When you get to this stage you should be able to use your imagination itself as input control via the 'placebo effect'. In this case however no deception is necessary; although your conscious mind is fully aware that whatever you choose as a trigger is in itself meaningless, your unconscious will happily upgrade your immune system and healing speed if you let it know that this is the expected result when you do 'x'.

'x' can be anything from a certain exercise to eating a particular food, but it works best if its something sensorimotor together with spoken words (for example “I'm going to do this exercise/eat one of these because they're full of vitamins and I'll get better quicker.”) You sat the words aloud as you perform the motions.

The method can even be used for prevention; when everyone around you has the 'flu and you keep saying “I don't get viruses, I haven't got time,” it will genuinely improve your immunity.

This sounds completely bizarre, and you will not understand the method unless you have already learned quite a lot about how the mind works. The important thing is to know that you are deliberately fooling a part of your mind, because if you don't know that, you can end up stuck with a superstition glitch.[26]


Imagination & Autonomy

The more you depend on your own imagination, the more proficient you will become at using it. If you rely on someone or something else to entertain you or tell you what to do or come up with new ideas, your imagination will shrivel rather than flourish for lack of exercise.

If on the other hand you develop your imagination sufficiently, you will never be bored again, regardless of what is or isn't going on your mind will always be occupied.

Remember whatever you put in to your imagination will shape its performance for good or ill. Inout control is as always your best tool for refining the image based format that underlies the quality of your whole intelligence.

 


EXERCISES -for network 3

 

Once you've hacked the relaxation response and worked on rear nets until you have a nice balance, you can start some imagination augmentation. If you rely on drugs or technology to achieve relaxation, bear in mind that you are indulging in state-dependent learning and may have difficulty recalling the skills you learn outside those same states.

WARNING If you have unconscious anxiety or unbalanced rear nets and you try to augment imagination without first being able to initiate the relaxation response, you WILL get problems. Don't complain to us; we told you to always do things in the right fragging order. Reality and facts and laws of nature won't go away, even if you ignore them.

 

Stretch-relax exercises for imagination

We need to stretch and explore to get input but we need to relax (and sleep) in order to understand it. This is why we learn faster by taking regular breaks. Stretching the imagination and then allowing it to relax is the aim of this type of hacking, and one of the finest tools for this is stories that we can listen to at the end of each day, after which we fall asleep.

Read (or even better, listen to) soft fiction. By 'soft' is meant at first totally imaginary; you want to start with faeries and elves and wizards and ali baba and the forty thieves and magic swords and captive princesses and dragons and all that jazz. We are talking books or audio here NOT movies or video, definitely not TV, and not comics or graphic novels. The point is to get your imagination to do the graphics. Just listen to the descriptions of things and form an image in your mind of what they look like.

Consider investing in audio books or getting together with a partner or friend to read aloud to each other.

In choosing ancient myths and stories, bear in mind that cultural collections are associated with certain environments. Choose those in which the stories take place in an environment you are familiar with. It's fashionable and cosmic to be into stuff like native american myths or ancient mayan epics or inuit folk tales, but if you don't actually live in and were not raised in that environment or that culture, they won't develop your imagination so well or so fast as if you do or you were. Association works best when all aspects of input fit synchronize easily and your familiar environments match up with the story landscapes.

 

Using drugs or tech

Some people use chemicals to assist imagination development; firstly in anxiety control and sometimes to get into a mental state where they feel able to play. Many adults have no idea how to play, having had it coerced out of them at an early age, but if we want to give the mind a second chance this is exactly what we have to do; relearn the art of play. Drugs can help some people relax and open their minds to new ideas without getting embarrassed, bored, distracted or impatient.

Everyone is different, and you may already know which kinds of chemicals suit you and which do not. If you don't know and want to explore, it's best to try things outside of the experimental context before using them for the first time in it. Magic mushrooms may help some to have wonderful imaginative visions, but all some others will see is themselves throwing up on the carpet.

 

Likewise some people like to use tech of various kinds to augment exercises and the same rule applies. No piece of tech works for everyone; light and sound machines make some people puke while others experience marvelous visuals. Don't use tech for the first time in an augmentation experiment; get to know it first.

 

Exercise to associate imagery with all the senses.

Imagine something simple that you can do in real life, such as going to a movie with a friend, eating at a certain nice place or doing something you like to do.

Visualize your images clearly, and start to include in the visualization all the five senses. If it is watching a movie together with another person, imagine the two of you entering the cinema and sitting down. Listen to the people around you, use your sense of smell and feel the coldness or warmth and the textures of things that you touch. If you imagine eating or drinking, imagine the taste and smell.

You will probably find out it is easier to imagine with some of your senses, and a little difficult to imagine with some others. Go on with the exercises and you will strengthen your ability to imagine equally well including all the senses.

