Research Paper By Nancy Hiller
(Transitions Coach, UNITED STATES)
I loved math all through school. I loved the ‘black and white’ of it. One and ONLY one right answer. You either got it right or not at all and I truly appreciated the lack of gray area – no endless debates, muddy waters, mere opinions or partial truths. Just right or wrong. Period.
In the eighth grade I was given a take home test (a little math project to keep the brain active over the Christmas break) and it was through this test that I first discovered ‘the unconscious thinker’ or the ‘intuitive mind’. I remember breezing through the first 9 of 10 problems – I still can’t remember the title of a book or an entire line from any of my favourite movies, but, I could generally do my math homework in front of the TV. Not this time.
Problem number 10 was making my brain hurt. I furrowed my brow and rubbed my forehead like Rodin’s famous statue – “The Thinker”, but, nothing seemed to come of it. I remember the jist of the question had to do with bisecting a certain line in a portion of a parallelogram in two, perfectly, and in equal parts. I read and re-read my text book and poured through my notes several times and could not find where to look for help on this kind of problem. I fell asleep that night quite consciously asking myself, how do I cut that in half? This kind of event is not unique to me, of course, but, quite thrilling to all of us when we experience that ‘stroke of insight’ – that ‘aha moment’ as Oprah likes to call it; I woke up at exactly 3:00 in the morning, sat up in bed and said aloud, drop a perpendicular!
I was so excited that I jumped up out of bed, went out to the dining room where my paperwork was sprawled all over the table, and in the dark, found a pencil and wrote down those 3 words. I knew that I knew that it would work and it was right. I had no idea how I knew, but, I FELT it as truth in the deepest part of myself and it surprised me to search myself and find not one iota of doubt about it. I immediately went back to sleep and cheerfully awoke in the morning to complete the problem in a matter of minutes.
The strangest thing, when I got to school later that week, was not so much that I had discovered a wonderful new and convenient way to tackle math problems (and later, LIFE problems), but, my teacher’s response. She said that she had never before seen the problem resolved in that manner, albeit much simpler and more concise than her method and the one she’d thought the text book gave tools for (which still escaped me). She asked me how I came to the answer. When I told her that I simply asked myself the question before I went to sleep, and it just ‘POPPED’ into my head in the middle of the night and woke me up! she stated, “impossible” and then asked me who had helped me.
I was a good student, but, not her best – I was definitely not smarter than many others in her class, so, how did I come up with this unique answer – a new and easier way to solve the problem than even my teacher had known?
Could there be an intelligence of sorts, actively at work, or perhaps, even passively available to us while we are NOT thinking? While we are actually sleeping and our wilful cognitive brain is UNconscious? Could reasoning and thinking actually PROHIBIT good problem solving and good decision-making? At least some of the time?
These were now the questions that began to enter my thoughts at night before sleeping some years later when I began my career as a Life Coach. Are we better off making decisions without the interference of linear and logical thinking? How can we possibly make ‘informed’ decisions when there are more variables in existence that we KNOW of than we could resolve and an infinite number times that number that we cannot even imagine to exist much less actually KNOW the likely probabilities of? Wouldn’t we be just as well off flipping a coin to make our decisions?
When I thought of what a truly and completely ‘informed’ decision would have to look like, I realized that I would, like a former Professor of mine once commented, need to have the ‘Mind of God’ or at least the complete knowledge of the infinite Universe at my fingertips. It is quite humbling and reminds me of my 3 year old nephew deciding one morning that he was ordaining himself “king of the family” because he now knew his ABCs and that was EVERYthing that there was to possibly know!
As I began coaching I saw this decision-making process was likely the number one source of angst in every one of my clients – young, old, male, female, none were exempt of the stress, guilt, strain of wondering IF they had made the right decisions in the past; were choosing the right ones now; if their present choices would lead to the ‘right’ outcomes tomorrow. It really seemed to be bane of the human condition. It seemed as if we were using the mind to make decisions and then the mind was beating us up over every one of those decisions and second-guessing us/itself for each one. From this perspective of the mind not trusting itself, we seem brave souls indeed just to decide to get out of bed and start making more choices again each day! We just couldn’t win.
It is clear that just our day to day living requires some level of TRUST lest we become frozen in indecision. So, if we will quite literally die without trust (in the extreme, should we not at least trust ourselves to decide to get up and eat, we would perish), expanding this level of trust seemed to be the answer to better quality of living and less stress. It stood to ‘reason’ (pun intended) that since it appeared nobody was making the decisions for us, we needed to develop a trust in ourselves and our decision-making process, but, how could we do this? How could we possibly know we were making the best decision at any given moment?
As I pondered these questions for my clients and myself, as well, I began intentionally asking myself these questions at night prior to sleeping, as I recalled how it had worked so well in the past. Through the years of my adulthood I had developed a habit of this. For instance, if I misplaced a book or any item I would consciously ask the question and then ‘go unconscious’ about it; I’d purposefully think about anything else but that book. I ‘trusted’ this unconscious source that I perceived inside myself to deliver, when the time was right, the information I was looking for. It always worked. I told friends and family members about this ‘trick’ and it seemed to work for them, as well. One friend commented that she trained herself to send her ‘little man’ (like a librarian looking over her file cabinets) on the hunt for some information like the placement of her lost reading glasses or even the perfect destiny of her next vacation.
One morning I woke up, as if in a lucid dream, with one of the biggest ‘aha moments’ of my life. My hands were on my heart as I was ‘coming to’ and I seemed to have a ‘knowing’ that I had either been accidentally triggering my heart’s brain, or my ‘heart-brain’ or perhaps, stopping the ‘interference’ of it, by either going to sleep trusting the answer would come or stopping the worrying brain. Either way, I knew that there was a connection between my heart – or the energy in that heart area of my body – and the clarity and FEELING of trust and ‘knowing’ an answer to be true. It was clear that now that I saw what was happening I could trigger or amplify this on purpose.