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THE PREGNANT PAUSE
 

"The notes I handle no better than many pianists;
but the pauses between the notes - ah,
that is where the art resides!"

Arthur Schnabel

Intuition is a potent ingredient in all human experience. We are more dependent than we realize on those little flashes of insight that appear and guide us in new directions. Developing intuition through a ‘pregnant pause’ is an easy, painless effort. I've coined this a 'pregnant pause' because it literally gives birth to inspiration, innovation and/or resolution. If practiced daily, it will enliven your mode of thinking and vastly accelerate your creativity.

The Pregnant Pause
 

Intuition taps into that source of knowledge, information, wisdom, etc., that lies just below the surface of conscious awareness. This level of mind has been given various names. Jung called it the collective unconscious. Rupert Sheldrake, noted biologist, in his book A New Science of Life, has coined it as the morphogenic field. Ken Keyes called it the 100th Monkey syndrome in his book of the same title.

Formal science has yet to give it a specific name, except to refer to it as the subconscious or unconscious mind. Very little is known about it from a structured scientific standpoint because it can’t be modulated or measured very accurately with current technology. What research that has been done is still conjecture.

To keep this simple, we all have access to this incredibly rich level of mind at any moment we choose to use it. This is the same level of mind that, without our conscious thought, keeps our heart beating, our blood flowing, our lungs breathing and generates our entire bodily homeostasis. This is the same level of mind that holds all the information that is collectively known to mankind. It’s like a vast database of the conscious experience of all mankind.

 

Stop just for a moment and contemplate what that means. All the information and wisdom that has been collected since the dawn of man’s emergence on the planet is held in this mind space. And you, have access to that cumulative wisdom in an instant.

How do you access this wisdom on demand? I refer to this effort in my own life as the 'pregnant pause'. For those of an intellectual persuasion this is going to seem too simple to be workable. But no matter, it does work, and it’s far more useful than it appears at first blush. Here’s what you do:

  • Whenever you are stumped by something, albeit an emotional problem or encounter, or a puzzling situation that needs an immediate solution, just stop and go into a “mindless” state for a moment. This “mindless - non-thinking” state can last for as long as you’re comfortable with. I find it helpful to blank stare out the closest window and gaze at the sky. Looking at anything neutral, such as a white wall, or the ceiling, will do. I’ve been doing this for so long that I now realize I go into a mild trance for perhaps a minute or so. You will come back to conscious “thinking” within a few minutes, and you will then have a fresh thought or approach to whatever you were working on. Trust me, it really works.

The problem with “thinking” is that it gets in the way of hearing or receiving intuition. Certainly thinking is necessary and not something we want to stop doing all the time, but thinking is associative and tends to want to “figure out” what the solution is rather than simply let the answer appear. Developing clarity of thought is a useful and necessary experience, but learning to stop thinking for a short period of time can be just as useful, sometimes even necessary.

  • Example one: When a computer is giving an error message or a program has frozen, the reason that control-alt-delete is so effective is that it interrupts and breaks all the electric circuits that have gone haywire. The system is rebooted with its original configuration and one can start again. A ‘pregnant pause’ stops “circular or chaotic thinking” and allows the mind to rest and become receptive to intuitive input.

  • Example two: I had a technical problem with the most recent version B of Windows 95. I am not a technician so I called one in. He began moving around within the system edit files and the registry looking for the problem. While he was doing that I decided to have a 'pregnant pause' and I stared out the window at the sky. My mind went blank. When I came to he was still struggling with the registry and muttering about what a hassle Windows 95 can be. I had just received a thought on how to fix it and I shared it with him. The thought came “out of the blue”. I really didn’t understand why it would work, but I trusted the insight. He stated that this was a bit ridiculous because there was no logical reason why doing what I suggested he do would correct the problem, but he did it anyway. It worked, the computer rebooted properly and the problem has never returned.

Intuition is particularly valuable when we don’t have enough information to solve a problem, or we haven’t had the relevant experience to understand the problem. The subconscious mind works symbolically. Even if you don’t have the correct information, intuition will give you an analogous or metaphoric representation that you can understand.

Modern creativity techniques speak of incubation as one method in the creative process. The 'pregnant pause' is the same concept except that it can be used in the moment under any circumstances. I find that in my profession, in order to be effective, I have to be constantly creative, so I need something that I can use daily and at will.

I am a researcher by trade. For years I did paralegal research and now I’ve expanded into other areas. Research is an exciting job, because you are always confronted with a mystery that must be solved. What I have found to be the most potent tool in effective research has been using my instincts and intuition. Regardless of where the logical trail leads in the search for relevant data, I allow myself to take very divergent and even nonsensical paths. Especially, when a ‘pregnant pause' has produced an insight in a new direction. This has allowed me to come up with answers and solutions that have repeatedly astounded those I do research for.

Zen teaches aspiring masters to go to the “void”. The void is the experience of mind that has no things or thoughts in it, but is pregnant with potential. Meditation is an excellent method for accessing the void in a deliberate manner. In fact, I would recommend daily meditation for anyone wanting to increase their creativity. Meditation is therapeutic to the nervous system, refreshing for the emotions and insightful for the mind. I meditate daily and believe this has measurably enhanced my creative abilities.

As anyone can tell by the nature of this web site, I love to do puzzles. When a particular puzzle doesn’t lend itself to formal logical thought for solution, I often use the 'pregnant pause' to seek the answer. Particularly in lateral thinking puzzles, once you have sorted out the relevant from irrelevant information, if you stop and pause for a moment, the answer will suddenly appear. One of the reasons for doing lateral thinking puzzles is to exercise this ability to access intuition at will.

The 'pregnant pause' technique is a way of utilizing the “void” directly without having to go into formal meditation. You can practice it anywhere at any time. Next time you have a baffling problem or are struggling with understanding something, and you’ve exhausted all other resources; simply pause, fix your eyes on something neutral and stop thinking. You may even find with practice that you will go into a mild trance. Just allow it and wait for the mind to reactivate on its own. You will be astounded at how often the very answer you were struggling for is magically revealed to you.

The unconscious, intuitive, insightful level of mind is always there and always ready to reveal the proper solution to any problem. Using this simple technique will be cumulative, in that it becomes easier and easier to stop the thought process, when necessary, and just allow a clear resolution to appear.

© J.L. Read, 1996. All Rights Reserved.
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This site is dedicated in loving memory
to its creator, Janet L. Read
1949 — 2000

 

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