So far we have covered 4 of the Essentials for Success:
Desire – without which, nothing at all would happen and which is the driving force to success;
Faith, which is the sustaining force leading to success;
Autosuggestion, which is a way to program your mind to acquire the faith required;
and Specialized Knowledge, without which any endeavor will most certainly fail.
The 5th Essential of Success is Imagination. It is also one of the so-called ‘Higher Faculties’ that is peculiar to mankind, the others being Reason, Memory, Perception, Will and Intuition.
Imagination takes two forms. The first is the kind that is ‘constructive’ (or ‘synthetic’). In this type, your mind is working with other ideas that already exist and merging them together to produce a new idea. This kind of thinking is progressive – that is, one concept leads to another concept and another.
A typical example would be the progressive improvements to the automobile since its inception in the late 1800’s. It’s not ‘original’ but it is still imaginative and creative, and should never be overlooked. It is the kind of imagination that is most useful when fine tuning an idea or concept.
It’s also the kind of thinking when you join a ‘mastermind’ group or ‘think tank’. Ideas are shared between people, amplified and refined.
It’s also used when you do a ‘mind map’ or ‘brainstorm.’ Your mind picks up any old thing, not necessarily the right answer, but the process of activating your mind brings forth other ideas, often that become the seed of the ‘correct’ idea you are looking for.
The second type of imagination is ‘Creative’ in that it is a totally new idea. Often this can be spurred by inspiration – a flash of an idea ‘out of the blue.’ This is typically as a result of deep mental processing, often at the level of the unconscious.
There is a famous tale about the Greek mathematician Archimedes. He was working hard on the problem of how to determine the purity of gold. One day when he was at the public bath house the flash came to him when he stepped into the bath water and noticed the water level rise. He leapt up naked and ran home through the streets saying ‘Eureka! Eureka! (I have found it!).
There may well be a good explanation for this. Prior to the incident, his brain was highly active on the problem. His desire to solve the problem was probably very high and most likely his brain activity was very high. However arriving at a solution can be hindered by a hyperactive brain. Many people today who have such disorders such as ADHD all have problem solving even simple problems.
So when Archimedes stopped focusing on the problem and got into the bath (as you know, hot water causes the metabolism to slow) his brain started functioning at a more normal or even slower level, and hence the ‘brainwave.’
Well that’s my story anyway!
So to sum up, you’re most likely to get flashes of inspiration when your mind is settled. You’ve probably heard of people jumping up in the middle of the night with their own particular flashes. At that time, your brain is producing delta waves, which are associated with deep sleep and dreaming. The brain is also highly productive without that pesky consciousness to contend with! That you become briefly conscious with the new found idea is simply the brain reporting to you its findings!
Many experienced meditators encounter flashes of inspiration – not necessarily during the meditation itself, but as a result of their accumulative practice. Over time they have trained their brain to do so. Similarly, when you are lying down – either just before sleep or on awakening – your mind is most likely to be the most productive. You know the saying: ‘I’ll sleep on it’
In order to strengthen your imagination, you need to spend periods of time ‘contemplating’ or ‘meditating’ or ‘thinking’ about things. There doesn’t need to be a specific problem to be solved. It’s like strengthening your ‘thinking muscle.’
In the tale of Alice in Wonderland, Alice once says ‘Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ Perhaps this is what you need to do every day – to exercise your mind, in addition to your body!