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Problem solving 101

Since I’ve felt that my place is with my family and friends in The Netherlands I’ve been planning my route towards that goal. And in that planning I’ve found myself both exhilarated and exhausted in trying to figure out what the best course of action is and when the different aspects of my move need to take place. These last couple of weeks I’ve come to realise once again how much energy goes into our mental busyness and our attempts to control our reality.

Mostly we are unaware that our mind is feeding us puzzles and stressing us out in it can pressure us into coming up with solutions to these puzzles. Thoughts like “How will I get to work on time when I’m running late and need to drop the kids off at school?”, “What are we going to eat for dinner?” and “Where do I find the time to do groceries after work?” are easily solved by our conscious mind but more difficult questions like “What am I going to do about X after our fight?”, “How am I going to pay the bills this month?” or “I’m so unhappy at work, what can I do about that?” can really wear us out because the answer is not that simple.

Most of the more difficult questions that run through our minds every day go unnoticed. They tend to cause stress and a restlessness that we try to manage by ticking off things on our to do list, or by mulling them over endlessly in search for a solution that will set us free. The thing is that as soon as we’ve solved one puzzle the mind produces another one, making us go round the hamster wheel forever and ever.

Meditation is a good way for us to step out of the hamster wheel of our mind as it gives us room to breathe and relax. A lot of people have difficulty meditating as did I when I first started doing it. What helped for me was to focus on my breathing by actually counting to 6 as I breathed in and out, listening to meditation music also helped me a lot. Both gave my conscious mind something to do as the rest of me took a break from the stress producing thoughts it kept feeding me.

Consciously choosing to be in the moment is another way of snapping out of thought patterns. Going outside to listen to the birds, mindfully making yourself a cup of tea or a sandwich, getting up to stretch your body or giving a hug to a loved one or a pet. These are all things that can press the pause button and give us some time to appreciate the things in our life that are good and wholesome.

Another great thing about letting go of the thoughts that keep asking our attention and problem solving abilities is the fact that the greatest solutions actually come to us when we are not thinking about them. Some of the greatest inventors and scientists of our time have showed us that the way towards solving a puzzle is to train ourselves to stop thinking obsessively about the subject. Einstein and Edison both solved problems and had massive breakthrough’s while they were in a relaxed state of mind like for instance doing dishes or waking up from a nap. This is called riding the theta waves and it is scientifically proven to be the state of mind where we are disengaged with the active mind allowing us to experience a free flow of ideas without the imprint of emotions and belief systems.

While we are in a theta state we are out of our conscious mind and engaging with our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind processes about 400 billion bits of information per second where our conscious mind only manages about 2000 bits a second giving us room to options and solutions we were previously unaware of. This is one of the reasons why Edison and Einstein used their subconscious mind to solve problems. So next time you find yourself chewing on a problem without finding a satisfying solution just relax and let your subconscious mind come up with the solution for you. Apart from reaching the best possible solution to your problem it will also free up more energy for you to enjoy your day.

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