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Archive for March, 2012

Imagine if there were multiple “escape hatches” for gaining effective new ideas and adopting effective new attitudes… Well, of course there are, right!?

Imagine they are not just ideas, but have a way to practice. You can practice by uncovering assumptions of thought and learning new creative thinking tools that give you ideas. That’s creative thinking. Now imagine you make improvements that better whatever you’d like to apply it to by changing yourself physically to get beyond that has become habitually assumed. That’s Alexander Technique.

The concept of “Attitudes” can possess a mental sense and may also be used in a physical sense. A person’s postural carriage and body language reflects their character and changing internal moods, as well as their intent, unspoken desires and motives. Change the inside thoughts and it will affect the outside. Change the outside mannerisms and the inside will also be affected.

Imagine a sailboat trimmed to catch the wind from a different direction to accommodate prevailing conditions – so the boat can go somewhere. Think of the advantages you could catch, if you could learn to sail yourself to catch those hidden opportunities and ideas that would usually blow over your head and be lost!

So the disadvantage is that there is a learning curve in each of these disciplines. You don’t really know about these advantages until you put in time to study what these tools are and can recognize when is the time to put them into action. They take dedication, discipline and to remember to use their advantages when things matter. Because they both involve education, the participation of the learner is required to gain their benefits.

Edward de Bono has spent his life providing these escapes from conditioned, trapped thinking, as have those people who teach F.M. Alexander’s Technique. How come so few people recognize how valuable creative thinking is? They focus on the result and not the process. How come only very few recognize the value of being able to change or improve the ability to move beyond one’s habitual conditioned responses? Again, they are usually motivated by a desire for the result; they declare the process is so abstract as to be completely mystifying.

But you could hire a creative thinker, but you’d need to recognize the value of their ideas. You could hire an Alexander Technique teacher to describe the qualities of human movement that recommend education – but instead there are expensive Gait Laboratories that are used to justify surgery as a solution.

Another thing in common is what happens when making both of these simple enough to be accessed by anyone. Simplification of either these two open-ended topics risks trivializing their tremendous power they have for improving action.

It appears that both possess a practical means about how to get beyond self-imposed limitations of having assumed the nature of reality from variously different starting points.

Rather than continuing to rant, I’ll give two parallel examples.

Edward de Bono uses the word “perception” to mean purposeful adoption of an attitude or point of view. So he invented a means for people to unite together and reflect a joined attitude by design. For instance, his invention of Six Hat Thinking has a group of people all on the same side of a question, having adopted an agreed point of view, (usually within a larger sequence) of one of the Six Thinking Hats. He called this “parallel thinking.”

While wearing the green creative Thinking Hat, Edward de Bono’s word for one of his tools is called “PO,” used in lateral thinking. How to use the provocation tool of PO is recommended in the word “movement.” This idea of “movement” is an instruction about how to regard what just got proPOsed. You suppose the provocation is absolutely true – and see if you can make observations that would be in effect if it were true. In some ways, it is very much like improvisational theater – Whatever just got proPOsed, the answer is always “yes.” That’s “movement” in a de Bono style creative thinking sense.

Now I’m remembering the past, being in class with Marj Barstow, and she asks, “How do you describe A.T. in one word?” Her idea of that word is “movement.” Marj uses the word “perception” to mean the perception of kinesthesia, which is the ability to internally know where you are located in space and to judge how little effort is really needed to perform a physical action. Her idea of a provocation is a student’s proposed activity or desire to improve something. Observations about the quality, timing, sequence, relationship and direction of movement offer the discoveries that come from experimenting with how to make movements easier. “Intention is already movement,” she declares.

Both A.T and de Bono Thinking assign certain strategies to get beyond one’s own self-imposed limitation that have attitudes and perceptions in common – how to create value by moving away from limitation into unexplored possibility.

Studying Alexander Technique is a valuable answer to an often-ignored need for proactive movement, instead of preserving the status quo of habit. I suspect that de Bono has a similar feeling of frustration when confronted by the prevailing argument culture. What good is the tired use of our prevailing argument culture, when you can design a way through these challenges that will better the whole situation?

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Spontaneity & Creativity
Some people imagine there is a canceling effect between planning and spontaneity. Creative writing is an example. Once a writer gets into the state of being a methodical editor, the spontaneity of creative ideas can stop, like a faucet that’s been turned off. How can a writer “turn on” the faucet of creative writing again? It’s a mystery to many who experience “writer’s block.” From my experience, I say that the ability to shift from the creative state to editing mode and back again is a skill that responds to practice.

Observation & Creativity
Of course, it would pay off to be able to pay attention to what is actually happening. How else will you know if something creative has happened? Bear in mind that there are many ways to describe what you think that you’re doing, which may not be what is actually happening.

As a writer, I’ve learned that naming something can be dangerous. Under the heading of “planning” and “methodical” are really effective and astute self-observations, done slowly. This can be practiced by describing the mundane things that actually happen that most people miss – which could be another part of  “methodical.”  Then there is somehow recording what happened – like people do to populate their Facebook pages. Recording what you tried is useful so you don’t have to mistakenly practice unproductive mistakes.

Accidents & Creativity
Pretty much everybody has done something really creative and beyond their abilities in a flash of “accidentally on purpose.” How much time went by until they realized something creative just did happen? Can it be done again, purposefully? Were they paying attention as they did this creative thing so they could know what happened in order to use it productively?  Are there more effective questions that might help being able to repeat a creative accident?

Some Useful Virtual Questions

  • What helps to observe myself – while in action?
  • What’s the challenge for being creative?
  • How can I recognize that something creative just happened?
  • Does creativity have characteristics that will help me spot it when it does happen?
  • How am I going to recognize a partial creative answer when it happens?
  • Does stopping and noting it help a creative action to happen again?

Going Slowly & Creativity
Alexander Technique teachers know that ready-made, habitual solutions preclude creative answers from emerging. So – slowing an action down to a crawl effectively works to interrupt or to stop habitual solutions from jumping in and “helpfully” providing the application of those ready-made answers. It’s easy to mistake slowing down for being “uncreative.” But going slowly is only just that. It’s possible to be very creative and go slow, because it allows the new solution to be implemented.

In practice, you must prove to people that going slow is useful. Because in our culture we have this mistaken assumption that going fast is a sign of quick-witted intelligence and going slowly is a signal of stupidity.

Method & Creativity
There’s a paradox in Alexander Technique – “let’s follow a declared process that will result in an inspirational flash of discovery!”

Stating what you are going to do and then doing it helps unify all of yourself in being pointed toward whole-minded action. Stating what you are about to do forges and practices a coherent, consistent connection between your intent and the factual response to your intent.

Are there certain useful practices or questions you enjoy asking yourself again and again because they result in a flash of creative inspiration?

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