Classic: Applied Imagination by Alex F. Osborne

This type of post is what I call journey writing. Instead of writing an article at the end of a process, in this case reading this book, journey writing posts allow me to add comments as I go along. Sometimes my comments will encompass an entire chapter. Other times, I get to linger on my journey and write more deeply about a passage or two.

At the end of this journey, I write my summary which may include deleting my entries, rearranging them, or keeping them all. Please join me now on my journey through a great classic of visualization-imagination-dreaming literature.

Day One:
I was shocked to see (in the foreward), that in the first three years after the publication of Applied Imagination, more than 100,000 copies had been sold. Although the popularity of this book fell off in the 1960s, I assume that at least half a million copies of this book are out about in the United States. I found mine in a heavily stocked used bookstore (Chamblin Bookmine, Jacksonsville) and it can be found at online booksites….It has been revised a few times but does not have a recent treatment.

Sleep Thinking – Eric Maisel

sleepthinkingI don’t recommend that many books and the one’s that I do must be either a comprehensive treatment of a subject or one that has specific techniques fully outlined.  Eric Maisel’s book is both.

Maisel turns his psychologist/writer skills to the study of our unconscious and when it is doing it’s freest work, while we are sleeping. Among its many duties and capabilities is to do what Maisel calls, sleep thinking.

We are already familiar with sleep thinking.  “Give me some time to sleep on it,” is a common approach to decision making.  We know that some how, during our sleeping, a part of our brain will work away and make our options clearer by morning.

This behind the scenes work is different than studying our dreams. Sleep thinking is more to the point and sticks with what we are most concerned about. It isn’t overly poetic in what it shows us and sleep thinking results are more practical.

Eric Maisel is a precise man. His book is not filled fluff. He jumps in provides the step-by-step approach to sleep thinking and then offers specific directions for common areas of interest such as building creativity, removing inner obstacles, and finding solutions to large challenges.

The only special note I have about this book is this suggestion: start off easy and simple. Read the first chapters and then get down to work. Ask for insight or answers to something important to you and work that for a few days/a week. Repeat for another week or so.  Don’t get bogged down when starting a sleep thinking practice by taking on too much.  Get the principal down and do some preliminary work.  Then, if called, jump back into Maisel’s detailed work program.

This book is out-of-print but is still available ($1.00 to $4.00) so get it while you can. Here is the Amazon link.

The Kindle edition of this book is: The Power of Sleep Thinking – Link

The Naps of Thomas Edison

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

Edison worked his tail off every day searching for market-worthy inventions. One of the areas of his research included how to maximize his productivity and his thinking. One way to accomplish both was to nap: “I enjoy working about 18 hours a day. Besides the short catnaps I take each day, I average about four to five hours of sleep per night,” stated Edison.

During some of his nap sessions he did more than recharge his internal batteries, he used his imagination to work on creative problems. Working naps required sitting upright in a chair.  Sitting up made it harder for him to fully sleep and made it possible to stay lightly conscious during these sessions. To further assure that he would not lapse into sleep, he would hold a steel ball bearing in each hand. On the floor, placed directly below his closed hand would be a metal saucer. If he should fall completely asleep, his hands would relax and each ball bearing would fall to the floor, striking the metal saucer, making a noise loud enough to wake Edison.

What was he doing?
Edison was utilizing what was named hypnagogia. Hypnagogia is the state (actually a variety of states) that can be experienced as we hang onto consciousness while moving towards sleep. It involves bodily relaxation and the easing of the grip of cognitive/emotive focus. In hypnagogia we get the benefit of a sort of emotional and cognitive wandering. This wandering can be gently guided, as Edison did, or left open to go where it wants to go. Guided wandering has the benefit of keeping a topic of our interest in mind so we can observe it from new angles to learn new things. Edison meant business by setting up conditions so he could stay in this state for long periods.

Instead of steel balls
Edison’s approach works perfectly fine but here are two more ways which don’t require steel balls.

Approach 1 – Lie down on a bed, on your back and rest your upper arm (from shoulder to elbow) elbow flat on the bed. Bend your elbow and keep your lower arm (from your elbow to your finger tips) pointed straight up to the ceiling.  When you fall asleep, your arm will flop down on the bed and catch your attention. Wake up a bit and then cost back to hypnagogic wandering.

Approach 2 – Use a slightly modified wake-up alarm – Get a car doze-alerting alarm for a few dollars (see www.napzapper.com). Cover over the little speaker that screams an alarm when it detects the downward flop of the head of  dozing off. This will make the sound tolerable since you don’t need it screaming, just making enough noise to wake you up. Put the device over your ear and sit up in a chair like Edison. Keep your head level. Relax physically and mentally and let your mind wander.

What you will discover
In hypnagogia everything can swirl together—visions, thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and who knows what else. There will be so much going on that you can’t possibly remember it all so you will need some way to remember what is most important to you. Try making some notes during the process or shortly after you end the session. Use notes on paper or on a recorder.

All of this takes practice, but you will be shocked how quickly you can master entry into hypnagogia. Pleasant and fruitful wandering await you.