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THINK LESS, THINK BETTER…Moshe Bar, neuroscientist, Harvard

 

We all fail to experience life in the fullest. Typically, our minds are too occupied with thoughts to allow complete immersion even in what is right in front of us. We eat meals without tasting them, look at something beautiful without seeing it. In a study: the capacity for original and creative thinking is markedly stymied by stray thoughts, obsessive ruminations and other forms of “mental load.” Our findings suggest that innovative thinking, not routine thought, is our default cognitive mode when our minds are clear.

We found that a high mental load consistently diminished the originality and creativity of a response: Participants with seven digits to recall resorted to the most statistically common responses (e.g. white/black), whereas participants with two digits gave less typical, more varied pairings (e.g. white/cloud). These experiments suggest that the mind’s natural tendency is to explore and to favor novelty, but when occupied it looks for the most familiar and inevitably least interesting solution. In general, there is a tension in our brains between exploration and exploitation. When we are EXPLORATORY, WE ATTEND TO THINGS WITH A WIDE SCOPE, CURIOUS AND DESIRING TO LEARN. Other times, we rely on, or “EXPLOIT,” WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW, LEANING ON OUR EXPECTATIONS, TRUSTING THE COMFORT OF A PREDICTABLE ENVIRONMENT. We tend to be more exploratory when traveling to a new country, whereas we are more inclined toward exploitation when returning home after a hard day at work. There needs to be a healthy balance between those extremes.

Our study suggests that your internal exploration is too often diminished by an overly occupied mind, much as is the case with your experience of your external environment. In everyday life, you may find yourself “loading” your mind in various ways: the name of someone you just met, practicing for an upcoming meeting. Also the ever-present wanderings of a normal mind. And also more chronic, sources of mental load, such as the ruminative thought patterns of stress, anxiety and depression. All these can lead to dull thought.

It is clear that ancient meditative practice helps free the mind to have richer experiences of the present. Honing an ability to unburden the load on your mind, through meditation or other practice, can bring with it a wonderfully magnified experience of the world and, of your mind.

“DON’T THINK JUST SMELL” is the basic philosophy of our training. The mind has to be clear for us to perceive the odor properly. Before smelling: meditate, or look at a tree. Creativity will come with “DON’T THINK JUST SMELL.”

Categories: Article Summary Philosophical Perspective

ron winnegrad

Ron Winnegrad has been a Perfumer and teacher for 46 years. As a perfumer, Ron has been able to express the world he sees through a rainbow of olfactive and emotive visions. As a teacher, Ron has helped others to see fragrance through his own multi sensorial lens.

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