One of the most meaningful experiences for anyone who spends part of their time solving problems, whether on a personal or professional level, is that of insight, also called “eureka moment”, To be the expression used by Archimedes when he discovered his famous principle.
This psychological phenomenon occurs when we suddenly and unexpectedly find the long-sought solution to a challenge. This usually happens at a time when this research is not in progress, or at least not consciously. Its appearance is usually accompanied by intense mental activation, even euphoria, as well as a pleasant and relaxing physical sensation. In addition, the solutions found are generally of high quality, which further reinforces the sensations already described.
However, this much desired phenomenon cannot be generated at will, which would otherwise be very useful in everyday life. Ideas happen or don’t, and you never know when or even if they will eventually appear. Yes, we can block voluntarily instead; you just have to actively seek it out and it never happens. So how can we use it to solve our challenges?
The cognitive blockade paradox
The paradox of how insight works, the fact of trying to get there leads directly to being cognitively blocked, it has a lot to do with the way our brains process information. Basically, and to use a simple analogy, it’s like a computer; we can use it linearly, that is, using one app at a time and then another, or we can open multiple apps simultaneously and have them all run simultaneously.
If we are talking about the brain, we can use it to think logically about a problem which in turn leads us to another related idea and so on, until we find the solution to the problem we are trying to solve, or that we can use it. lo in parallel, where all the problems we are trying to solve are dealt with at the same time, and combinations which, a priori, would not make sense are explored.
As with a computer, if we open a very complex application which consumes a lot of resources, those which remain available for other applications are reduced; the system slows down, and sometimes even crashes. But if we work with a lot of lightweight apps, they will all be able to work in parallel to achieve their own goals.
Logical and conscious thinking consumes many resources, Which implies that the rest of the processes are exhausted. On the other hand, if we release all these resources consumed by logic and consciousness, they become available for the rest of the mental processes and, oddly enough, they all start to work in parallel.
How to promote the emergence of insight?
When we are children, we all come from the factory with the ability to work innately in parallel mode (those empty moments with the gaze lost beyond the chalkboard) but in their attempt to develop our ability to focus and to think linearly, the educational process generally reinforces the latter to the detriment of the parallel path, Which is frowned upon (being incredulous), thus generating habits that we can no longer deactivate then.
In this way, most of the time, our brains work in a linear fashion, using a multitude of resources and limiting the options and possibilities that we should explore to find original solutions to the challenges we face.
That said, the key to improving knowledge and maximizing the chances of this happening lies in relearn how to reintegrate this “forgotten” parallel way of thinking.
To help us in this task, techniques such as contemplation (usually “blocked”) or meditation are very useful tools, because they help us to re-educate the path. we shift our conscious attention and how we open or close the amplitude of this focus more effectively.
However, like any biological process, continued practice of these techniques gradually increases their effectiveness, eventually becoming able to voluntarily modulate the time and depth to which we have entered this form of parallel processing.
Behind this simple explanation, however, hides a large number of neural mechanisms that are currently being studied very intensively in research centers around the world. Getting to know them is an exciting process that also brings many benefits both personally and professionally.
- Hill, G .; Kemp, SM (2016). Oh oh! What did we miss? Qualitative research on the daily insight experience. The Journal of Creative Behavior. 52 (3): 201 – 211.