Do the same exercise everyday, maybe when you go to bed, and you will find that it gradually becomes easier.

Sometimes you may find that your mind starts to verbalize about what you are imagining. Be careful not to replace the images with words. The aim is to use your imagination, not your descriptive skills!



Tactile Imagery Tours

Sit in an armchair with eyes closed and take an imaginary tour of your home touching surfaces and objects taking particular note of the different textures. Opening your eyes, make the same tour in reality as you imagined. Remember the imagined texture before you touch for real. How close was the reality to your imagined texture?

Next, imagine a fantasy situation for yourself to explore. This may be a castle, igloo, spacecraft, penthouse suite or whatever. In the fantasy use your 'minds eye' and set off to explore the textures of your imagined environment.

 

Exercises for imagination and spatial skills

You were born with a rapidly developing 3-dimensional imagination. Here are some exercises to continue developing it.

Imagination is not visualization. Most people talk about their three-dimensional imagination as `visualization', but that isn't exactly right. A visual image is a kind of picture, and it is really two-dimensional. The image you form in your mind is more conceptual than a picture-you locate things in more of a three-dimensional model than in a picture.

Three-dimensional mental images are connected with your visual sense, but they are also connected with your sense of place and motion.

 

Face imaging

Practice imaging faces until you can 'see' them in your imagination, large and detailed. Do this by studying faces of people you know in a picture then shutting your eyes and reconstructing the face with your imagination.

Then when you can do this, have a five minute session with your eyes shut bringing to mind a series of the faces. Each face should be 'held' for several seconds as a clear image and may even talk or make different expressions. Try and make one face 'fade out' into the next. The series may be chosen from different situations. e.g. friends, movie actors, neighbourhood, lovers, relations, business acquaintances, advertising models etc.

As an advanced experiment try imaging a series of faces you have never seen before. Hold each new face for several minutes and examine it in detail.

This exercise may be fundemental to our imaging ability because the first pattern we are primed to look for after birth is a human face.

Shape & size imaging

The size of an image is important. Imagine a little cube in your hand, a large cubical box, and a huge cubical room that you're inside. They all have very different associations despite similarity of basic form.

Imagine cutting off each corner of a square, as far as the midpoints of the edges. What shape is left over? How can you re-assemble the four corners to make another square?

How many edges does a cube have?

How many different colors are required to color the faces of a cube so that no two adjacent faces have the same color?



Picture Imaging

Go to an image website and find a picture of a landscape that you like. Study the picture for not less than five minutes until you are familiar with all its details. Now, turn away from the screen and imagine the picture with your eyes shut. Return to the picture to fill in details that escape you. Return to the picture again and again until the it lives as vividly in your imagination as it does on the screen.

When the picture is established allow it to come to life. Figures move, leaves rustle, water twinkles. Notice how the impression changes and the picture evolves. Blink. Can you now regain the original image?


Technique for unconscious image Generation

The generally accepted preparation is relaxation. This is not strictly speaking essential as many people will see images when excited or speedy, but physical relaxation usually helps silence any routine considerations of the conscious mind.

Use an abstract image or medium such as smoke, woodgrain, tree bark or clouds in the sky. How many images can you 'see' in the pattern?

 

Visual Image Manipulation

Choose an object from your room which you can visualise clearly.

Holding it in your minds eye... make it rotate, stop. Then walk around it whilst it is still. Look at it from above then from underneath. Move it away from you until it is in the distance... then gradually bring it closer until you are looking at one detail of it. Make the colour change once, twice and three times. Make it grow larger and larger. Make it grow is gigantic. Make it shrink... continue shrinking it until it dissappears. Then make it reappear in its original form.

Use simple objects at first then gradually progress to more complex ones.

 

Imagine a familiar reality

Choose a room you are familiar with for this exercise. After putting aside anything potentially dangerous, blindfold yourself, turn out the lights and navigate around the room or area. See if you can identify objects as you move around. It may sound a little silly, but doing usual things while blindfolded is an extremely powerful workout exercise for your memory, imagination and senses. Good examples are getting dressed, cleaning your teeth, bathing, brushing your hair.

During the first few exercises you’ll probably have a black image in your mind and you’ll feel very disoriented, but as you keep doing it you’ll find that your imagination will get to a level where you can “see” what you are doing without actually seeing it.


Exercises using spatial association with imagination

In this exercise instead of physically moving, you walk around only in your imagination.

Pick 6 locations or permanent objects in your room, garden or workspace: one at the front, one at the back and two on each side. Associate each one with a brain network, like this:

 

[front]

 6

5 4

1 2

  3

 

Now when you want to remember a list of things, start with a walk around the chosen space. As you go, associate each item on the list with one of your 6 locations or objects. Stop at each location and add humorous mental imagery and associated sounds, always in a comic way. When you need to consult your list, you simply walk around your chosen space in your imagination and you will "see" the items on the list.

