Archimedes’ Wife has a Brain Wave
Famous for his “EUREKA!” moment, Archimedes shouldn’t really take the credit. His wife, fed up with him hanging around all day, thinking, told him to take a break and have a bath. That was the moment of genius.
Beta Brain Waves.
During our normal waking hours our brains are generating beta brain waves. They are most strongly seen when our minds are fully engaged thinking. If for instance, you were having a telephone conversation with a plumber about fitting a new bath then you would be using beta brain waves. However, beta brain waves wouldn’t necessarily be that useful if you were trying to invent a new law of hydrostatic watsit.
Theta Brain Waves.
Plumber – “You want theta brain waves for that mate. Now I could get you some next Thursday but it’ll cost you.” Theta brain waves, slower and lower, are most commonly associated with daydreaming, zoning out during repetitive activity, dropping off to sleep or just waking up. They are also most strongly associated with insight, ideas, “ah-ha” moments and invention. The problem is that, if we hear ideas from our theta range at all then we are very likely to forget them immediately.
Alpha Brain Waves.
What you really need are alpha brain waves. These are the bridge between the inspiration of theta and the awareness and logic of beta. They begin to happen when you’re engaged in automatic activities and particularly when you close your eyes. You don’t have to read far in the writings of great creatives from science through to art to find illustrations along the lines of, “I was strolling in the grounds, musing and it struck me thus ...”.
Thomas Edison, wise to this phenomenon, used to sit with a steel ball between his knees and a tray at his feet and let himself drop off to sleep. As the ball hitting the tray woke him he would scribble down whatever idea was in his mind.
Try it yourself. When you next have a problem to solve or an idea to get – and you get stuck – don’t face it head on. Go and do something else, fun, simple, repetitive. You can also relax with your eyes closed and imagine vividly a natural scene. Go on a mediative journey through a natural setting to a room containing a message ... or you could even have a bath.