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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Power Nap And Thomas Edison's Access To Ritam Or Theta Brainwaves

There is a state of conciousness that they say exists between being awake and being asleep which allows the human mind to tap into knowledge and spaces previously unseen and which, so they say, is a very rich soil from which creative ideas sprout.

Those that teach Vedic meditation often refer to this state as 'ritam' whilst others more scientific refer to it as 'theta' brainwave patterns, of which I am yet to do more reading.

This state, as it was once explained to me by a meditation instructor, is where the brain is neither in a 'no thought, no consciousness' state but nor is is in your 'awake and alert' surface dwelling functioning of the brain. It exists in a mid range between the two states, hovering as it were, where the brain can access things from a more deep level but can still cognize these thoughts. We often pass through this state as we head off to sleep, which is sometimes why you make some ridiculous smirk as you are just about lights out and you think 'my God, I ought to write that down, that would be a hilarious anecdote at my next dinner party'. But then, sadly, most of us go to sleep and can't recall it in the morning. If my recollection is correct, that's precisely how Jerry Seinfeld records his gags, with a pen and paper next to this bedside.

Thomas Edison, on the other hand, learnt to harness most of this power on a regular basis. He took to calling it power napping, but in actual fact he was training his brain to enter a state of 'ritam' or 'theta' by using certain methods to keep himself hovering in a state between conciousness and unconsciousness . Two anecdotes relayed to me of how he did this are quite easily accessible ways to try it at home. The first, it is said, was that he sat at his desk and raised a tea cup in his hand above the desk with a saucer beneath it. Then he closed his eyes and began to fall into a meditative state. At the point at which the cup touched the saucer he knew he was losing conciousness and the sound would cause him to awaken, write down any key insightful thoughts and then return to the process again. The second anecdote was that he kept a rocking chair and a rock in his hand and a tin bucket which sat beneath the overhanging rock. When the rock fell, same thing. Whilst this sound knocking you out of the state is very handy, meditation experts generally instruct their pupils to take a few minutes to exit this state to allow the benefits of the meditation to distill.

There is not a lot of great deal of scientific research on power napping that I have been able to find on google but it is a fascinating area for me. For it is only by being creative and renewing your energy and focus that we can find new pathways forward. After many years of making thousands of bow ties, I feel it is high time to search for something new to apply myself to. But what? Perhaps it might be time to explore the benefits of power napping, as the most lucrative margin of them all is found in the product of good ideas.

Illustration of Thomas Edison by Tim O'Brien : source: The University Of The Arts

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