 

Sensorimotor association

Using the spatial arrangement of numbers above, use you eyes as a director for where the information will relate to. Start by splitting the items to be remembered into 6 blocks or six things. Associate the first block with looking towards your bottom left, the second block bottom right, the third block straight down and so on. When you want to recall a particular block, look in its direction.

Why would moving your eyes influence your memory?

Researchers suspect [2008] it's because the eye movements cause the networks to interact more, and the association between networks is what brings back the memory more rapidly.

 

Exercises for improving imaginative association

"concept combination" exercise

Whether done alone or with others, you combine random concepts or things in new ways, to see how many ideas you can come up with. A box or hat is filled with bits of folded paper, on each is written an object. Each player picks out two and has to imagine how many different things could be done with the combination. A random word generator can be used if it can be set on names of objects.

Next time round, you pick out three objects, and so on. It gets more difficult to imagine possibilities for the combinations as the number of objects increases, but also funnier.

Start playing little silent "movies" in your mind, until you can watch them on command. It's a simple process, but for those who can't easily do it naturally, it can take a lot of practice. Fortunately, it is not an unpleasant activity.


Reveal unconscious association

Begin from a relaxed state. This is a good exercise when you are tired or drunk.

Using your NH diary, write down or type any ONE of the following core concepts: Matter/Energy/Space/Time.

Then stop. Look out the window or around the room. Read the word you have written, then using this as a keyword write the first thing (word or phrase) that comes into your head, when you think of the concept. Don't pause to think and consider..if you catch yourself doing so, stop. Look away. Clear your mind, then continue.

If you have prepared yourself sufficiently so that this process happens unselfconsciously the result may seem meaningless, unconnected or weird, but that's okay.

Now look at the second thing you have written, and repeat the process using that as the keyword this time. Continue until you have a list of about twenty things.

Now look back at your list and examine the terms as individual items.

How many of them associate in a clear straightforward way with the first thing you wrote down?

Are they all in the same category (for example, are they all material objects?) Could any of them be associated with any of the other core concepts you did not choose?

Next, instead of starting with a core concept pick up a book or open a document at random and choose a word by randomly pointing at a part of the page with eyes closed. Take that word or phrase as your new keyword and repeat the exercise including the questions at the end.

If you do this regularly you will start to notice habits of thought; ways in which you often make similar associations between certain types of things. This will help you see your own progress into more coherent association over time, based on real life relationships between things.

 

Imagination & Modeling exercises

Learn interactive reading/listening -if the story says the hero looked alarmed, pull an alarmed face. Tense your own muscles as s/he creeps down the dark tunnel to slay the evil monster or fight the dark tyrant. Laugh with glee as you (they) outsmart the baddies and save the day. At this stage, play only the goodies' characters (because you are learning the first 'batch' of archetypes). You don't have to imagine you're the same character all the time -imagine being some of the supporting characters too.

Imagine you are someone else from far away, a child, or another creature. What would they think of the way you live? Thinking from a child's perspective, seeing the world as a whale or a gorilla sees it, seeing things from another culture's perspective are sure ways to give the imagination plenty to play with. Try also to see things from the imagined perspectives of different characters in movies.

Sit, relax and close eyes. Imagine yourself doing some physical activity. It might be a job around the house like fixing the gutter, or it might be a sequence of Yoga or Tai Chi. Concentrate on what the movements feel like.

Start off with short, simple sequences and work up to long, complex tasks. Feel the effort required to do different actions. Be aware of any counter-balance necessary. Careful not to bump into things!

Physical tasks may be practiced in the imagination before actually doing anything. Dancers will often learn to image a sequence of steps before they do it. These kinds of exercises may be done in the imagination with real benefit to your physical condition, as we'll explain later.

 

'Camouflage & infiltrate'

The way we appear influences the imaginations of others to make choices and 'pigeonhole' us and then treat us accordingly. You can use this for your own protection and success, because others feel less anxious if they receive 'safe' images.

The clothes we wear always communicate particular attitudes even if its 'I'm not caring about my appearance' or 'You can't label me'. They also prompt others to associate us with imagined social groups. Most people believe that “You can tell a lot about a person by the way s/he dresses”. The clothing conventions of particular groups are more rigid than most people are prepared to realise.

Try adopting a particular style of dress for a week and note the differences in the way people respond to you. Then change to something different for a week. Continue this chameleon existence for a month. Even in this short time you will be able to make enough observations to considerably develop your skill at sussing out what choices, styles and colors get the least anxious responses from others.

Notice too your own response to your appearance in different styles. Does your self esteem increase when you are in certain outfits or have your hair a certain way? There's input control for you.

