Making The Abstract Concrete
Sometimes the most generative tools are the simplest; a pencil, a notebook, and observing gaze.
In Annie Murphy Paul's book The Extended Mind there is a whole chapter devoted to thinking with the space of ideas, and includes ideas not just on the physical space of ideas (extra large displays are great), but also on giving abstract ideas physical presence.
In order to play with this idea in a new way, I introduced a group yesterday to a process called metacognitive drawing.
The goal of this type of drawing is to move the pen without thinking of the outcome, and to see what arises. You let the pen decide where it goes. The results might be an image of something we can all see and know, and sometimes it's swirls and lines and nothing "pretty," yet there is still a sense of something there.
This process is one that I learned from Cindy Jacobs, and proves to be an amazing way to access aspects of our thinking that we didn't know were there.
Here's what you do:
1) Grab a piece of paper or two, and a few colored pens
2) Set yourself a timer for a minute.
3) Ask yourself a question and allow your pen to move as it wants. I use my non-dominant hand.
4) When the timer goes off, put words to what you see or felt during the experience - use a different color pen if you like.
5) Try another prompt - the opposing questions can give great perspective.
Since we were exploring thinking, the prompts I used yesterday were:
As I was sharing my drawings and realizations with the group, I had my own big Ah-Ha.
When my thinking is blocked, I am SEEKING some beautiful thing out there. I am focused on a destination.
When my thinking is in flow, the beauty is within me the whole time. There is no seeking or wanting - no lack because it's already here.
Do you have a process you use to access abstract and perhaps unconscious thoughts? Care to share?
Originally posted on LinkedIn with comments.
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I am Theresa Destrebecq (I dare you to try to pronounce it...)