You know that moment just before bed when the name of the song you were trying to remember the other day pops into your mind seemingly from nowhere, or the solution to the problem you just couldn’t solve at work suddenly becomes clear while you are gardening?
These are the effortless and magical moments of insight. Many of us are unaware of our process and may not even think we have any active participation in this phenomenon. Perhaps you consider God to be the source of insight, or psychic abilities. Perhaps you consider rationale and linear reasoning to be the path toward insight, or maybe you even perceive it is purely random and dependent on luck. Here is my proposed definition of insight — a way to look within; within an invisible construct, within oneself, within a system, within a matrix, or even within an expanded paradigm not yet defined. Perhaps it simply means interoception: the ability to gain inner awareness originating from one’s own thoughts.
What if insight had a measurable and predictable neurological aspect? Could we then find ways to access those moments of “a-ha?” What if access to insight was as attainable as access to our ability to count? Could we even orchestrate moments of insight and come to rely on them as a regular part of our outer-world navigation? Let’s play pretend for a moment and say yes.
Recent neuroscience studies done by Mark Jung-Beeman of Northwestern University’s Institute of Neuroscience used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRIs) and EEGs to track brain activity the moments prior to and concurrent with reported instances of insight. It was shown that the seconds preceding reported moments of insight correlate to a shift in brain wave patterns, taking an individual out of beta waves (our normal waking focused state) and shifting into alpha waves which are a lower frequency and correlate to meditative states.
Just as this happens, the brain primes itself for a burst of gamma waves at a substantially higher frequency and a section of the right brain, the ASTG (anterior superior temporal gyrus), activates in what neuroscientists call synchrony, which means a simultaneous firing of neurons in the right hemisphere of the brain. It is at these exact moments that individuals report effortlessly remembering the thing they’d forgotten, finding the answer to the problem, or having a “stroke of genius.”
Let’s backwards engineer for a moment. If we can measure the lead up to a moment of insight, and we can correlate each piece of the lead up to a cause-and-effect, then why couldn’t we activate those pieces of the lead up by will, with intention, or through orchestrated practice? What if we could, and what if it were so simple?
I’m presenting for your consideration one simple and major way we can activate the mechanisms that lead up to insight: Meditation.
Modern science has enabled us to measure brain activity during various meditative states, and the consensus is in! Meditation brings us from the beta state, which corresponds to 13 to 40 Hz, to an alpha state between eight and 13 Hz — the exact priming condition for the sudden burst of gamma waves and insight. So how is this practical for you?
Do you have a few minutes each day for simple breathing exercises or a peaceful meditative image? If so, you are priming yourself each day for a predisposition to insight. Do you have even more time to devote to meditation than that? Great, then you are exercising this neurological set-up more often. But what if you don’t? If you are banging your head against the wall looking for the solution, the lost memory, the way out of your current situation, or the miraculous message then simply stop doing exactly that.
Switch your activity to something that engages less of a detailed focus like listening to music, walking, breathing, exercising, gardening, staring off into the distance, washing the dishes, or just about anything else you can do that required less focused attention and enables your mind to wander without agenda. You may be surprised that giving yourself space from the situation actually brings clarity. Even if you don’t believe this, perhaps trust that science is now telling you so.
Interestingly, moments of insight appear from right-brain activity, as far as the studies show. While our society supports using left-brain analysis to come by solutions, science says it’s exactly that part of the brain that must disable in order to turn on insight. My belief is that insight is like a muscle, the more we set it up and exercise it, the stronger it becomes. How will you step away from your linear and fact-based thinking in order to flex your insight muscle today?
Lisa Wimberger holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Stonybrook, NY and a Foundations Certification in NeuroLeadership. She is a certified MBTI consultant and a private healing and psychic practitioner, teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders. Lisa studied Ascension training for four years with Ishaya monks. She completed two and a half years of psychic awareness training at ICI, applying the tools of the Berkeley Psychic Institute, and a year and a half in post-graduate studies. Feel free to tell her your story and visit www.tpconsultinggroup.com to learn more about how these techniques are targeted to First Responders. Lisa is the Founder of the Trance Personnel Consulting Group, www.tpconsultinggroup.com. Lisa has created and facilitated leadership trainings for executive teams in Fortune 500 companies, the Colorado State Department and worked individually with international management. She has created and facilitated Emotional Survival programs for Colorado Law Enforcement Agencies and peer counsel groups. Over the last two years, 600 police officers have attended her workshops. Lisa writes for CopsAlive and partners with the Law Enforcement Survival Institute. Additionally, Lisa’s services are sought on a national level by individuals in law enforcement looking to find a new way to navigate through their stress patterns. Lisa is a member of the National Center for Crisis Management and ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. Lisa’s Neurosculpting programs combine neuroscience principles with shamanic and energetic modalities. Her book, NEW BELIEFS, NEW BRAIN: Free Yourself from Stress and Fear is due out by Divine Arts Media in November 2012.