You can now 'dress for the occasion' wherever you go and get more polite interactions and a lot less hassle. You'll also have learned a lot about who is anxious and who isn't and your own attitude to how you look.

'Home' is the places where you can dress for comfort and pleasure and those around you will not change their behavior towards you.

 

'Reality check' exercise

Challenge all your assumptions. What are the real life requirements for any creature's survival? Imagine six different wild creatures. How does each meet these needs?

Imagine ten things you believe are impolite. Why are they impolite?

Imagine six things that are normally really good. In what circumstances might the same things be not good?

Imagine six things you believe are morally wrong. In what circumstances might they be permissable?

Your imagination should have no problem with these exercises if you have been practising those above.


'Upgrades' exercise

Start mentally redesigning everything you see. Imagine a better bicycle, a faster mail service, a lighter laptop or a more comfortable chair. Continue this for three weeks, and it will become a habit.


Describe your inner vision [needs assistant]

Sit comfortably with a friend and imagine a person, a place and an object, one at a time. Explain the images to your friend by talking about them, not by drawing them. It will probably help to close your eyes. Gestures and drawing shapes in the air are allowed.

 

Distancing

An exercise to practice the imaginative capacity to see the world from different points of view, both concrete and abstract. Select a well known place close to where you live; a market square, a garden, park, hill, big tree etc. Describe the view spontaneously as you imagine it from the points of view of:

1. a baby

2. an alien from another planet

3. a dude on a horse

4. a sniper

5. a person aged 3

6. an ant

7. a flying bird

 

Take two or three minutes to consider each viewpoint, and notice how our own interests change what we pay attention to.


Empathy exercise: Time Traveller

First session:

Imagine you are a prehistoric hunter-gatherer sitting on a fur rug in a lovely clean cave one morning. You have lots of firewood, fresh water, lots of tasty berries and half a side of venison left over from yesterday, and you were planning on having a quiet day finishing the wall painting that you started last week. Life is going very well and you feel happy and contented. Just bask in that space for a moment...

Suddenly there is a flash and a bang! You find yourself in a different place altogether-right where you are now in this place in the twenty-first century.

Now, think like the hunter-gatherer. This is “Cavedweller You” (This can be quite hard at first, but persevere and it can get real fun).

Obviously you are quite surprised to find yourself in this amazing cave, wearing peculiar thin garments, surrounded by objects you don't recognize but some of which you can guess the purposes of. Take a walk around the place and see how many objects you think you recognise the use of. ..Maybe this small spiky wooden thing with a pointy end is an arrow or a missile of some kind? This hollow solid thing could be a drinking vessel of some kind?

Look around...are there pictures on the walls like your cave paintings? Are there furs on the floor and the bed like yours? Can you see what might be food or drink anywhere?

Remember that 'cavedweller you' cannot read yet, so try to avoid reading the spines of books, CDs etc; just try to evaluate things from what they look like/ feel like/ smell like etc; explore them with all your senses.

Obviously some dude lives here, but they are out. From your explorations, try to work out what kind of person lives here and what sort of things they like to do. Be aware of what you would assume, as a person from your context.

Next allow yourself to pull open cupboards, boxes, books etc to look inside. Go around the whole space and explore, but do not go outside. When you get bored being this character, send 'cavedweller you' back to their own time by clapping your hands together and saying '”Bye for now”.

 

Second session:

You can bring cavedweller you back any time you want to, just by sitting quietly for a moment and imagining the first scenario in the cave. On your second visit, go outdoors. Try to head for the nearest place you see that looks familiar, for example a forest, a park, a mountain, a beach. How many things can you see that you recognize as potential food? Potential tools?

You can bring Cavedweller You back here anytime to explore anywhere. This exercise, if done well, can help your imaginative skills develop very fast. When you feel you have explored all its possibilities, choose another context (time & space) and bring someone else forward in time into the here & now. You can also do this with fictional characters when you get good at it.

 

Group travel

This is a great fun to play at parties -a group version of the exercise above. Everybody pretends to be their cavedweller version, and you are suddenly transported here through time as a group. Decide on a mission before you start; for example one good mission for the group is to construct a safe, edible meal from whatever you are able to find.

You are allowed to talk and draw but not read/write, you can deliberately dress for the game if you like, and we will leave the rest to your imagination, but one word of advice from our personal experience:

Don't all get drunk and go all around the town dressed as cavemen, climbing trees etc. Cops do not accept the excuse, “I'm sorry officer; I was expanding the frontiers of my mind.”

 

Other helpful activities

Painting, drawing, music or sculpture can't avoid putting your imagination to work. Technical hobbies can also provide creative exercise, eg amateur radio, electronics, model construction, computer programming.

 



Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 13:14